“I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything.”


Has anyone ever said that to you? Worse yet, have you used that reasoning as an excuse for not having an important conversation?

As adults, we should all know how to have most conversations, even the tough ones. Yet, we often have trouble broaching conversations about uncomfortable or difficult matters. Avoiding a topic because you’re unsure how to initiate it, or you fear the subject matter may lead to an argument, are bad excuses for not communicating. In truth, you may also be setting yourself up for more stress and an even bigger problem. This is because you then have the additional problem of having to defend yourself as to why you chose to remain silent. In the long run, if the topic is something that you know in your heart or your gut needs to be discussed, give it a try.

You see, avoiding a conversation is often interpreted by the other person as a lack of caring, lack of interest and sometimes, depending upon the topic, may result in you appearing as untrustworthy or sneaky. Ultimately, the other person usually simply wishes that you had spoken to them about it sooner.

So the next time you want to say something but you’re unsure what to say and how to say it, here are a few suggestions to get you started:


You can talk about your difficulty bringing up the subject matter.
 “This is not an easy topic for me to talk about, so please bear with me.”

“You know I’m not a big communicator, but I thought it was important that we brainstormed together about this subject. I hope you agree.”

“I really want to get along and not fight with you. This is a tough topic for me to talk about, so please let me finish what I have to say and then I’d like to hear your thoughts.”

Start with the positives – everyone wants to hear something nice about himself or herself!
“I appreciate that you made time to talk to me.”

“I know you’ve been making an effort and that means a lot to me.”

State your intentions. This is also Step #1 of the Relationship Protocol model.  

 “I want us to get along better and be closer."

“I’m not looking to argue with you about this topic; I just want to have an honest conversation about what’s been going on.”

“You are important to me and I want to get along with you, not fight about this.”

If you are unhappy about something they are doing, describe how their behavior makes you feel; don’t blame or shame.

“When you speak to me in that tone, it gets me very angry. It feels condescending and hurtful.”

“I need you to please stop raising your voice. It’s intense and it upsets me.”

“When you don’t follow up with a phone call, it comes across as if this company and I are not important to you.”

Give them the benefit of the doubt, if it’s relevant to the topic.

“I don’t think that was your intention, but that’s how it seemed to me.”

“I know your intention is to do the right thing, but this time, I think you may have dropped the ball.”

“I trust you; however, when you behave like this, it makes me question if you are trustworthy.”


I hope you can see that there are many options for starting those tough conversations. Give it a try! For more in-depth information about relationships and communication, read The Relationship Protocol book. Click Here