Ep 14: Communicate Better, Part 2

Difficult discussions can be the death of a good relationship. But with a little mind-management and emotional ownership, you can start to bring life back into your relationship even during those hard conversations.

Good communication can be an opportunity to understand your partner even more. It can be a time to pause and get curious!  

It’s a beautiful and magical gift to feel that initial discomfort of disagreeing and lean into it, trust it, and use it to build more connection!

Listen to Episode 14 to hear 5 steps to communicate better even when the discussion gets tricky!

What You’ll Learn From This Episode

  • How to have a difficult discussion in 5 steps. 
  • The importance of allowing your feelings.
  • How your nervous system takes over and what to do about it. 
  • How to get curious and listen.  

If you want help implementing the tools I teach, I would be honored to be your life coach. Working with a coach helps you to create change quicker, easier, and with more fun along the way! Are you ready to create a more Joyful Love in your own Life and Marriage? Then click here to find out more.

Mentioned On The Show:

Podcast Transcript:

Hey, I’m rachael Cunningham and yuo’re listening to joyful love, episode 14.

Hello, hello! I hope you’re all having a wonderful week!

I am! And part of the reason I’m having a good week is because I’m giving myself FULL permission to take naps – every single day if I want to!

I’ve been feeling a slump in the afternoon and instead of pushing myself… I’m simply setting my timer for 30 minutes and lying down to nap.

And it’s becoming a regular thing!  

And it’s making all the difference in my enjoyment of my people and my ability to do things I’ve committed to in the after noons.

So .. I don’t know who needs to hear this right now – but TRUST YOUR life enough to give yourself rest when you need it.

Trust that there is plenty of time for rest.

Trust that all the things WILL get done if you give yourself a break. They’ll probably get done even quicker!

With that said, let’s continue our conversation about communicating better.

Last week we covered part 1 of communicating better… where we learned about our different styles of communicating…. If you missed that – go back and listen to it.

I’d also like you to listen to Episode 9 if you haven’t already .. that episode is all about letting go fo the rule books we have for eachother so that we can build a deeper connection.

Those 2 episodes are critical in helping you to understand how to have better conversations in all of life! Not just with your partner … but with allllll the people!

Ok … for today we’re gonna continue this communication topic. So Let’s find out HOW to have a Difficult Conversation…. Shall we?

If you’re in any long-term relationship – at some point, you’re gonna have to have discussions that feel difficult. We’ve all been there… whether it’s a planned discussion or a conversation that just starts to go slightly off and tension starts to build and stress rises in your nervous system.

So first, I want you to understand that this is simply the bodies natural response when something feels uneasy. Your breathing starts going faster, your heart races a little, and you feel tension in different parts of your body.

WHEN you feel this initial reaction to a conversation where miscommunication or confusion of understanding each other  – it’s important to pause and NOTICE what you’re feeling.

It can be quick.

A deep breath in while you say, I’m feeling tense.

Or I’m feeling misunderstood. And I’m okay. I can handle this emotion without avoiding it or fighting it.

Because when you try to avoid or resist those first emotions of confusion or tension, you end up trying to BUFFER the feeling with running from the conversation (which ultimately makes the other person feel ignored and unheard). You might also tend to people-please to avoid the discomfort of a hard conversation.

OR you resist the emotions by lashing out with criticism and blame.

TO have a difficult conversation … you really need to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable.

When you are living in the present moment, and trusting yourself to feel all the feelings …. NOW you can proceed to communicate with maturity and love.

Feeling your emotions fully is so important. But it takes practice. Our primitive brains are so used to avoiding these emotions at all cost… because it thinks it’s protecting us.  So we FIGHT or FLEE.

But fighting and fleeing screws up relationships! It messes up communication!  

So first things first… Breathe. Feel the emotion. Name the emotion. And lean into it instead of avoiding it.

When you’re comfortable feeling uncomfortable … now you’re ready to actually have that difficult conversation.


The SECOND step to having a difficult conversation is to DROP THE NEED TO BE RIGHT.

Most of us have no idea how to communicate without blame, frustration, judgment, and a NEED to be right.

Again, our primal need is to be right.

BUT look at this a little closer.

What does being right get you?

The need to be right is an indulgent emotion. And it gets you nothing!

Now there’s nothing wrong with that initial primal need.

But when we hold onto this desire to be right, we risk losing connection with the people we love.

With our partners, We risk losing emotional and physical intimacy because we’re on defense.  ANd when you’re defensive – you purposefully put up walls to block your connection and intimacy.


And without defense, there is no need for offense.

And if you don’t have defense and you don’t have offense…. There is no war to be fought.

So next time you have a conversation that could be difficult…

Start the conversation WILLING to be wrong.

Willing to learn.

Willing to hear their side.

Even check in right now with yourself and notice how your’e feeling. How do you feel when I suggest to you to be willing to be wrong?

If you feel uneasy about being willing to be wrong, this could be

Costing you connection in your relationships.

And you might be saying, but I AM right. I did tell the truth. I didn’t do this thing the other person said I did. I KNOW I’m right!

And I want you to know that it does. Not matter.

We are talking about healthy ways of communicating here. And demanding that they know you are right, does. Not. help your conversation.

So instead of starting a conversation with, “I’m right because of these reasons.”

I want you to start conversations with, “Tell me why You’re right!.

So instead of coming AT your partner with “Here’s Why I am right” – you’re gonna say, “Tell me why YOU are right.”

And you listen. You don’t think of all the ways they are wrong while they are speaking and what you’re gonna say next.

 Instead, You are TRULY listening to why they think they’re right.

Now, it may not be a conflict of right and wrong… it could be anything –

You disagree how money is spent.

You’re not on the same page of who takes on the chores and helps with the kids.

Or Maybe one of you is just in a bad mood and you can’t remember why you’re arguing or upset with each other…. But you are.

The same concept applies…

You might just say “Tell me what you’re thinking.”  Or How are you feeling about this?

Or Tell me what you want to do.

Or what do you want me to know about this?

It doesn’t matter what exactly you say, as long as you know that your initial purpose to have a healthy/ but difficult conversation is to hear their perspective. … or why they are thinking what they are.

And you truly listen.

You hear their points.

You put yourself in their shoes.

And while you’re doing this,

You continue to purposefully release your defensiveness.

Release your need to be right.

Make a true effort to understand their every thought, feeling and action.


I know what you’re thinking…. You’re probably thinking that You want the same luxury.  You want to be heard. You want to demand a listening ear too.

And for the purpose of communicating better in these difficult moments … it is not necessary.

So let go of that need and be willing to try this new way.

You are the one I’m talking to…. You’re the one that is going to learn to manage difficult conversations. See the beauty in that for a moment! Of course I want all the people in my life – from my husband, to my kids, to my friends and extended family to learn how to listen and drop the need to be right. It would be so much easier if everyone in my life simply got CURIOUS about each other and listened with love during conversations!

But if I’m given the choice of trying to force people to listen by demanding it verses simply making my own choices to grow and manage my emotions – I know that I’m gonna choose my own personal growth over trying to force someone else to change.

This is part of dropping your own ego. Letting go of the need and desire even to be right. When you get good at this, your spirit and emotions become more peaceful – not just in your conversations, but in your life.

And you’ll be an example of what’s possible to the people around you.

Letting go of the need to be right also brings more peace to your immediate conversation … because You won’t have push back …because all you’re gonna say is,

“tell me why you’re right.”  “Tell me what you’re thinking”. Tell me why you want this”

“I want to hear you out”

So let me give you an example. Let’s say you have asked your partner to be home by 6:00 to help with dinner and spend time with you and the kids.

They come in late for the 5th time in a row and you and the kids are already in the middle of eating before the food gets cold.

Instead of lashing out or giving them the cold shoulder… You are gonna ask your partner, so….

Tell me everything. What’s going on that makes it hard to get home by 6:00? I want to hear what happened.

And he might say, well, I forgot something I had to do at work, or this project took too long, or traffic was bad, or any number of issues, right?

So now you have their story and you’ve allowed yourself to be in their shoes and see it from their perspective.

After you’ve heard their story out, you move onto step 3… which is to simplify it down to JUST the FACTS.

Only the facts

Facts are neutral  – everyone agrees on them!

So Find the facts that stand alone and that you have common ground on.

Facts are so neutral that They don’t make anyone riled up.

Facts are your common ground here!

So the facts of our example here are: I asked you to be home by 6:00 and you don’t get home until 6:30.

Now, once you are #1 WILLING to feel uncomfortable, and #2, you’ve listened fully to their story, AND #3, you’ve separated the facts..

Now, you’re ready for step 4.

Step 4 is To understand that they have a story.
And YOU have a story.

So no one is right or wrong… you just have different sentences in your brain about the facts.

The fact might be, “I asked you to be home by 6:00 and this week, you haven’t been home until 6:30.” You can both agree on those facts.

Now you get one sentence to explain what you’re making the facts mean.

Your story might look like…. “they don’t care about having dinner with me and the kids.”

Your partners story might be that you’re not flexible enough with time for his unpredictable job and traffic.

Now let’s recap…

Step 1 is to be willing to be uncomfortable.

Step 2 is you are going to drop the need to be right.  You’re going to LISTEN to them tell you their side of the story.

Step 3 is You list only the facts – only those things you agree on.

Step 4 is You each get one sentence to tell what you are making the facts mean.

So in this case, it’s

I’m making that mean, “you don’t respect my time.”

You’re making that mean that I’m not flexible.

And now for step 5….

The part that can ONLY happen peacefully if you’ve taken the time to do steps 1 through 4…

Step 5 is the point where you only talk with solutions in mind.

So you don’t bring up the past.

Don’t bring up why he’s wrong and how he should respect you more….

Only discuss solutions.

SO, What can we do to solve this?

So you may say, I can be flexible by 15 minutes without the kids melting down for dinner.

What can you do?

And he may say, I’ll set a timer to remind me to get out of there 5 minutes early to beat traffic.

OPEN your mind to other solutions.

I had a client have this situation happen and when she discussed this with her partner, they came up with a solution to  plan a day or two per week where he stayed an extra hour to finish up projects, but they determined the day ahead of time so that she knew which days to expect that.

Then they scheduled a time on the weekends where he took over dinner with the kids one night so that she could spend extra time on projects.

The never would have gotten to this solution if they didn’t take the time to FEEL, Listen, Understand their unique stories, AND talk with a solution in mind.

THERE are so many possibilities to solving disagreements and difficult conversations … But you will only find solutions if you stop judging, stop making the conversation about YOU being right, and start listening, understanding their perspective and then… only talking in solutions!

These 5 steps will help you with any person you’re struggling with.

Whether it’s your partner, a kid, or a co-worker.

This type of communication can ONLY connect you.

When you take the time to FEEL, truly listen to their perspective, list the facts and understand what you are both making it mean…. Your willingness to come up with workable solutions is going to be soooo much greater!

Your hearts are going to remain connected.

And disagreements aren’t going to be such a big deal anymore – because you begin to trust yourselves to work through ANYTHING.

And since you aren’t trying to change each other.

Suddenly … it’s okay to disagree… Disagreements aren’t the end of your joy and peace anymore!

I want you to know that as you start to implement these things… your brain is going to resist.

It’s gonna fight back and say, this isn’t working.

If that is the case… I want you to know you are not alone.

If you resonate with this, but only enough to get frustrated – schedule an appt with me to see how weekly coaching might help you.

Your first consultation is free with no commitment. I’m here to help – so use me if you need me!

Together we can take your relationship from mediocre to healthy and happy.

And one more thing…. last week, I told you all to stay tuned for something big and new that my husband Cris and I are working on!

We’ve decide to come together to help more people Enjoy and REVEL in this JOURNEY of LIFE!

So CRIS is a business coach and film-maker – and as you know I’m a life and relationship coach.

Now the people we reach are often CREATIVE professionals.

Creative professionals are dreamers who have a drive to do things their own way – they have a drive to put their work and love into the world in big ways – many times they’re entrepreneurs, or artists. Some are authors, and many are business owners.

These are our people … and to be honest … our people come to us exhausted!

Creative professionals are exhausted because Putting yourself out there and figuring out how to manage your own health, your own relationships, AND accomplishing your dreams, while creating peace in your emotional and spiritual lives, can feel impossible.

Now, cris and I get this. We have both been creative entrepreneurs for the past 15 years.

We’ve raised a family – did things the hard way for a long time – and our relationships suffered because of it.

But we’ve learned a lot. ANd we’re still growing and learning new things daily.

The biggest thing we’re learning is to ENJOY this ONE life NOW – in the process of accomplishing big things.

We believe wholeheartedly that accomplishing your big dreams is possible. And we believe it’s time to enjoy and nurture your whole life in the process.

It’s no longer okay to hustle so much that your life feels exhausting. And we wnat to help bring ease and clarity to your life as a whole.

There are business coaches.

And there are relationship coaches.

But we’re coming together to give you both. In ONE community where we HONOR our INNATE desire to live a big life. We go after the goals and accomplish the dreams – but … we don’t do so at the expense of our health and relationships anymore.

In this new community, we understand that HEALTH, LOVE, and Emotional Well-being help us meet our goals quicker.

And managing our time to include all of these pillars creates a life we can revel in. A life where we are thoroughly enjoying the JOURNEY all the way to our dreams!

We’re offering a free workshop called The Big Magical Life Workshop – where you’ll learn the steps to honoring your life as a whole … not just relationships…. Not just your goals and dreams … not just your health – but the whole package!  Because a life you can revel in – requires attention and focus on all of them.

Cris and I are the PERFECT team to lead you through this!

We are SO excited to share with you what we’ve learned and what has helped us over the years.

We’re excited to share the steps we use to help our clients – and the simple framework to help YOU Visioneer a life where you’re healing yourself and your relationships and accomplishing massive dreams. And in the process, you’ll learn to ENJOY the JOURNEY the whole way there.

You’re not gonna want to miss this free workshop! You can sign up at rachaelcunningham.com/BigMagic

Enjoy the Show?