Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Ephesians 4:15
I want you to think back to the last difficult conversation you had to have with someone. This would have been a conversation in which you had to present constructive criticism, discuss your feelings to a slight, or correct poor behavior. What were the things you wrestled with prior to that conversation?
Ephesians 4:14 gives us a glimpse into the things we may feel and say about these types of “talks.” We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like truth. We tell ourselves others will become angry, that what they did is no big deal, and we may even allow these thoughts to keep us from having that crucial conversation. Because of fear. Because of doubt. Because the devil does not want that other person to hear the truth. No one moves forward in making amends, better choices, or down the path God intended.
We are often scared of the truth. Scared it will offend. Hurt. Make others not like us. Accept us.
But we have an obligation to speak it. In love, of course.
In my role as a mental health provider I am often tasked with having to discuss difficult behaviors with families and clients. Though there are some times God will come up in these conversations, for the most part, my faith cannot be a part of this conversation due to the place in which I am fulfilling this role. Speaking the truth in love does not stop here, though.
Enter the “sandwich method.” This method is not something I created. It is something I picked up listening to others who had to give news about correction over the years; especially to those used to hearing tough news often spoken harshly. It involves beginning the conversation with what is going well. The middle of the conversation consists of the “meat,” the purpose of meeting-the behavior needing adjustment. You then end the conversation with additional thoughts on what is going well, what you are looking forward to, and positive qualities that make behavior change possible.
The “filler” conversation is always difficult. However, it is easier to have if it begins with pleasant words, filled with care, compassion, and love. The person receiving the news sees you as someone who doesn’t simply want to tell them all the wrong they are doing, Who doesn’t see them as a “problem” to be solved, but someone with good qualities, capable of making change; and you are now on their team.
Because you pushed back your fear and insecurities, and spoke truth into their life with love.
Difficult conversations will not cease to be difficult by choosing to avoid them, or by avoiding the hard stuff that needs to be said; but they can be easier when seasoned with grace and the compassion of Christ. And always, always-spoken with love.