So, you took the risk & said the hard thing to a friend or loved one. They didn’t take it too well & now you have a strained relationship.
I got an email the other day from a person where the above scenario happened & they asked:
“So, I guess my question is what happens next or what’s the next step? I’m really becoming guarded on sharing anything or saying the hard thing.“
I shared a few of my thoughts in a response by email & asked their permission to post their question. I bet this has happened before to other people & I’m hoping we’ll be able to grow with each other.
First of all, as scary as saying the hard thing can be, I wouldn’t let your fear deter you from speaking what’s right. Check your motives. Remember, saying the hard thing comes from an outpouring of love, not from a desire to control or manipulate. Pray about it & if you feel convicted to share what’s on your heart, then follow through.
If you’re debating on saying the “hard thing,” I’d encourage you to consider a few circumstances:
Was it a one time occurance?
We all slip up from time to time & say things we shouldn’t have or do things against our better judgment. If you think the person probably had a bad moment then I would encourage you to extend some grace there & let it go.
However, if you notice a pattern of behavior that is harmful or hurtful to themselves or others, then you’re going to need to go down that road with them.
Did they ask your opinion?
If they did, then you need to be honest with them. If they are asking you in the first place then there is a level of trust & respect that you should honor. It can be tempting to just tell someone what they want to hear. I’ve done this before & I regret some of the times I did. If you’re just responding so they’ll feel good about themselves then you really haven’t helped them. In fact, you probably only validated or justified (in their eyes) their harmful behavior.
If you said the hard thing & now have a broken relationship, then I’d encourage you to reach out. If you were willing to take the chance to say it in the first place, then the relationship should be worth it.
Ask them was it what you said or how you said it.
If it was what you said, then talk with them more. Do they disagree with you? If yes, then use examples to explain the behavior you’ve noticed. Be specific. But be gentle.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
I shared before that I used to get defensive (and still do sometimes) when I hear the hard thing. It’s hard! There is a part of me that is ashamed when someone else points out something ugly about me that deep down I knew about myself. It’s embarrassing when you realize that someone else sees it too.
So, give them a little time & a little space. You reached out. They may need to do some wrestling with themselves about what you said.
If it was how you said it, then let them explain their position & encourage them to share their feelings. Be sure to do a lot of listening & less talking here. We take things wrong all the time & sometimes our message gets lost in translation. You may have said the hard thing as kindly as you could & they may tell you, you sounded like a self-righteous know-it-all. I wouldn’t advise getting all tangled up with this. There is no point in getting into an argument over how a person should feel. Assure them that you love them. That’s why you said the hard thing in the first place! Remind them of the lovable things about them. Hopefully, you’ll be able to restore your relationship.
“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
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