How do I have a constructive conversation?

Bottom line, remember that you are speaking with someone you care about. They are a person, not an issue. Listen, understand and avoid becoming argumentative. Here are some additional tips to keep your conversation constructive:

  • Speak on Facetime, Skype or another video chat service
  • Start the conversation by saying thank you and catching up a little about personal things 
  • Reinforce your intentions to understand, not convince, the other
  • Avoid talking about people, talk about issues and how they affect each other personally
  • Establish some guidelines...for example:
    • Listen respectfully, without interrupting
    • Listen actively and with an ear to understanding others' views (don’t just think about what you are going to say while someone else is talking)
    • Commit to learning, not debating -- comment in order to share information, not to persuade
    • Avoid blame, speculation, and inflammatory language
    • Avoid  assumptions about the other person
  • Respond with more questions than comments
  • Reflect back what you are hearing (i.e. "It sounds like you are concerned about security and the safety of your family")
  • Download and have both people fill out the Burst! conversation worksheet to collect your thoughts ahead of the conversation