Your business is having some financial challenges that you're bringing home with you. Maybe you're taking a smaller bonus this year or considering laying off staff. The bottom line is that money will soon be exceedingly tight at home.
You know that to align your new work reality, you need to have a difficult money conversation with your spouse or significant other and you've been dreading it. Take some comfort that you're not alone -- talking with your home team about money can make even the savviest CEO sweat bullets.
But it's actually easier than you think. It's all about getting your mindset in the right place: a firm resolve to enter the discussion without blame, accusations, anger, or hurt feelings.
To increase the likelihood of a productive, stress-free money conversation, you must create the conditions for optimal success:
- Schedule a time when both of your energies are strong. Having a difficult conversation when you're dead tired is a recipe for disaster.
- Choose a setting where you feel safe, but also not so public that your 'frankness' will be overheard. Your local coffee shop is a bad idea.
- Agree on the purpose of the meeting and set out some ground rules. You might commit to listening without interruption, keeping the volume at a friendly level, not throwing tantrums, and most importantly, being mutually willing to find a solution.
- Acknowledge that everyone judges based on their own points of view and their history with money. Try to stay away from negative judgments.
- Verbalize your concerns about the subject matter. Have a "no surprises" policy.
- Identify, before you sit down, what trigger words or phrases will be unproductive, such as words that inspire blame or shame ("you always...").
- Set a time limit. You can always talk again, but this allows you both a contained window to have a frank discussion.
- Write down your ideas in advance, just like you would with your business plan or if you were having the same discussion at work. This allows you to stick to a well-conceived discussion.
- Ask questions that begin with, "Help me understand," or "Can you explain that a little more?" Begin with the easy stuff and rack up the victories for positive energy.
- Agree to a signal to create a buffer if emotions start to flare. "I need a minute..." or "Let me think about that..."
- Maintain a positive attitude and a loving posture. This mindset and intention will carry you through the most difficult conversations while brining you closer together.
Always begin your money conversations with the idea that compassion and understanding must be front and center at all times, and be sure to celebrate the victories no matter how small they may seem at first. Getting through the conversation with no blame or judgment deserves a little recognition and will make your next conversation flow easier.
Great money communication at home pays dividends in your work and personal lives: deeper intimacy, a sense of partnership, and enhanced security that you can work through obstacles together.