Skill 1: Listening Up

  • Set a time to talk when you know you can really focus on the conversation.
  • Make eye contact. Watching someone’s face can help you listen better.
  • Don’t multitask by doing homework or scrolling through social media.
  • Focus on what the other person is saying, instead of planning how to respond.
  • Ask follow-up questions to avoid misunderstandings.

Skill 2: Practicing, Practicing, Practicing

  • You will make mistakes. That’s okay. It’s part of the process. So cut yourself some slack!
  • Some people respond well to humor. Others need you to get to the point. Try to approach the conversation in a way that works for both you and your friend.
  • Every time you try, you’ll get a little bit better at having tough or awkward conversations.

Skill 3: Leading With ‘I’

  • Use “I statements” to tell the other person how you’ve been affected by their actions.
  • Examples:
    • “I feel let down when you don’t respond to my texts.”
    • “I appreciated when you checked in on me today to make sure I was ok.”
    • “I don’t feel like my opinion is valued when you are looking at your phone while we talk.”

Avoid placing blame on or negatively judging the other person who you care about.

Skill 4: Staying out of the Danger Zone

  • Do not call someone names or embarrass them in front of others. It can have negative impacts on your relationship that last a long time.
  • Wait until the right time. You might need some time to process what just happened. That’s okay. Reacting in the heat of the moment might make you say or do something you don’t mean.

Keep practicing these four tips so you and your friends and parents can move forward together.

Every time you have a tough conversation, you’ll learn something new, which will make you a bit better the next time.