When (and How) to Have Difficult Conversations

Difficult conversations can actually help people feel encouraged and, in many cases, can motivate people to get back into the game.

When (and How) To Have Difficult Conversations

Remember that communication is the catalyst for positive change

Change management is a hot topic today and much of the subject begins with correction communication and the willingness to care about those who work alongside you. As situations arise and the work changes, people will change with you when they know that you care deeply for them and their future.

Stop for a moment and ask yourself if there is something or someone that you have placed on sidelines hoping the problem or the individual will go away? It’s probably not going to happen and even if it did, you and the person involved would miss a tremendous opportunity to grow through the experience.

When you love people, and most pastors who are called into the ministry do, you will have a shepherd’s heart. This means you want to shepherd and guide individuals so they can grow and reach their maximum potential.

Courageous conversations can be used as catalysts for positive change. Never allow a dysfunctional situation to eat up more of your time than is necessary. Today pastors and Christian leaders face a number of pressing obligations and problematic situations. Now more than ever before, we need to be communicators of God’s Word on every level—from the pulpit to our staff offices.

Are there ways for us to know when the right time is to have that difficult or challenging conversation with a staff member? The answer is yes!

It’s time to have a courageous conversation when the situation is damaging your relationship with another person.

God wants us to have balance in our work environments. Peace at all cost is not true peace. Letting a problem fester until if becomes a large issue causes much more harm than good. Seize the moment, address the problem correctly, and then move on to new challenges.

A courageous conversation is necessary when the person’s behavior is impacting much of your staff or team.

There are people who are desperate for the attention of more than just the leader. They are people who play the game: some attention is better than no attention! It seems that they will do almost anything to upset the group so they can be at the center of discussion and attention. Say “No” to time stealers and opt out of destructive behavior by being courageous communicators.

When you have either hurt or offended somebody.

Be sensitive to the fact that many times the problem can lie with the leader. You may have spoken unclearly and your office staff or a staff member may not be sure what is best to do next. From your vantage point, they seem to be floundering. But from theirs, you are not leading and giving clear guidance on major and minor matters. Also ask God to help you discern if you have spoken harshly to a co-worker.

Be willing to own your brash actions or missteps and address the issue by admitting it and asking the person to forgive you. Leaders who know how to admit their mistakes do not appear weak. Instead, they appear strong, flexible and sensitive. You can say, “That was not right,” and still lead with a sense of surety and strength.

Jesus was the ultimate communicator. He knew how to address a problem in a way that drew people to truth and dealt with issues in a way that helped His followers feel secure in their roles as they learned how to communicate well with others. Every Christian leader has an unbelievable opportunity to lead others into a growing relationship through work and worship.

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Christine Yount Jones is Content Director for Outreach Media Group. She has published several books and hundreds of articles about ministry in the last three decades. Before his death in 2003, Michael Yount and Christine had three children. Now, she and her husband, Ray Jones, together have five grown kids.