The Hitching Post
Awkward and confronting conversations seem to be unavoidable. A part of life, a part of growing up. We’ve all had them. And as much as a wedding is a time of joyous celebration… it’s also a time of deep discussions, (dis)agreements and a whirlwind of emotions (both for yourselves, and others).
From having to ‘lay down the law’ with wayward bridal party members, talking about money with your parents, making arrangements with suppliers who aren’t quite listening to you, having seating chart discussions regarding placement of extended family members… the list of tricky topics goes on (not to mention those with your future partner “you want HOW many kids?”).
Given that you won’t be able to avoid awkward conversations, here are a few tips for navigating these waters:
- Speak privately – any real discussion should be somewhere that is private, not going to be overheard, and will not end up potentially embarrassing someone.
- Sit – this will add some level of comfort, and even better if everyone has a cup of tea/coffee/glass of wine in their hands. You also want to talk when you are at the same height, either all stand or all sit (that way you aren’t talking ‘down’ to them or vice versa).
- Be honest, acknowledge your discomfort. If you try and gloss over it, you’ll come across as disingenuous. If you are anxious, (tempted to fidget, shift your weight, or avoid eye contact), acknowledge your anxiety and offer a quick sentence that explains what the other person already senses, such as, “I’m a little uncomfortable bringing this up.
- Be specific – plan what you want to say in advance. Know where you need the conversation to go, what ground it needs to cover and what you need the outcome to be.
- Offer a warning – Soften harsh words or direct questions with a simple warning. Instead of starting a conversation with, “Sarah, you are have been really rude to me and I don’t think I want you in my bridal party anymore,” soften the blow with a word of caution such as, “What I’m about to tell you might be difficult to hear.” That gives the other person a minute to emotionally prepare for what you’re about to say.
- Be polite, yet direct – keep it simple, stick to the facts and keep the conversation short. This is an emotional time, but try to steer clear of emotional outbursts.
- Be an active listener – give the other person a chance to process what you’ve said. Be an active listener by reflecting back what you hear and offering clarification on points that may have been misunderstood. Be prepared for the other person to experience intense emotions, from embarrassment and sadness to fear and anger. Unless the person becomes inappropriate, be willing to help him or her process those emotions for a bit.
- Draw the conversation to a clear close – awkward conversations often end in an equally awkward manner. Uncertainty about whether the conversation is actually over, or confusion about what should happen next, only adds to the clumsiness. If you’re going to follow up on something, say so. If you expect the other person to take further action, express your expectation.
Always take some deep breaths before entering into a tough talk with someone, especially if you are already upset. Don’t forget that yours aren’t the only emotions involved; weddings can bring out the best (and occasionally the worst) in all of us.
Sonya of Heavenly Weddings is an Adelaide-based wedding and event planner with 8 years’ experience, who was born organised (just ask her friends). She loves to exceed her clients’ expectations, making sure every event is flawless – right down to the last little detail.
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