I am in a position in life where I “get to” and “need to” have difficult conversations on a regular basis. Any time you are in leadership you will have to discuss, evaluate and try to encourage improvement in yourself and others, and that process can be difficult. In my position, most of my difficult conversations have to do with life choices and heart issues and at times those discussions can be challenging. However, over the years there are aspects of these conversations that I have grown to appreciate and therefore I would say that I have a love/hate relationship with difficult discussions.
I think it’s pretty easy to understand why I hate hard discussions, however there are so many good things that come out of “well thought out” difficult discussions – and these apply across the board to way more areas than just church life! If you are married, on occasion you need to have difficult discussions. If you are an employee or employer, on occassion you need to have difficult discussions. If you are a parent, or a student or even just a friend to someone, on occassion you need to have difficult conversation. Now before I share with you why I both love and hate these types of discussions, let me define some situations that might fall into this category. When I say “difficult discussions” I mean: you need to talk with your spouse about spending patterns…that’s difficult. You need to talk with an employee about his refusal to meet your expectations…that’s difficult. You know that you should talk with your friend about the way that they are treating their kids and their spouse…that’s difficult. These are just a few examples, you likely have some of your own right now, but let me share with you why I love/hate these talks.
Why I hate these talks
I’d guess that it’s pretty easy to understand why I don’t like the responsibility of sharing my observations with others concerning their lives, but there are some pretty particular reasons that I struggle in this area. First of all, fear and anxiety makes it difficult to have these conversations. Fears about what others will think, how they will react and what will happen to our relationship are very real. Maybe you’ve experienced those feelings and it’s kept you from saying anything. I know I have! Second, all of the “what if’s” roll through my head as I am preparing to have a difficult conversation. What if they get mad? What if they don’t respond well? What if they quit? These are some of the things that we all experience when we need to step into someone’s life.
Reasons I love difficult conversations – Despite finding these conversations difficult, there are several reasons that I’ve grown to love them and would encourage you to embrace a gracious, loving and truthful approach to your relationships!
- Having difficult conversations allows both parties to grow and improve! It doesn’t matter if your conversation is revolving around work, school, home or spiritual life, everyone has room to grow and improve. I’ve found that we don’t tend to grow when we are allowed to coast! When we drift, we drift down stream…not up! I also think that each of us want to be the very best that we can be in the different aspects of our lives, therefore at times we need to be challenged and encouraged. Having difficult conversations can accomplish this as long as the conversation ends with help and hope!
- Generally, these conversations strengthen your relationships. Recently I had a conversation with my wife where I shared a few things that I had been thinking about. I was nervous about sharing these thoughts, however after we were able to talk and discuss them, our relationship was strengthened and even more trust was built! This is why I love these types of discussions. My closest friends are people that I can absolutely tell the truth to and they can do the same to me…and we do.
- Difficult discussions force both parties to check their motivations and fight drift! Whenever you are going to talk with someone about something you’ve noticed in their lives, you need to check yourself first. I think it was a famous philosopher (jk) who said: “Check yourself before you wreck yourself”. When I’m struggling with something and a friend talks with me about it, it guards me from coasting and vice versa.
- Difficult conversations cause me to pray and rely on God. I love difficult conversations because they make me uncomfortable, which causes me to run to God for help. This is a good thing for all of us to embrace. I am naturally inclined to taking care of things myself and so when I feel out of my comfort zone I am reminded that I need someone bigger than me!
Let me leave you with this: I know these discussions are not fun, but they are fruitful. Proverbs 27:6 says – “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” In other words, someone who tells you the truth in a gracious way is to be trusted over someone who simply says whatever we want to hear!
So…how about you? How do you feel about difficult conversations? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.