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How to have tricky conversations

Collage: Life Kit's host Marielle Segarra is on the left facing Moraya Seeger DeGeare, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist on the right. Text between them reads "How to have Tricky Conversations."
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We all need to have hard conversations — and not just with those close to us.

Uncomfortable exchanges can happen with people like our landlords, bosses and doctors. Whether you're sharing symptoms with your doctor or communicating your strengths in a job interview, those conversations can impact your life.

But often, we aren't taught how to have difficult conversations. Maybe you leave wishing you'd prepared more or been more vulnerable.

Here are some sticky conversations you might find yourself in and the language you might need to feel confident.

Helpful language when you're not sure how to respond...

If your cousin asks you to be their bridesmaid, but you can't afford it...

"I am so honored. I am in a kind of stressed financial position right now. And if I were going to be in your bridal party, I would want to do it right. If I wouldn't necessarily have to buy a dress, or anything like that, I would be so honored to join or play whatever role." -Stacey Vanek Smith, NPR's Global Economics Correspondent

If you feel like you're ready to move on from your therapist...

"Do you need to process this ending? If you need to process this ending, you should process this ending. This is a time to be selfish, right? This does not mean you're a narcissist or something like that. You get a center your own needs. The therapist is highly trained to handle these conversations. If it goes poorly, that's on them to figure out what other training they need." - Moraya Seeger DeGeare, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

If you want to ask a new partner about their sexual health...

"I always recommend to actually disclose one's own status, especially when you were last tested. I do recommend saying what you were tested for and if your results were negative or positive. I try to tell people not to use the word 'clean.' And lastly, just end it with, 'How about you?' So it becomes an invitation." – Dr. Evalene Dacker

If you freeze up in a job interview...

"I recommend people think of three things that you want [the interviewer] to remember about you. So if they ask you a question about something and maybe you fumble the answer, then you find a way to circle it back to one of those three points." – Cynthia Pong, Embrace Change

If you're trying to negotiate down a medical bill...

"I am calling because I'm looking at this bill and I would like to try and close it out today. So I have a $1,000 bill, and I would like to see if you all have a settlement amount on that if I pay right now?" - Jared Walker, Dollar For

If your doctor is dismissive of your symptoms...

"That is a warning sign. You need to hit the pause button and take control again and say, 'Let's talk about my symptoms. Did you not hear me? This is really what is bothering me. It's affecting my way of life. I cannot go to work. I need your help.' Putting it into the context of how it's affecting your daily activities of living could help. And if you're still not being heard, finding another doctor is definitely important." - Dr. Jennifer Mieres

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