Summary: Hard conversations happen in ministry. Sometimes the hardest part is the timing. Try these five phrases to lead well in hard conversations.
Hard conversations happen in ministry. There are two parts of hard conversations: First — content, and second — timing. Often it is not just that hard conversations are hard because of the content of that conversation. Yet, sometimes these hard conversations are hard because of the timing of that hard conversation. For me, the worst time to have a hard conversation was on a Sunday morning or a Wednesday night.
Let’s imagine someone approaches you on a Sunday morning, with scores of people standing or walking nearby. Today, I want to give you 5 phrases to put a hot and angry conversation on ice and cool things off in the moment.
Here are the 5 phrases in rapid fire: Phrase #1 - “That’s Interesting,” Phrase #2 - “Tell me more,” Phrase #3 - “You have given me a lot to think about,” Phrase #4 - “Let me take this back to the team,” Phrase #5, “Do you feel heard right now?”
I have used these 5 phrases to help mellow potentially volatile conversation. Phrase #1 “That’s interesting” This phrase alone is critical. You are not saying they are WRONG or RIGHT. You are affirming them without committing to any conclusions. Phrase #2 - “Tell me more.” Rather than manically talking and possibly digging yourself into a defensive hole, you are taking the role of an active listener. Phrase #3 - “You have given me a lot to think about.” I like this phrase because it not only validates their thoughts, it telegraphs that you may not be able to provide an INSTANTANEOUS answer. This leads to phrase #4, “Let me take this back to the team.” You can defer this possibly heated conversation so you can collect your thoughts and gain counsel from your team. Remember, not every situation demands an instantaneous answer. Phrase #5, “Do you feel heard right now?” Personally, I think this is one of the most important things you can say to someone who might be angry or upset.
I encourage you to consider incorporating these phrases into your leadership language.