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7 Necessary Steps When You Need to Have a Difficult Conversation

7 Necessary Steps When You Need to Have a Difficult Conversation

I once tweeted, “The hardest conversation is often the most needed.”

It was as a result of my counsel to another pastor in a leadership setting. He knew he needed to approach an issue, but he wasn’t sure how to do so. I understand. If it were easy we wouldn’t struggle to do it.

I find myself encouraging those type of conversations often. Apparently, from the retweets and direct messages I received, it’s a frequent issue. In relationships, there are consistent needs to have difficult conversations. Often leaders, spouses and friends avoid them, but it’s often to the detriment of the relationship.

I decided to expand beyond Twitter-length encouragement.

Do you need to have a difficult conversation?

Here are seven necessary steps you’ll need to take:


There first needs to be some sense of urgency toward having the conversation. People who have frequent hard conversations just to have hard conversations are obnoxious at best. Hard conversations, where you challenge someone, confront a situation or address sensitive issues, should be rare—not normal. Make sure you know it’s something you must do in order to improve the situation or protect the relationship.


You should pray as a part of the conviction process also. And, you should pray after you know you are moving forward. Pray for God’s favor on the conversation, open hearts for you and the other party, and God’s resolution to be realized. And, enter the conversation in a spirit of prayer.


Jot down your main points you are trying to make. You might read THIS POST. It’s about how to write a sensitive letter, but the points in it will help you prepare for a face-to-face conversation also. (And, there are times a letter is best.) You want to be prepared. You want to remember your thoughts clearly and not from emotion. The main issues (as you can read in the post) are to be factual, to the point, but kind, truthful and helpful. Be willing to assume blame where needed.

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Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.