Avoid making a fool’s choice
Clarify what you really want from a conversation.
Why are you engaging in the conversation? What do you want to achieve from there?
Clarify what you really don’t want.
It’s also important to know what you don’t want. For example, in a conversation with your partner, you might say, “I don’t want the conversation to go around in circles and descend into petty point scoring.”
Present your brain with a more complex ‘and’ question.
Creating an ‘and’ question helps you combine the things you want and don’t want from the conversation, thereby avoiding the fool’s choice. For example, you might say, “I want to talk to my spouse about spending more time together, and I don’t want them to get defensive and dodge the question.” That way, you are no longer deciding between sparing their feelings and expressing what you want; you are finding ways to achieve both.