The mere thought of having a difficult conversation fills you with anxiety and distracts you from what matters most. Great relationships are built on effective communication.
Whether with your friends, family, coworkers, your partner, or even strangers- your connection is more meaningful when you understand one another. Even a difficult conversation, when handled with grace and composure, can benefit any relationship.
Consider these tips the next time you face a difficult conversation:
- Pray. Ask God to reveal in you any place you might be at fault and need to confess sin. This will go a long way to minimize defensiveness and maximize humility. Humility is the needed ingredient in managing a difficult conversation.
- Face it as soon as possible. Although tempting to put off a difficult conversation, not dealing with an issue can make it worse. In addition, the anger and resentment you feel will fester. Ask God for the courage to start the conversation.
Imagine the issue from multiple perspectives. Ask God for compassion for the person, and see beyond their actions or words.
- Prepare before the conversation. Consider all aspects of your concerns. You may benefit from making a list of points you hope to discuss. What is the kindest approach to addressing these issues? How would you want someone to initiate with you? Try to find the heart of the issue, so you don’t get lost during the conversation.
- Decide what you want to accomplish. What is your ultimate goal? It’s important to have clear objectives in mind ahead of time to stay on topic. What kind of an outcome do you want? If you had to choose only one idea to be understood by the other party, what would it be?
Do you want to see things change? In what way? What are you willing to offer you’ll do to create a positive change in communication patterns? Do you want the other person to apologize? Are you willing to go first?
- Give yourself time to calm down before you discuss the matter. If you’re angry or hurt, it may not be the best time to talk. It’s more effective to enter a difficult conversation with a calm attitude.
- Understand the importance of silence. Silence isn’t bad during a difficult conversation. Some moments we need to rest, or sit, listening for understanding. Pauses keep a healthy rhythm in conversation, avoiding escalation and allowing both parties to maintain calm.
- Watch your emotions. Anger sits on top of fear, it’s a secondary emotion. During the conversation, if you feel yourself getting angry, assess what’s making you afraid? Controlling your emotions is important. Try focusing on the other person’s feelings and exercising empathy.
- Think about your relationship. How have you invested in them? How have they invested in you? What history have you shared? Friends, coworkers, spouses, family members, and others, all have unique relationships with you. While the world teaches us to cut people out of our lives when things become strained, the Bible tells us as His kids, we are to pursue peace, as far as it depends on us.
Don’t take the easy road
It’s easier to avoid a difficult conversation, but when you ignore a problem can spiral into ongoing frustration. Consider how you can resolve the problem alone, or better yet- your relationships benefit greatly when you can work together to find a resolution.
Showing someone you are willing to have a difficult conversation with them communicates their value to you. They are worth it. Even if it makes you uncomfortable, the person is important enough for you to seek understanding. Handling tough conversations with grace is a sign of strength.