How to Communicate Sensitive Issues

Written by kyra sheahan
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How to Communicate Sensitive Issues
Set aside time for a private conversation. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Every relationship breeds it own set of unusual or unexpected events that are impossible to prepare for but important to communicate. Talking with your loved ones and family about sensitive issues is crucial in maintaining open communication within the family unit. While having a serious discussion can seem scary or challenging, the relationships with those closest to you will be stronger when you include them, rather than shutting them out and bottling up the issues you need to discuss.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Make the decision to have a serious discussion about your sensitive issue. Whether you want to confess to a friend that you want a divorce or let relatives know about an illness you have, it is important to feel confident in your decision to share.

  2. 2

    Plan out what you want to say. You might even rehearse it a couple of times to make sure you get it right. It is important that you do not come across abrasive. Use language that is sensitive and caring rather than making harsh statements.

  3. 3

    Set aside an appropriate time for the serious discussion. You do not want to bring up sensitive issues in the midst of sending kids off to school, for example, or during a time filled with distractions. Rather, pick a time where you and the other person, or people, can sit and have a quiet talk without interruptions.

  4. 4

    Try to fill in any gaps or voids of information before jumping to the serious issue. For instance, if you are letting your family know you have an illness, you might start out by saying, "Remember when I had those stomachaches last month, and I had to give up eating pizza?" This is a more approachable way to begin the discussion than jumping right in and saying, "I have an ulcer."

  5. 5

    Tailor your information to the appropriate age of your audience. If you are talking to young children, break the information into terms and phrases they can understand.

  6. 6

    Allow people a moment to gather their thoughts. After hearing news about a sensitive issue, people might react strongly, feel shocked or not react at all because they do not know what to think or do. Gauge the responses of those with whom you are having the discussion.

  7. 7

    Offer your comfort. Breaking important news is hard, and it is also hard for others to receive the information. Respect the reactions of those to whom you are talking.

  8. 8

    Be prepared to answer difficult questions. If you are confessing a sensitive issue, others might have questions for you. If you are talking to young children, you might initiate the questions if they seem afraid to ask them. For instance, you might say, "Do either of you want to know why we made this decision?" or "What questions do you have for us?"

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