TIPS for TOUGH Conversations.
Even as a Christian, having tough conversations is not an easy feat, but with God we are more than capable of having them and handling them. I know we are all just trying to make it through this thing called life. So, I decided to share some tips that have helped me on my journey in having tough conversations.
Pray before, during, and after any difficult conversation. Why? Because we need the strength and wisdom of the Lord to help us. Without the guidance of God and His Spirit, every tough conversation we have will be led by the flesh, which will always end in disaster, destruction, and division.
“Pray without ceasing;”-1 Thessalonians 5:17
2. Check your motive
Motive is key! We must be honest with ourselves. If our motive behind the conversation comes from a place of selfishness and evilness we need to check our heart. Tough conversations are not about winning an argument or being right, but about seeking peace, demonstrating love, & honoring God.
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”-Rom 12:9
3. Be an active listener
This means listening with your heart and not just with your ears. It means humbling yourself and not listening with defensive ears but with compassionate ears. It means using wisdom & discernment in processing the conversation before responding. Seek to REALLY understand. Also, accept that differences in perspectives will happen. Someone not seeing or agreeing with your perspective does not make them bad or good, it makes them human. God is the ultimate judge. Our job is to love people where they are, and let God be God.
“Put on therefore, as God’s elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering;”-Col 3:12
4. Take responsibility for yourself
Realize YOU are responsible for YOUR behavior, YOUR response, and YOUR actions before, during, and after the conversation. YOU ARE NOT responsible for the other person’s response. Even if that person reacts and responds in a way that you do not agree with or you deem as unfavorable. You are not responsible. Focus on how you can respond in a way that honors God, the other individual, and yourself.
“So then each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”-Romans 14:12
5. Honor your emotions
Be honest about how you feel. Tough conversations are just that, TOUGH. If you are feeling sad, frustrated, angry, or overwhelmed, be honest about how you feel. HOWEVER, still with the emotion that you are feeling allow the love of God to rule your heart and actions moving forward. Not just your feelings alone. Trust that God knows best, not your feelings.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not onto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”-Prov 3:5-6
6. Let LOVE RULE.
LOVE is LONGSUFFERING. That means in the midst of difficult conversations you must be compassionately long suffering, patient, kind, and seek the ultimate good for the other. That does not mean ignore healthy or spiritual boundaries, it means do not withdraw your love just because the conversation did not go how you wanted or expected. Love pursues even when it’s not being reciprocated and even when it’s hard.
“Love suffers long and is kind.”- 1 Cor 13:4
7. Be courageous
Do not allow fear to be the driving force behind any tough conversation. Some seasons will require you to speak up, other seasons will require you to tame your tongue. But not matter the season, situation, or conversation, do not let fear lead you or stop you. Let courageous love compel you.
“For God gave us not a spirit of fear; but of power and love and discipline.”-2 Tim 1:7
You, I, or anyone else is never above an “I am sorry,” “Please forgive me.” or “Thank you for bringing that to my attention.” “I was not aware that my behavior was doing xyz..I will seek to grow in doing better.” Or “I know this conversation was tough but I still love you.” None of us are perfect. We all are growing and healing. For that reason, we should be quick to apologize and quick to forgive .
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.””-James 4:6
9. Use godly wisdom and discernment
It is important to meet people where they are. Meaning, do not enter a conversation ignoring the reality of where the other person may be spiritually, emotionally, cognitively, & mentally. A wise man, is able to discern when he is speaking with someone who is foolish verses wise. A godly man is also able to discern, observe, and to converse tactfully and with integrity. A godly man seeks the better good of the other individual, even if the other individual in the conversation is not seeking that same good or does not possess the capacity in their current state to be a participant in that good. Apart of loving others is using wisdom in how we engage with them, speak to them, and relate with them. Adjusting expectations with the wisdom and discernment of God is so helpful when having tough conversations. It will lead to less quarrels, and more grace, compassion, long suffering, and patience.
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”-Matthew 7:6
10. Rely on the strength of the Lord
A lot of times we are operating out of our own strength. We cannot love or have tough conversations properly, without the help of the Lord. We literally CANNOT DO IT! God is the one who has the power and gives us the grace and strength to do it. We need to seek deep dependency on God, even in the midst of tough conversations. He will help us and He will guide us. We just have to believe! God is faithful.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”-1 John 5:14-15