Wednesday

Critical conversations...

A few days ago I had a conversation with someone I love about critical conversations.  Since then I have really been dwelling on the topic... so here it is: {my dwellings...}

Probably 6-8 years ago those two words might as well be in the 'four-letter-words-we-don't-say category'.  I disliked having to have difficult conversations to my absolute core. Negative interactions/conversations were usually accompanied by fear of no more positive interactions/conversations with whomever.  I was a people pleaser from my head to my toes.  I wanted nothing more than to be accepted, acceptable, desired by others.  Even writing those sentences now give me chills.  To know how misplaced my desires were... that I so desired to be acceptable to others rather than Christ alone.

Today... I would suggest when they are done well {with grace, speaking truth and accompanied by love}, they are one of the best signs of true community. When done well they encourage a vulnerability that is uncomfortable and yet so rewarding.  When done well it is a maturing experience for all parties involved.

Raylene, do you believe that they all end with closer friendships? 

That is a great question, Internet.  No. We don't live in an ideal world. But I do believe that when done well {even when the result is relational separation from the other parties} that The Lord will give us peace about the outcome. 

I know you're dying to know.. So what does it look like when a critical conversation is done well? 

I'm SO glad you asked.

1. Saturate the situation in prayer.  Begging God to guide your heart, and mind to approach the situation in a way that honors Him, and to ensure the issue is not within your own heart.

1. Evaluate yourself - is the issue you're frustrated by/concerned with really something we need to deal with internally?  Or is it truly something that needs to be discussed with the other(s) involved?  Usually if you're still thinking about it a few days later... it is necessary to discuss.  Ask yourself.... what is at the root of what is bothering you?

3. Consider the others involved.  As you look at the situation that needs to be addressed, be sure to put yourself in their shoes.  Be sensitive to how you approach the conversation - being gracious and yet truthful. This is a fine line of not sugar coating the issue, but also not being completely insensitive.

4. Be mindful that others don't read minds.  So stop with the 'they should know why I'm upset with them' passivity.  They won't know what is bottled up inside your heart unless you share.  Isn't community about opening up and sharing our hearts with one another? {the answer is yes, Internet}

5. Be gracious, speak the truth in love.  This is so important - ask the Lord to guide your conversation and to allow you to speak truth in love.  That means: being very truthful and forthcoming about the concerns and sharing those concerns in a loving way.  Not approaching the other(s) in a mean spirited manner, but with love (note: 'with love' does NOT mean sugar coat the issue or beat around the bush where it becomes a super passive approach). Showing them that you genuinely love them.  Showing them that your aim for the conversation is not to  create a barrier between you but to work through your concerns and in the end grow closer.

6. Once you're done sharing your concern/frustration... it is a good idea to ask if there are any pain points in their mind regarding you.  I know, that can be a hard thing to ask for.... yet so rewarding to see this line of communication opening up.

7. Come to a resolution.  Whether it is 'I don't like the way you eat your food'...{I really hope not} or whatever - be sure to come up with a solution to the issue at hand.  It is important to not leave the conversation with no resolution or solution.  Might be helpful to ask and answer the question 'So what?'.... basically - 'what now?'.

7. End with prayer.  Pray for this new line of communication.... that it would be used wisely and that your hearts would be tender to one another's concerns moving forward.



Be encouraged, friends.  Once you open this once despised door of communication - it gets easier and easier to have these critical conversations when necessary.

It is important to realize how much vulnerability it takes to have these critical conversations.  Yet it is equally important to know how rich friendships are when these conversations are had when necessary and handled with grace and love.

I know someone values their friendship with me when they are willing to have critical conversations with me when they are needed.  There is a bond that is strengthened when these conversations can be had and received well.

There is truly so much that can be said about critical conversations - I've only begun to scratch the surface.  What are some pieces of wisdom that you have learned through the years regarding critical conversations?  Please share....




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