3 Things to Ask Yourself When Having a Hard Conversation
I, for the most part, absolutely hate conflict. I usually don’t go looking for it, and if I’m caught in it, I usually resolve the conflict by starting a new conversation. If you aren’t like me, you are probably more of an instigator. You LOVE conflict. In fact, your brain is so used to it that it subconsciously is on the prowl for conflict and you don’t even think anything realize it.
Now, those are just brief overviews of the two extremes and I know there is more to it, but we don’t need to go much more than I did for right now. The dilemma here is that both of those extremes can be extremely dangerous. They both, in their own ways, are extremely offensive and arrogant. Can they be good? Yes, but they won’t always be good.
Something I want to do is acknowledge that having a hard and conflicting conversation is something that needs to happen sometimes. Now if you don’t mind conflict, don’t think that you are off the hook! There is a proper and appropriate way to address conflict, and failing to do so will cause even more damage. I’m no expert, but here are just three questions that I ask myself when regarding conflict and whether or not my heart is in the right place to initiate a hard conversation.
1.) Are my aims to honor God?
It’s often easy to go about conflict with your primary motivation being to prove a point. The funny part is that you might even be right and have a legitimate claim, but that doesn’t make it honoring. In each instance, you have to check your heart. Are you having the conversation to honor God or are you hoarding His glory to highlight yourself? Now that’s a tough conclusion to come to and it’s hard to be honest, but I think lots of times I am more motivated by proving myself through a point than honoring God by having a conversation. Don’t justify it by saying the conversation needs to be had; it may need to be had, but it shouldn’t be initiated until your heart is in a state of honoring God through your approach of conflict.
2.) Will it be helpful?
This is another question that’s easy to breeze by. It’s easy to look at all that is wrong and say that the conversation needs to be had. Don’t get me wrong, you may be right and the conversation may need to be had. But sometimes initiating a hard conversation produces more hurt than help. As awful as it may be to admit, we say, respond, and act in ways to the people around us that are extremely hurtful. Maybe not physically, but people are definitely offensive mentally, emotionally, and spiritually by how we interact with them at times. We don’t take into account HOW we are talking, we just look at the content of our claims and think that since they are right, we can say them as we please. Not true! Your body language matters, your tone of voice matters, whether or not you have been praying for this person matters. Does hurt happen? Yes, of course it does! You can’t always avoid it. The person you’re talking to might take it the wrong way and won’t trust that you’re trying to help in talking with them. You can’t control that, but what you can control is making for certain that your desire in having that hard and conflicting conversation is to help, not to hurt.
3.) Where is the hurdle?
Every single hard conversation has a hurdle that is in the way. The hurdle is the reason behind why the other person or persons claims. So you have to find it. Just as you have reasons for doing the things that you do, the person you are looking into having a hard conversations has reasons also. Ask yourself ahead of time where you feel the opposition. Be prepared! Because if you go into your conversation with just what you think, not giving time to ask yourself what the other person might think, there won’t be any resolution to your conflict. Know the opposition that is coming your way, and be able to answer it in a clear and reflective way. People don’t change by you telling them to, they change by you showing them how. So find that hurdle, and have a plan!
Now, some conflicts just simply won’t end in your favor. You can ask all three questions, be well prepared, full of love and compassion, and the other person still might not change. And you know what? That’s okay! You aren’t called to change people, you are called to obey Jesus! Let God be God. Don’t be disappointed.
Aggressive conflict seekers: Chill out and check your heart! Don’t say anything that is not out of sincere and genuine love.
Passive hideaways: Don’t think that staying quiet is always being obedient. Don’t think that “actions speaks louder than words” means that you don’t ever need to step up and say something tough.
Sometimes conflict needs to be embraced, but it shouldn’t be entered ignorantly. Sometimes conflict needs to be avoided, but it shouldn’t be resisted stubbornly. May we have the wisdom and honesty with ourselves so we may choose rightly.