While most of us would like to avoid them, there are times when we have to have difficult conversations with people. It may be a conversation with a family member, friend, co-worker, teacher, supervisor, or with a fellow Christian. The very thought of having to have a hard conversation with someone often produces a bit of anxiety. Here are five things to keep in mind when you have to have a difficult conversation.
Pray. Prayer reduced anxiety (see Philippians 4:6). When you know that you are going to have to have a hard conversation pray prior to having the conversation. Pray that the words of your mouth and the mediation of your heart will be pleasing to God. Pray that the other person will receive what you have to say with open ears and a receptive heart. It may be necessary that you pray even while you are having the conversation.
Practice. Rehearse what you plan to say the way in which you should say it. Own your feelings and opinions by using “I” statements. For example, instead of saying, “You need to stop yelling.” Try “I would appreciate it if not raise your voice when you are talking to me. It seems like you are yelling.” How you say what you say is just as important as the words you say. It is often helpful to write out what you will say and read over it to see how it sounds.
Be Present. It is important to be on top of your gain when having difficult conversations. Try to schedule a time to speak with a person. Pick a time when you are not rushed, sleepy or hungry. Make sure you get an understanding of what a person means by what he or she says prior to responding.
Reflect. After the conversation, review how you did. Were things resolved? Was there something that you said that could have been said differently? Do you need to apologize for anything that was said or done during the conversation?
Resolve. Once the conversation is over, decide that you are going to keep your conversation confidential. If there wasn’t effective resolution, only involve those people who can help the situation. Avoid replaying the hurt over and over in your mind. It is difficult to heal when you continue to reopen the wounds.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.