F rom daily chatting to serious DMCs, there are an unending amount of reasons you may huddle with your friends and talk. Sometimes you may feel confident, but do nuggets of doubt and social fears sometimes hold you back? Do you have a few minutes? Let’s have a serious conversation about when to talk out an issue — and how to do it right.

Expressing: Ouch, That Hurt!

The hallmarks of healthy relationships are respect, kindness, trust, warmth, and connection. A prerequisite to the start of a relationship is to be positive about people’s actions. The Rambam writes that it’s a great quality for a person to be sensitive, not hardened, to another’s pain. Here, we mean: don’t take things personally!

“You can walk on the street and take an unintentional bump by someone else’s elbow as a personal jab,” says Rebbetzin Nechama Mintz, a therapist certified in family and couple counseling. “In short, be dan l’chaf zechus. If you always bring everything up with friends, you’ll be seen as a pain in the neck. Nobody likes feeling like they need to tiptoe around someone, and people find it uncomfortable to constantly have issues thrown in their face.

“Still, a relationship requires respect. Everyone needs to feel valued. If there’s something that bothers you, and you debate whether you should swallow it and move on, or talk to your friend about it, you should think, How important is the relationship? How big is the misdeed? If you feel it’s worthwhile, deal with it. If the conversation ends well, you gain an enhanced relationship.”

The motive for talking through a problem should be to accomplish something specific. (No, revenge doesn’t count.) “Talk to people when you’re sad, not mad. If all you want to do is vent to your friend about how upset you are at her, find a different person to talk to (while heeding the laws of shemiras halashon),” clarifies Rebbetzin Mintz.

“I had a teenage client,” Rebbetzin Mintz shares, “who had a hard time with friends. We got to the root of the problem — she was just too sensitive, thinking girls were intentionally hurting her. Now when she gets turned off by thoughtless comments, she turns them into jokes. (‘You didn’t mean to step on my toe, did you?’) That works for her and her circle of friends has grown.”

A conversation is not one-sided. Just like you’d expect consideration from others, you need to be respectful to others. Don’t attack or hurl accusations, instead ask for clarification. A good start-off point can be, “I was puzzled when you…” as well as “I-statements,” as in “l felt ____ when ____ happened.” That way, you’re sharing your experience, instead of blaming.

Rebbetzin Mintz warns against labeling people, by saying things like, “You were so mean to me.” Watch out for any questions that start with “Why….” Listen to the difference between, “Why didn’t you come to my sister’s chasunah?” and “I was so surprised when I didn’t see you at my sister’s chasunah. What happened?” (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 680)