Aug 16, 2011

5 Questions to Ask Before Having a Hard Conversation

"Speak the Truth in Love" - Ephesians 4

Knowing how to effectively have a difficult conversation with someone is an area I am striving to grow in. I've gained some ground, but have a lot of room for improvement. For most people it's not something that comes natural or easy. But sometimes it's necessary if there is going to be spiritual growth and unity. Avoiding the conversation will only hinder the person or the ministry from moving forward.

Here five questions I ask myself before having a hard conversation.

Have I earned the right to have this conversation? Have I invested in this person's life? Have I taken the time to build a relationship with this person? When someone knows you genuinely care about them, their heart will be more open to hearing and receiving what you have to say.

Do I have the right motives? Am I just trying to scold because I or someone else was offended? Am I just trying to get back at someone? Do I truly believe this will help the person grow? Am I trying to preserve unity or just my image? The Bible tells us the hard conversation should come from a heart of love for the person. Not from a heart of anger, resentment, revenge, or pride.

Am I willing to put care before comfort? When the Bible talks about "speaking the truth in love" in Ephesians 4, it is in the context of spiritual growth and unity in the body of Christ. Having a hard conversation can be very uncomfortable. But we must ask ourselves...do I care more about preserving unity than I do about my personal comfort level? Do I care more about helping someone grow as a person than I do about my personal comfort level?

Have I thought through my words before I enter the hard conversation? Do I have a plan going into the conversation? Have I thought through answers to questions that may arise? Am I prepared to respond if the person gets defensive or angry? Effectively having a hard conversation is a skill that can be learned. There are some great books available that can help you know what to say and how to say it. Here are a few that have really been a help to me. You can order any of these on Amazon.                                                                                                                      
-How to Have That Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding                                                     
-Crucial Conversations...Tools for Talking When the Stakes Are High                                       
-Difficult Conversations...How to Discuss What Matters Most
-Crucial Conversations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior

Am I willing to take the time to help the person grow after the conversation? The goal of the conversation is to bring growth...and growth takes time and intentionality. The hard conversation is just the starting point. Am I committed to helping the person take growth steps out of the conversation? Am I willing to meet with them on a regular basis and help them be successful in the area I've challenged them in? Am I willing to be there to encourage them as they seek to grow?

Is there a hard conversation that you know you need to have? Maybe it's someone on your team who is causing disunity. Maybe it's a friend who has a blind spot that is keeping him or her from growing as a leader.  Maybe it's a co-worker who is not living with integrity in an area.

Is it time to stop putting the conversation off? Is it time to take a deep breath and schedule the meeting?

Before you do, ponder these five questions. You'll be glad you did on the other side of the conversation.

Posted by Dale Hudson

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