Home Pastors How To Have an Honest Conversation (That Might Be Uncomfortable)

How To Have an Honest Conversation (That Might Be Uncomfortable)

honest conversation

Honesty, candor and being frank, all easy in a Christian environment, right? Not always.

Why are we tempted to hold back? Here are some common examples:

  • Unclear expectations
  • Fear of being embarrassed, rejected, or hurt
  • Uncertain levels of trust
  • Valuing harmony over progress
  • Uncertain of our own thoughts and opinions
  • Lack of confidence
  • Don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings
  • Insecurity
  • The conversation is complex and subjective in nature
  • The nature of confidentiality

And you could add more examples to the list. Honesty is not always easy, but it’s desperately needed.

The church lives by a great code of biblical principles and values, of which honesty is central. But our humanity allows us to hold back, protect, hide, and not say what we’re thinking when it’s better for everyone involved to be honest.

Think about the many kinds of conversations where we desperately need honesty, here are just a few:

  • Relational conflict
  • Conversations in matters of sin and salvation
  • Counseling
  • Staffing reviews and coaching conversations
  • Salary adjustments
  • Church board meetings
  • What would you add to this list?

Speaking the truth will often cost you something, but it will cost you more if you don’t.

People want the truth, even when it’s difficult to hear. Over time, those you love and lead will trust you more if they know they can count on your honesty, even if it hurts in the moment.

5 Guidelines To a Potentially Difficult but Honest Conversation

1. Intentional Self-Honesty

It’s difficult to engage in a meaningful, transparent and honest conversation if you are not first honest with yourself.

For an honest conversation, you must first trust yourself in three ways. 1. Trust that you know yourself, (you are self-aware) 2. Trust that you understand your motives, (the why) and 3. Trust that you know your desired outcome.

Obviously, all that is not needed for a casual hallway chat or hanging out at a ballgame. But deeper, more meaningful conversations do not happen by accident, they require intentionality.

Being self-aware, (knowing ourselves), helps us relate to the person we’re talking with in an appropriate manner. This also helps us cultivate a non-anxious presence, which is essential to an honest conversation because it allows us to think more clearly.

If we engage in a conversation where we are uptight, nervous, or insecure, the natural response is to hold back and self-protect until we perceive the conversation to be safe.