Often there are differences of opinion that warrant some further discussion. For trivial matters, we can agree to disagree, but for those that involve more serious stakes (and our emotions) it is critical to talk openly. The awkwardness of such conversations, however, means they are all too often avoided. Here are a few suggestions to addressing them more openly for our own wellbeing, so that wounds don’t fester.
1. Be honest – resolve firstly to acknowledge that if there are emotions, right discussions are needed, ones involving the right people and not involving gossip or venting elsewhere. Honesty also requires a healthy resolve to be appropriately (but not just selectively) transparent.
2. Bite the bullet – there needs to be some deliberate resistance to avoidance and a determination to address matters quickly, no matter how hard, as long as this is done in the right way. Otherwise, matters only get worse. An independent third party may then be needed soon after (Matthew 18:15-16).
3. Think ‘relationship’ – valuing the people concerned and considering how they will process the discussion is not fail-safe, but it does helps to motivate you constructively. Speak the truth ‘in love’ (Ephesians 4:15).
4. I/We – Own your feelings and don’t blame others for them. State your own perspectives without accusation (maybe without using ‘you’). Then, discuss the options that ‘we’ can address together. The goal is understanding, not agreement.
5. See the best in others – seeing a person in the best light can guard you from being needlessly drawn on speculation which will fuel negative emotions.