Transformational change can be difficult even without having to worry about others being impacted. But when your loved ones are baffled or resistant, that adds a new dimension to the challenge.

However, there are ways to communicate your needs and to hear the needs of others as you work through change. One suggestion is to set a time when you feel calm to talk with your loved one. This is not meant as a time to convince them to accept your changes but instead to hear them out and find out what is bothering or worrying them. Many times they are afraid that your personal change is signaling a change in the relationship they may not be able to handle. They will resist your change as long as they are afraid of it. By listening to their fears you can help alleviate their concerns or together find solutions. Attending to their needs can lead to their acceptance and support of yours.

To make sure that your primary relationships can grow in times of change you have to make it a priority to communicate regularly. Things can shift too quickly and you need to stay connected. That can be difficult in the highly emotional “break down stages” of change when so much of your energy and attention is focused inward, on your own struggles. This is a time when you feel most vulnerable and need support and understanding of others but often may not have the energy to reach out. It is typical for loved ones to misunderstand your behaviors, take it personally, feel shut out or at least diminished in your life. That can give rise to various fears which then play out as change-back pressure.

I would recommend that you follow these 7 steps to position your conversations for success.

1. Working through issues takes time and attention. Think of this as a time to tune up your relationship. You cannot have quality conversations on the run. So agree on a time when you can actually spend some quality time with one another. Treat it as a special time when you are halting everything else to honor and promote the health of your relationship.

2. When possible make this a special occasion by sharing a meal, walking in the park, watching a sunset or anything else that creates a peaceful surrounding and signifies a special time for you.

3. Set a positive foundation for the discussion that fortifies the love you have for one another. For example before talking about the issues that are separating you, talk about what you mean to one another and the value of the relationship for each you. Take your time to articulate the importance of finding ways that you can support each other in your personal growth while you nurture your relationship.

4. Transformational change is highly emotional and it makes us very vulnerable. Any time you discuss something that is emotionally charged you need to create an atmosphere of safety where you allow yourself to be vulnerable with each other without the fear of being hurt. Agree on certain interaction behaviors that are conducive to carry the conversation in a positive direction. These agreements can serve you throughout your future interactions with each other. For example: Agree not raise your voices, Try to understand the other person’s point of view, Look for win-win solutions, Treat each other with respect and remember that you love one another, Avoid blaming language. A technique to make agreements is for each of you to complete this sentence, “What I need from you to communicate fully and authentically is…” Write your answers down without any discussion. Once everything is written down, you can discuss and clarify the list and make agreements.

5. Use effective listening skills such as: Fully hear the other person when they talk. Remember that you will have your turn to talk Resist formulating answers while the other person is talking. Listen to their words as well as their body language. Check for understanding by rephrasing what you heard. Acknowledge what they say as truth for them even if not true for you. Pause after the other person is finished to absorb what you heard before speaking.

6. Ask each other questions that helps you understand and eventually come to win-win resolutions such as “What scares or bothers you about this change?”, “What do you hope for us?”, “How can I reassure you?”, “How can I support you?”, “How can I make it easier for you?”, “What questions can I answer to help you see my point of view? Notice that each person’s attention is in helping the other one understand and not to force the issue on them. Be realistic about your expectations. Consider it a success if you have taken positive steps towards understanding.

7. End each conversation by noticing the points of agreements, acknowledging each other for the authentic participation and reaffirm your love for one another.

Author's Bio: 

Afsaneh Noori is an Iranian born national speaker specializing in the topic of personal and organizational change as well as the author of "Change Thrivers-Your Resource Guide for Making Change Work". In 1994, Afsaneh founded Socio-Tech Systems Inc. (STS), a consulting firm that supports organizations in creating balanced strategies for transformational change. Her client list includes Essilor of America, City of Tampa, Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance, FL Recreation & Parks Association and TECO Energy, among others.

Afsaneh and her immediate family moved to the United States when she was 20 years old. Having to quickly learn a new culture and language became the basis of her deep interest in change dynamics and management. She attended the University of South Florida, where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Industrial Engineering.