One of the things I dislike more than public speaking is difficult conversations.

According to Google, difficult conversation is any situation where the needs/wants, opinions or perceptions of the involved parties are diverse, with their feelings and emotions running strong. Usually the reason behind such strong feelings and emotions is that they have a lot at stake and they dread the consequences such as a conflict.”

As much as I try to shun it, it is unavoidable as it occurs in all areas of our lives.

Some difficult topics include:

  • Delivering a poor performance review
  • Giving your boss feedback
  • Asking your boss for a raise
  • Confronting a sibling
  • Breaking up with a romantic partner

A successful confrontation will always involve grace and truth.

“Grace is your being the side of, or “for”, the other person as well as the relationship. Truth is the reality of whatever you need to say about the problem.”

People need both grace and truth in relationships with God and with each other. Think about a time when someone told you the truth without love. You probably felt attacked and condemned. No matter how accurate or honest the truth is. You would still feel hurt.

Now think of another time, you received grace without any truth. Grace comforts us and keep us safe and loved but it does not provide structure or direction. You may come out from the encounter feeling encouraged but not sure what to do next.
Truth neutralizes the problem.

A few things to keep in mind when having the difficult conversation.

  • Lead with Grace

Could start by being empathetic as it sets the stage for the other person to be able to tolerate the truth.

  • Keep Both Grace and Truth Present

Example one could say, “While I want us to be close again, this problem is getting in the way, and I need to resolve it between us. I can’t dance around it or ignore it. But it’s hard, because I don’t want this talk to distance us even more.”

When you are confronting, sprinkle in your care. When you are caring, sprinkle in the truth.

  • When in Doubt, Go for Grace

At any point of the conversation, if you feel its going south. Lean toward grace. With grace alone, you stand a chance of picking it up from where you left off the next time. With truth alone, things might fall apart completely.

“Love and faithfulness meet together; Righteousness and peace kiss each other.” Psalm 85:10

God has given us relationships with one another, there is no way to avoid difficult conversations. But most of us learn how to balance between truth and grace.

By Kelly Gabrielle Loh