Sometimes we don’t have much warning when we’re heading into a confrontation or difficult conversation.  But in other cases, we have a pretty good idea on the front end that things might get challenging.

As the Apostle Paul wrote, “I always want to give a good report about you.” In that spirit, let me share some guidance for those times when you know you’re heading into a confrontation.

  • First, start with your perception: “I’ve observed these things…. which leads me to this conclusion.”
  • Then ask for input: “Help me understand what’s going on.” Don’t assume you already know everything.
  • As you listen, periodically summarize what you are hearing them saying and ask if that’s accurate.
  • Then– only after listening– ask, “Can I share my perspective with you?”
  • With permission, share your perspective, then ask, “What are you hearing me say?”

The goal of this process is mutual understanding.  Ideally, mutual agreement, but sometimes mutual understanding is as close as we can come.

And of course, in those cases where this manner of confrontation is ineffective, you can then go to the principles of Matthew 18. But start here and see how far you can go toward making a confrontation into a redemptive experience.