Recently I have had to have some very difficult conversations and I knew that I had to do these conversations correctly or there would be further issues as a result. Difficult conversations do not end well sometimes, for numerous reasons. Sometimes they do end well but you may never know why it ended well.

How do you deal with difficult conversations? Do you take the hard yards or do you avoid the difficult conversation? If the timing is correct and your motives are pure, then sometimes the most difficult conversations can be had.

The verse that comes to my mind to remind me of the right thing to do is Ephesians 4:15: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Also, I have found in the past that if I have questions on how to do some things, I can generally find the answer in Proverbs. I say generally because sometimes the answer in Proverbs isn’t what I was hoping it would be.

My search for answers last week led me to Proverbs 12:18: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

I knew that this was going to be very difficult, but I knew that I had to be gentle and thoughtful during my conversations, but how to do that escaped me. So, I looked at the Bible and found four ways to prepare for a difficult conversation—

  1. Get your motives right: The stress of a tough conversation has a way of surfacing selfish motives even more than usual. Ask yourself What do I really want? What do I want for me? For the other person? What does God Want?
  2. Get your emotions right: Many of us absolve ourselves of responsibility or a problem or bring other unhealthy emotions to the conversation. Before having a difficult conversation, ensure that you own your part and emotions are rational.
  3. Gather the facts: Difficult conversations come with opposing views. You may have a history and feelings that shape your conclusions, while others have theirs. Do your research and gather facts. Don’t build your arguments around assumptions or feelings.
  4. Get curious: This is the tough one. Be prepared for the Holy Spirit to prompt you: sometimes the facts we think we discovered are wrong, and instead of chastisement we may need compassion. Be willing to listen, and then when you’re done listening, listen some more.

This model has worked for me and I pray that it may help you.

Rod Cole-Clarke