Having difficult conversations is a part of life. This means that everybody needs to develop a strategy for dealing with them. If you’re struggling to discuss the F word – Finance, then here are some tips to help.
Start with why
Start by verbalising why you feel it’s important to have the conversation. You don’t have to share this with anybody else. You do, however, need to be clear in your own mind about why the conversation is important.
Define your preferred outcome
Once you’ve established why you think the conversation is important, determine what you want to achieve with it. As always, it’s important to be realistic here. In particular, keep in mind that you can’t control how other people feel about something. At most, you will be able to influence them.
It can be best, if possible, to define three acceptable outcomes in order of preference. Aim for your best outcome but be prepared to settle for your second- or third-best outcomes. Your third-best outcome should, however, usually be a line in the sand. If going beyond it would really make you unhappy, then you need to be prepared to stand your ground.
Come prepared with options
As a rule of thumb, people dislike being presented with problems. They much prefer to be presented with solutions. It’s even better if you can come up with a few different solutions for them to choose the one they like best. At the same time, be prepared to go with somebody else’s suggestion if that’s what it takes to achieve a suitable outcome.
Remember, you don’t have to think that the other person’s solution is better than yours. You don’t even have to think that it’s as good as yours. You just have to be able to work with it comfortably and be confident that it will get you where you want to go.
Find a suitable time
If you want to have a productive discussion about finance (or anything else) then it needs to happen when both people are in the right mental zone. This can mean agreeing a time in advance.
Alternatively, it can just mean that you pick your moment with care. If you go down the latter route, then you need to keep in mind that you may accidentally choose the wrong moment. If you do, then you might want to try to get a commitment to having the discussion at another time.
Essentially, this comes down to judgement. On the one hand, it’s important to allow the other person a decent amount of mental breathing space. On the other hand, it’s important to stop this from becoming an excuse for not having the discussion at all.
Choose the place carefully
Locations matter, that’s why successful businesses of all kinds pay close attention to them. At a minimum, you need a place that gives you enough privacy. Think about sound as well as sight. There’s no point in keeping financial documents out of view if you’re having to raise your voices to be heard over background noise.
Ideally, you want to meet in a place that helps you get in the right mental zone. For example, your bedroom may be private but it’s the place you go to relax and sleep. It’s therefore generally preferable to avoid having significant discussions there, especially not when you’re tired.
Your meeting place doesn’t have to be indoors, at least not in the conventional sense. If you have a car, you could drive somewhere, park up and talk. If you don’t have a car, you could still use public transport to go somewhere out of the home. You can find private spots out of doors. You might even be able to walk and talk if you don’t need to look at the paperwork.
If you would like to review your current finances with a professional advisor, please get in touch