By Paula Rizzo, founder of ListProducer.com and the author of Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed.
I had lunch with a friend recently and she shared her boyfriend troubles. They’d come to a point in the relationship where it made sense to start talking about the future and if each other was in it.
Eeek! A difficult discussion for sure! No one feels comfortable talking about sensitive subjects and she was trying to figure out the best way to approach it. I suggested a list!
I told her to make a list of all the things that were important to her and about what she wanted to discuss. I also said to take the time to really think things through before she even broached the subject with her boyfriend. She said she would, I wished her luck and she was on her way.
Fast forward one week — we spoke again after they had “the talk.” My friend was elated — her difficult “where is this relationship going” talk went well — and a list was the hero. She said the process of making a list really helped her to see what was important. She decided what she could live with and what she could live without.
She had a road map for her discussion and was ready to tackle a difficult situation. When she sat down with her boyfriend she referred to the list and started with the easy topics first and then eased into the harder ones.
As they chatted they stuck only to what was on the list — so that’s all they needed to focus on. There weren’t any arguments or yelling — they just systematically went through the list and covered all the important points.
My friend told me that the task of writing a list of what she wanted to do in her life — made it concrete and turned her dreams into goals. In the end there was no fighting — just a happy ending.
This won’t always be the outcome of course — but having a list will help you to gather your thoughts and remember what’s important. Other issues and arguments can sneak into your discussion, but if you use a list and stick to it — you will accomplish your goal easier. Next time you have a touchy subject to cover — make a list and stay on track.