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Part 2 - What If They Get Defensive?

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    Last week, we discussed the timeliness and care that should be taken when engaging in this discussion with your loved one. This week we'll look at techniques to put your loved one at-ease and not defensive.

    Worried the discussion will make them defensive?

    If so, that’s likely to show in your tone or actions, and they’ll oblige by digging in their heels. To steer clear of any tug-of-war, try any of the following:

    • Prepare a script— not to use, but to get your thoughts clear and organized ahead of time, and to decide what to cover in a given chat.

    • Write your loved one a letter— not to give to them, but to explore your emotions and thoughts.

    • Try writing yourself a letter from your loved one’s point of view and see if you can discover their underlying feelings, hopes, and fears.

    • Narrow down your precise concerns. What do you feel anxious about? Does it just feel too awkward to talk about certain things? Decide what your apprehensions are so that you can prepare and approach the issues more confidently.

    • If your suggestions have previously been met with stubbornness or blocked with silence, enlist the help of a friend who shares a similar story. Have your friend play the role of your loved one and see if the two of you can devise strategies for productive talks.

    If your loved one becomes self-protective or cynical, don’t concentrate on “winning the argument.” Strive to conclude the conversation gracefully. Shift your expectation to that goal, and you’ll be better off!

    To your loved one, which issues are straightforward and which are sensitive? One person may be prickly about the idea of “outside help” assisting with issues of day-to-day living, while another may not fret about it. One person may cringe at personal finances or potential medical scenarios. Another may be open to discussing monetary or health concerns. Follow your loved one’s lead and respect their level of emotional attachment to issues you address. Try using phrases like “educated decision” and “your personal choices” to emphasize the overall objective.

    Next week, we'll propose some practical tips to consider when preparing for your talk.

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