Have you ever been in a conversation and thought to yourself, “What is the point?” You may think they don’t understand you, or maybe you don’t understand them. (Although desiring to have a healthy conversation, it feels like no one understands what you are saying.)
When was the last time you were in a conversation and just wanted to give up?
Have you ever thought about the lens through which your topic of conversation is blurry because of the pain and experiences you have had in this life?
I want to help guide you in your conversations so you can learn how to have a healthy conversation (even when you don’t agree).
Something important to remember: We run on love as a car runs on fuel.
What Does a Healthy Conversation Need
- Quick to listen
- Slow to speak
- Seek to understand but not necessarily agree
- Love and truth are at the center
Learn more about having healthy conversations in my Spiritual Growth Framework course.
How to Have a Healthy Conversation Using Scripture:
Matthew 18:15-17 says, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."
Behave like a Christian" is the subtitle in my Bible. Romans 12:17-21 says, "Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
In context, Paul is talking about putting away the earthly things that bring death and remembering the new life in Christ that we have.
Colossians 3:8-11, "But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all."
Colossians 3:13-14, "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Proverbs 16:7, "When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him."
Note: Men and women typically communicate in different ways. Men may think more analytically. Women may think more emotionally. To have a healthy conversation, seek to understand where they are coming from.
5 Tips To Have A Healthy Conversation
1. Get to the point. Learn to share what you are really feeling and experiencing versus beating around the bush, hoping they figure out what we are trying to say. Be direct. Be honest. Replace “You” language with “I” language. This is not a time to pass blame. Blame causes defenses to go up and listening to go down.
“You make me feel”
“If you did this”
Sharing honestly is not about blaming anyone but fully expressing the issue from both perspectives, which creates an atmosphere for healthy conversations to exist.
Passive-aggressive communication is like a tick. A tick slowly digs its way into our skin until its whole body is immersed and causes problems. Not sharing or being direct becomes a slow and painful process of keeping everything in, which eventually festers within us and causes more damage.
2. Focus on the issues, not the person. Sometimes we get so caught up belittling the other person because of how they made us feel that we never get to the root of the issue.
If we desire to have healthy conversations, we will want to address how to solve the problem, not fix the other person.
3. Listen to their side. One of the hardest things for us to do is hear how we hurt someone, did something wrong, or messed up. We want to run from the pain because the enemy tries to lead us right into shame. When both sides are heard is where compassion and understanding meet. When both sides are expressed is where we have a starting point for resolution and develop healthy conversations.
To be clear, understanding does not mean agreement. However, understanding does not mean we agree with what they are saying but that we hear what they are saying and why they came to the conclusion they have.
We cannot go into a conversation wanting to be right and to be heard (or that our point is right).
If we do, we neglect to hear what the other person is experiencing. Therefore, we lose the opportunity to get to the bottom of it. Whether we are right or wrong, we get to practice being “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)
4. Be clear to hear. What we hear and what someone else says can be two different things. When we are talking with someone, a good habit to have is to repeat what the other person is saying to us. Paraphrase their words and ask them if what you said was correct. That way, we are not assuming what they said but confirming what they said and creating space for a healthy conversation.
5. Communication style and boundaries. Everyone communicates differently based on how they were taught or the level of pain, or their experiences. Pay attention to the words they use, and be sure not to be easily offended. Therefore, boundaries need to be in place, so there is mutual respect. Some people are ready to talk about things right away, and others need a few days to process.
Know What You Need to Have a Healthy Conversation
If someone brings up something from our past, not dealing with the current situation, we can kindly repoint them back to the truth without going into our past. (This is especially important for people we do not know or have a working relationship with.)
Another example is if we have forgiven someone for a wrong, whatever they did is forgiven and in the past. We can not continue to bring up their past forgiveness to prove our point in the present moment. This can make it hard to have a healthy conversation when we continue to hold things against people.
Does God do that with us?
Final notes: Stay committed and connected. Every relationship will look different. When things come up, shutting down is easier than having a conversation. People are worth fighting for.
Other episodes you would enjoy: Build Connection with Others while Keeping Your Boundaries with Nicole Unice 7 Ways To Take Care Of Your Emotional Health