To this point, we’ve looked at several questions we should really be asking ourselves as we prepare for some of the toughest conversations we need to have with the folks closest to us; Have I invested enough in the relationship to address the issue candidly? Am I showing that I value this relationship? Is this really their issue and not mine? Do I feel threatened by addressing this issue? Is this issue more important than the relationship itself? And whose interests are being served by having the tough conversation, ours, theirs, or everyone involved?
If we’ve done each of those things, we should have a solid foundation for working through a difficult conversation in a way that shows we genuinely care while maintaining enough candor to ensure the issue is clearly understood. But the talkin’ is the easy part! The real work starts now… Getting a concern, especially one that has potential to alienate a relationship, out in the open is hard enough on its own. Without being willing to support the changes that are needed, I’m not convinced we’ll ever achieve results that truly benefit both parties involved.
I remember teaching our son to play catch when he was young. I suppose “teaching” wasn’t exactly what happened. If I’m being honest, it was more me barking at him about what he needed to stop doing rather than what he should be doing… In all fairness, I resigned myself to the fact that my only real skill tied to the game of baseball is ringing a cowbell, so I didn’t really have much of a base of knowledge to share from. Regardless, I wasn’t providing him with anything he needed to have a reasonable hope of changing what he was doing.
While that wasn’t necessarily one of the most sensitive topics that could ever be addressed with a friend or family member, what I’ll challenge you to consider is how I could ever expect him to change what he was doing when he had no idea how to do it any other way. Without being shown how to catch the ball properly and getting some ongoing guidance as he attempted to learn a new approach, change was highly unlikely – whether it was me showing him myself or having someone do that on my behalf.
Now let’s move from the simplicity of playing catch to the significance of having one of those tough conversations with a family member or friend, dealing with a scenario that could potentially wreck the relationship. Getting it out in the open must happen, and considering each of the questions we’ve worked through over the last several months will help us be much more prepared to do it effectively, but we cannot stop there if we really value the relationship. We need to be willing (and prepared) to invest our time and energy into supporting them through the change.
I’ve often heard that in boxing, the most important part of a punch is the follow through. The same holds true here. Generally, we all do the best we know how in any given scenario, and we exhibit this through our routine behaviors, or habits. And I’ve never seen someone be able to change a habit right away simply by being told to do something different. That’s where the real investment starts so that’s what we’ll dig into next time; what we can do to help initiate change…