Like politics and religion, money ranks near the top of the list in terms of uncomfortable conversations. And yet, it’s important – both for the health of your relationships and your own abundance – to get over this stigma.
Here are some common scenarios that call for a candid talk about finances, and some tips for navigating these conversations:
- A family member asks you for a loan, without acknowledging the previous times they’ve borrowed money without paying it back.
- You and your spouse are on two different pages when it comes to spending and saving. And you usually don’t discover the disparity until after the credit card statement comes in.
- Your parents are reaching retirement age, and you have no clue about their monthly income and expenses. What preparation have they made for long term care? Are they expecting, or will they eventually need, any financial support from you?
Conversations involving money can be extremely uncomfortable because the choices we make with finances impact many aspects of our lives. Conflicting values, differing perspectives on personal boundaries, and issues around freedom and control can easily become triggered when discussing finances.
The following 5 tips will help to make these conversations easier, less emotionally volatile, and therefore more effective:
Tip #1: Choose your time (and place) wisely.
Money conversations will feel far less confrontational if you schedule them ahead of time. This is not a conversation you should spring on someone who isn’t expecting it.
Unwelcome surprises can evoke defensiveness or overwhelm, particularly if the other person has other pressing matters on their mind.
When talking about money, it’s best to arrange a meeting time that’s dedicated to speaking only about that subject. If you feel the conversation could get heated, meet someplace tranquil and neural, rather than at home.
Tip #2: Discuss financial decisions ahead of time; not after the fact.
Whether it’s a conversation with aging parents or with your spouse about savings, lead time always works to your advantage.
The closer you are to a situation – such as nearing retirement or deciding how to pay for an upcoming family vacation, the harder it will be to discuss the situation logically. Discussing upcoming expenses in advance gives you more freedom of choice, which naturally diffuses some of the emotion around them.
As the old saying goes, we can choose between the pain or discipline or the pain of regret. A conversation ahead of time is far more comfortable than discovering later that it’s too late to make another choice.
Tip #3: If and when differences arise, take the time to understand the other person’s point of view.
You may run across differences about how to handle upcoming financial decisions – retirement goals, vacation plans, or spending habits. If this occurs, before reacting, stop and ask, “Why?”
For example, “Why do you think saving X dollars a month is unrealistic?” “Why do you feel it’s important to finance that purchase?” Asking why allows you to discover the underlying value the other person is trying to uphold. Or the underlying fear they are trying to ease. When you converse at the level of core values, rather than specifics, it’s much easier to find areas of mutual harmony. Remember that your goal is to strengthen your partnership or friendship, not to become adversarial.
Tip #4: Begin the conversation with a statement of intent.
Begin the conversation by stating your overall intention for him and for your relationship. For example, if your brother is asking you for another loan, you could say something to this effect: “I want you to know that I love and care about you, and I also want to have a clear and loving relationship with you. It doesn’t feel good to me to loan you more money until you’ve paid off what you’ve already borrowed.”
By prefacing your decision with your overarching intention for the relationship, the conversation is much easier to hear.
Tip #5: Remember that you’re only in control of your reaction, not the reactions of others.
When having a difficult money conversation, make sure you’re neutral and resolved with your decision within yourself. Give yourself permission to have your perspective and to do what you ultimately feel is best for you. And give the other person permission to react, knowing that it probably has far more to do with them than it does with you.
Christy Whitman is an energy healer, celebrity coach, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Having It All: A Woman’s Guide to Unlimited Abundance. If you’re ready to discover the limitlessness of your own wisdom and power, join Christy’s conscious community and begin to manifest greater abundance in your life with 7 days of free meditations.