I have been the victim of "Foot in Mouth" disease more times than I can count! Most of my life I have spoken off the cuff never taking the time to think before speaking. Well, if I didn't stop to listen carefully or think, you know I definitely didn't stop to pray! Honestly, I used to think that being frank and speaking my mind was a positive attribute, but I've learned that it truly isn't an attractive quality at all! There is such value in choosing to think before you speak.
Think before you speak.
Sure there is a time to speak up and stand boldly about an issue, but that should be done after listening carefully, praying, seeking God's direction, and taking the time to think things through. You also always need to make sure that your intentions for speaking out are pure and never led by anger. God's word tells us to be "quick to listen and slow to speak." That tells me that He expects us to spend more time listening than speaking. If we TRULY listen and process things, then God can lead us when to speak and prepare the heart of the listener.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. ~James 1:19
Listening or waiting to talk?
I learned several years back about a very bad habit I used to have. I still have to fight the urge of that habit today, I still mess up occasionally and have to seek forgiveness. You see, when people were talking to me, I heard what they said with my ears, but I wasn't truly listening; I was busy thinking about what I wanted to say next and even interrupting the other person at times. I know, I know...how rude! I am a talker by human nature, but God is molding me to become a thinker and a listener.
Keys to prepare for a difficult conversation
Cool Off. Avoid conversations when you are angry or upset. If you need to, respectfully tell the other person that you need time to cool off before talking. Angry conversations are counter productive.
Pray, Pray, Pray. When you know that you are going into a particularly difficult conversation, pray and ask God to direct you. I always ask God to help me speak only His words ........ no more, no less! I also ask Him to prepare the other person's heart to hear the message and receive it.
Be Respectful. Making sure that you intentionally speak in a way you can later be proud of will prevent you from being thrown off course even if the other person becomes hostile. Inviting the Holy Spirit to guide your words and body language will help you in this category because He is the Author of respect.
Less is More. At first those words don't really make sense, but when you stop to think about it ..... it's especially true with words. Sometimes we over complicate things by trying to say too much. This makes the real message get lost in "all the words." If you stick to the subject, the listener is more likely to receive the real message.
Do NOT React to Ploys. When addressing a difficult topic, the other person may react in a variety of ways. Possible ploys may be lying, threatening, stonewalling, crying, sarcasm, shouting, silence, accusing, or taking offense. If this happens, remember to stay calm. Do not allow their reaction to steer you off course!
Keep your eye on the prize. Keep sight of your goal throughout the conversation. Obviously, you do not intend for a conversation to go in the wrong direction. So, if you keep the expected, positive outcome in mind, things will likely stay on course.
Truly LISTEN. Be careful to listen, not just hear, what the other person is saying. If you are unsure of what they are really saying, seek clarification. Be sure that you understand how the other person feels and that you are considerate of their feelings. Do not become the victim of a one-sided, selfish conversation.
Seek Help if Needed. Some conversations are too difficult and emotional to have alone. If a mediator is needed, reach out for help. Your local churches are a great place to look for Godly unbiased counsel.
The Good News
We have all spoken out of turn, said things without thinking, and have regrets about how we've handled situations. The good news, is that we can pray, seek forgiveness, correct our mistakes, and move forward with a lesson learned.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. ~2 Timothy 3:16
Sherry and Beverly have spoken at events throughout the southeast, including our own annual Intentionally & Wonderfully Made women’s event, and we’d love to come speak at YOUR women’s event! We share on topics such as insecurity, sexual intimacy, lies women believe, comparison, discontentment, people pleasing, 10 questions to ask your husband, and more. Don’t miss the next speaking engagement!
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