Having a Difficult Conversation 3
Almost nobody likes thinking about a difficult conversation. I've lost sleep thinking about them. I've tried hard to talk myself out of having them, and succeeded a time or two!
But honest, loving, hard discussions can help restore the relationship from some of the brokenness we experience when we're offended.
And keep us from taking offense.
We've been sharing some thoughts in this series of blogposts about preparing for hard conversations, and what are some tools to carry that can help repair and even deepen harmed relationships.
Here are some additional thoughts for the actual conversation:
1. Speak in the first person. One sure way to make someone feel attacked is to begin every sentence with "you." A better way is to say something like, "The other day I felt awkward and I didn't know how to respond when you made that remark about my idea." By doing this, you communicate it's the discomfort you want to address, not what an inconsiderate idiot they are. It's quite possible what they said or did was thoughtless or inconsiderate, but it isn't likely to have been an intentional personal attack on you.
2. Be polite. "How in the world could any person with a pea brain think that?" Not good. Leave your sarcasm at home. Watch your body language. Be open to conversation, because that's what this is, a conversation, a hard conversation.
3. Don't exaggerate or paraphrase. When you do, you are going to lose credibility ("I never said that"), make yourself appear as if you don't listen, and come across as hostile; none of which helps restore tweaked relationships.
4. Keep it brief. Have I said this before? It's really, really important, especially in difficult conversations. You won't solve 5 years or 25 years of stuff in one conversation. Sorry, but no one wants psychotherapy from you. No one wants some long-winded lecture for an off-the-cuff remark they didn't even know would offend you.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
And here's a take on Nathan's brave, strong, clear difficult conversation with King David. He didn't do it all right, but he did it, and David grew as he heard it, wrting Psalm 32 and 51 and more as a good fruit of the faithful wounds of a friend.