Do you remember this post about the book “Crucial Conversations“? I finished it a while back and the book has been highlighted and marked up from beginning to end. I seriously encourage you to pick up a copy and read it. If you can’t afford the book, just ask and I’ll loan you a copy.
Here is just one priceless thought from page 55: “When it’s safe, you can say anything.” In other words, the conditions of the conversation matter more than the content. Unfortunately, I usually spend more time thinking about what I am saying (the content) rather than how I am saying it (the conditions). I should instead be focusing on making it safe for the other person to open their heart to me.
This was demonstrated several years ago by our youngest son. During a season of high conflict (when nothing seemed to go right in our conversations), he came home and invited my wife and I to a crucial conversation. He began with “I just had a powerful moment with God…and my heart is open for us to talk about anything you want. Now is the time to ask me the hard questions…because this will probably fade by tomorrow.”
And we did. We talked throughout the night until each of us hit the point of total exhaustion. But we talked honestly and candidly about every explosive topic under the sun. I have never been more proud of him than that moment. He was true to his word and we (hopefully) honored it by similarly opening our hearts to him.
On that day, the content of the conversation did not vary from the thousands that we had before. The difference was safety. We could talk about the toxic issues because no one became defensive. We listened closely and shared from the heart. We connected at a deep, soul-to-soul level that is rarely replicated.
That night was a gift from God. Yes, it did fade the next day…but it did not disappear. My son may not have created that moment on his own initiative. But he has the capability to reproduce it…..and so do I. For that matter, you have that same capability. We can all create the same “safe” conditions for a crucial conversation….so that others can participate.
Let’s make that our regular pattern. Thanks for listening!