How To Have A Difficult Conversation

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Having a tough or difficult conversation with someone is hard. It’s not for the faint of heart. If I need to have a tough conversation with someone I go through what I call “mental gymnastics.” I usually have a conversation with myself that goes something like this.

“I know I need to have the conversation.”
“I’m not the one to have the conversation.”
“Someone else should have the conversation.”
“It’s not really that big of a deal anyway.”
“I will let someone else have the conversation.”
“Maybe I should have the conversation.”

The above conversation can happen in a period of minutes, days or weeks and the longer I put it off the easier it is to ignore the conversation, the tough conversation I need to have.

The fact is I don’t want to have the tough conversation because tough conversations are awkward, cause emotional stress, and usually involve some type of mild confrontation that I just don’t like. Bottom line, I am afraid to have the conversation. Afraid of their response, afraid they won’t take it well and afraid of how they will perceive me after the conversation. Fear. That element that holds us captive like an emotional jail cell. It paralyzes us and holds us hostage in these situations but we can’t let fear have it’s way with us. let it.

So, If you have ever had a “conversation” with yourself or been in a situation where you need to have a tough conversation but don’t know what to do next I believe the following five steps will help you have that tough but necessary conversation.

Step One: Show Up
It is easy to ignore the fact that you need to have a tough conversation and easier still to  avoid one all together but it’s not in your best interest nor the interest of the person you need to talk to. Call them and get it on the calendar. Believe it or not, this first step is often the most difficult one.

Step Two: Quiet Up
Sit down and be silent before God. Ask Him for the wisdom and the words to say. Write down what you want to say and stick to it. Often times, in difficult conversations, emotions can run high and emotions that run high are rarely good in a tough conversation. Out of control emotions make smart people stupid. When your emotions want to get the best of you, stop, quiet up, and look at the words God has given you to share. Remember, “Everything (we) say should be kind and well thought out” Colossians 4:6a GW.

Step Three: Pray Up
Ask God to give you the wisdom and courage to say what needs to be said.

Step Four: Speak Up
Don’t have failure of nerve when the opportunity arrises. You have sat before God, asked for his guidance, processed what He has said and now is the time to say it. Speak the truth with grace, mercy and love.

Step Five: Listen Up
After you have said what needs to be said, listen. Listen to their feedback and response. They may get up and walk away, they may get angry, they may sit silently. You can not control their response but you can control yours. Just listen. I know It’s hard to listen because the Bible gives so much advice on how to do it! We are reminded in the book of James to, “always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily, because anger will not help you live the right kind of life God wants.” James 1:19-20 NCV

Difficult conversations are not easy, heck, even writing about it isn’t easy! My hope is for each of us to take these five healthy steps before our next difficult conversation. It will make a difference.

Do you need to have a tough conversation with someone this week? Let me know when you have finished step one and we will pray for you on that day.

Photo Credit: Petr Vaclavek Image ID: 97778342