As an opinionated and progressive British Indian girl, I have spent much of my adult life challenging and questioning the societal and cultural ‘norms’ that I grew up with.
I have often butted heads with my parents as a result of generational differences but, over the years, I have become more skilled at handling those big conversations.
Although we are slowly becoming a more open-minded and accepting community, real change will only come from having difficult conversations, challenging outdated values and beliefs, and re-educating others.
So, whether you are hoping to open up about your identity or sexuality or share a new relationship with the ones you love, my top-five tips are guaranteed to set you up for success!
The location is vital. Make sure you choose somewhere that everyone feels comfortable and relaxed; if you’re out and about, you may not get the privacy that you need. Also, pick a time when you know you’ll be able to have a full chat, without being disturbed. Leaving big conversations incomplete can put unnecessary strain on everyone as worrying about ‘what-ifs’ and guessing the reaction of others is usually far worse than reality.
If you have a friend, partner, or sibling who you trust, you could ask them to be present for moral support or to act as a mediator.
Any form of persuasion, whether it’s a formal letter or an informal chat, requires you to know your stuff. Gather the facts on the topic at hand and be ready to calmly answer any questions that your loved ones may have.
Remember, although this is right and normal and comfortable for you if you are challenging beliefs that someone has held for entire lifetimes or generations you might have to explain and educate with patience. People are often scared of the unknown and we can, therefore, reduce resistance and build understanding by providing them with clear and indisputable facts.
It’s okay to write down or rehearse exactly what you would like to say so that you feel prepared. When we’re running high on emotion or adrenaline, it’s often more difficult to communicate and things can be left unsaid. Keep your main point short and clear and if you’re using any terminology that you think they won’t understand, offer a simple definition in the same sentence.
Ask to speak without being interrupted and then invite any questions at the end – conversations require input from both sides but don’t allow yourself to be railroaded.
Regardless of how nervous or apprehensive, you may be feeling about baring all, deep down, you know that your loved ones LOVE you. Most often, our family and friends want what’s best for us and when we venture into what appears to them as unchartered waters, their concerns come from a place of love and care.
Once you’ve initiated a big conversation, as well as being true to yourself and building your inner strength, you’re also opening the door to deepen your relationship with your confidant and strengthen your bond.
What if it all goes wrong? If you feel that tensions are running high and progress isn’t being made, it’s okay to end the conversation and revisit the matter at a later date. Life isn’t a fairy-tale and sometimes people need time and patience to process new ideas or changes. Try not to react in the heat of the moment and say things that you’ll regret in the long-term or hand out any rash ultimatums.
If you do not get the response that you wanted, take some time to regroup and find support in a different direction, whether that is friend, online support, or a charity where you can get advice.
It takes a lot of strength to accept and share every part of yourself with the ones you love so if you’re not quite there, don’t be hard on yourself.
Research, learn and grow, and when you’re ready to take the plunge and open up, just remember that you are not alone – the Tickle. Life community has got your back.
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