I’m awed by some of the amazing friends that God has provided throughout the years. But one thing I’ve noticed is that when it comes to developing thriving, long-lasting friendships, sooner or later we have to engage in The Difficult Conversation. We may need to say something or raise an issue in order to bring out the best in the other person or to make the relationship more enjoyable and healthy.
A while back a friend had to have a difficult conversation with me. We spent time together regularly taking walks, sharing meals, and enjoying each others’ company. One day announced she had something that she needed to talk about. We began by affirming our friendship and the importance of the relationship in her life. Then she shared that she had an unhealthy pattern in our friendship. While I asked lots of questions of her and she shared freely, I seemed too reserved and unwilling to share from my own life. She said she wanted me to know so the relationship could grow stronger.
In the moment, the words felt like a bee sting.
“Thank you for telling me,” I said, a bit off-balance from her words. My mind raced through our conversations during the last few times we’d hung out together. She was right! I hadn’t been sharing freely or openly, but as I thought about the reason why I had to make a confession to her.
“One of the reasons I don’t share from my own life is that you never ask anything about me-even how I’m doing,” I said.
We both sat in a thick silence as we realized the unhealthy pattern in our relationship.
“I’ll start being more intentional about asking you questions,” she said.
“And I promise to take the initiative and share even when you’re not asking a question,” I said.
From that day our relationship grew stronger than it had ever been before, and I’m so grateful she took the initiative to have the difficult conversation.
Who have you been putting off having The Difficult Conversation with lately? How is it impacting your relationship?
What advice do you have for someone who is about to sit down and have The Difficult Conversation?
*Photo courtesy of here (© Jochen van Eden)