There’s nothing that strikes more fear into most than knowing you have to have a difficult conversation with someone. For teachers these conversations are unavoidable, whether it be with a student, parent or another staff member. Most people seem to struggle to step into these situations with any degree of confidence, least of all with the hope of resolution and a positive outcome. So how can we have difficult conversations that are mutually edifying and resolve any tensions or difficulty?
After reading a couple of online articles on this very topic I was forced to reconsider how important the tough conversations are. They’re not just helpful for ensuring the smooth running of a class or for leading a group well, they are an exceptionally important tool to help strengthen our character and faith.
In an article titled The 3 A’s of leading difficult conversations, Marlene Chism describes/outlines three types of behaviour that leaders display when it comes to having the difficult conversation. She describes leaders as being either:
1. The Avoider or
2. The Aggressor or
3. The Accomplished.
The ‘virtuous leader’ is the one who seeks to be ‘The Accomplished’ - the person who aims to find a solution for the good of the other person, while ‘The Avoider’ wants to keep the peace at all costs and ‘The Aggressor’ wants to unhelpfully exert their own power and authority, and impose a solution.
In another article, author Dan Reiland says that these hard conversations are ‘the defining moments that shape the trajectory of your leadership’. Seeing tough conversations as an opportunity for personal growth, character building and godliness is a powerful reframe. Reiland offers three suggestions to help people redefine how they approach these conversations:
1. Learn the power of one sentence
2. Understand the secret behind the moment, and
3. Measure your outcome by inner peace, not outer perfection.
Rather than dread these conversations we are challenged to embrace them as an opportunity to speak the truth in love and as an exercise in dependence on God, so that we seek positive outcomes that build-up other people and help them flourish.
Read the full articles here:
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of EdComm or the Anglican Diocese of Sydney. The intent is to promote thinking and discussion.