LWBW: Growing Together Even in Difficult Conversations

photo credit: Pellumb Reshidi

I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike. - Maya Angelou

Hello My Dear Moose,

As we settle into the semester, we find ourselves in new relationships, returning to old ones, and finding that some have changed. Even if these relationships are good, we may also find ourselves frustrated or hurt and wanting to have a difficult conversation. This can be even more difficult when our social skills are a little rusty and we are happy to just be together again.

Contemplating a difficult conversation?

It’s normal to feel uncomfortable or nervous about broaching a sensitive topic with a peer, roommate, or friend. Here are examples of some of the more common types of difficult conversations:

  • Ending a relationship

  • Asking a roommate to change living conditions

  • Talking to a teammate or peer who isn’t keeping commitments

  • Discussing matters related to sexual intimacy or personal hygiene

  • Discussing mental health related issues, such as substance abuse or disordered eating

  • Discussing a topic related to race, religion, or politics

  • Differences in following Covid guidelines

Why have a tough conversation?

  • It’s part of growing up. Advocating for yourself and sharing your point of view is how adults get their needs met.

  • You can improve your personal relationships and build a stronger, better community when you effectively engage in difficult conversations.

  • You can alleviate a source of personal stress when you constructively communicate about an issue that really bothers you.

Basic Steps for Managing Difficult Conversations:

Instead of...

Try this...


Tolerate differing points of view ~ which doesn’t mean acceptance or agreement


Take responsibility for your contribution

Say things you’ll later regret

Focus on the behavior, not the person

Engage when emotions are still raw

Agree on an appropriate time and place

Read this far? Please attend College Council's study break on Thursday night for a lovely surprise. More information to follow!

How to Grow Together

“I” vs “You” Statements: Frame your feelings instead of acting out your feeling.

State the impact that their actions have on you rather than criticizing their actions.

“You have not done anything for this project” vs “I feel overwhelmed when you don’t help with this project.”

Be in a conversation, not a lecture: Leave the lecturing for your professors.

Allow the other person to respond. If you have a side to present, they probably do as well.

Connect even with differences: We are more alike than we are different. Before starting the conversation, review what you have in common. Focusing on commonalities makes people feel less judged and more likely to listen.

Discomfort versus injury: Where to draw the line. Facing discomfort can help both sides grow. If the person is in a position to injure you because of where you are emotionally or because of their influence on you or others around you, protect yourself and seek support. We offer a variety of resources.

This is a complicated topic. There are many additional campus resources to help you.

Counseling & Psychological Services

Princeton Peer Nightline

Office of Religious Life


LGBTQ Center

What is Live Well Be Well @ Mathey?

This multifaceted program is designed to address Matheyites' total wellbeing — mind, body and spirit. Live Well Be Well is a full-year program that allows Matheyites to learn and practice lifelong healthy habits in creative and personally meaningful ways.

Moose Love,

Dr. Cepin