Confrontation is challenging. It’s even more challenging when it’s with someone whose relationship you highly value. When the time comes to raise a difficult subject, use these six questions to prepare:
1. What is the ultimate goal of bringing up the problem?
What do you want to achieve? Be better understood? Curtail a certain behavior? Improve communication? These are valid reasons. But pointing out a problem without reasonable solution will likely just end with hurt feelings and resentment.
2. What are the potential repercussions of bringing up this problem?
Could bringing up this problem sever the relationship? Could it sever other relationships as well? Are you OK with that happening?
3. Have I logically thought through my reasoning?
When a problem arises, don’t dig into it until you have the chance cool off and evaluate from a less emotional perspective.
What are the most important points to bring up? Are they logical? Do they honor God?
4. Have I thoroughly thought out the rebuttal?
Play devil’s advocate with yourself before addressing the problem out loud. What will the opposing reasons be? Do you agree with any of them? If so, let the person know. It shows humility that you’re actually striving to reach an agreement—not just clinging to your argument (and your pride).
5. What will the setting be when this problem is brought up?
The first priority is to have this problem addressed through voice communication. Dialogue with the other person. In-person conversation is by far the best, but if that isn’t possible, phone or Skype are the only other allowable options. Texting? No. Emailing? No. Too much is lost in translation.
The second priority is to make sure the setting is place where there will be minimal distractions and interruptions. This will not only allow the conversation to flow better, but it will also help keep emotions in check.
6. What kind of tone will I maintain—is it loving?
Remember: “Words that soak into one’s ears are whispered, not yelled.”
When disagreements arise, it’s easy to let tempers flare. Make a pact with yourself that you will not raise your voice, and that you won’t take on sarcastic or undermining tones. Addressing a problem from a platform of love, grace, and empathy will be your most successful approach.
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