Hard Conversations

I can be pretty blunt sometimes, by my own admission. And it’s fair to say that I’ve articulated some things that could have been said better. However there are times when being pretty blunt can be necessary. You need to get the point across, and subtle hints, vibes and tactfulness are either not being picked up, or are just plain ignored.

I had a situation with a client some time ago who was clearly out of their depth. I had sensed it for some time, and with every conversation, my sense of unease grew. I was asking the questions, just being as gentle as I could, and taking a low profile approach to things, in short I was doing my best not to rock the boat. After all it was their project, who was I to interfere?

But finally came the time when I realised I need to be pretty forthright. Both for their sake as well as my own peace of mind, and also because I felt that the reputation of my facility was at stake as well.

A hard conversation needed to be had. And as I sat across from these people, I knew I was going to have to take the risk, there was a fair bit at stake. I stated my concerns with the project, outlining the issues as I saw them, and relaying my general sense of unease at the way the project was being handled.

What followed was interesting.

They didn’t get angry (I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had – I was pretty uncompromising). What they did was open up and give me the back story of what had been happening and some of the issues they were dealing with. Stuff that they had been reluctant to talk about, but they probably needed to. There were no excuses, just a simple laying out of the facts.

What I got was a much better picture of what they were trying to achieve, and where they wanted to go. Information that months of my gentle approach had failed to obtain. In 5 minutes I had obtained more information than I had gained in 5 months of ‘softly softly’. We finished our conversation and I assured them of my support and help.

The bible talks a lot about speaking words ‘in season’. Picking the right time and place to say something is a learned skill that we could all do with (me most of all). I needed to be clear at a place where time was short, and things needed to get moving. Sometimes we choose the blunt option first. That’s not the right way in most cases. But when the chips are down, and it’s ‘come to Jesus’ time; then perhaps a little bluntness is what’s required to bring the clarity and openness that’s needed before you can actually  help a client get to where they want to go.

I would never recommend bluntness, but sometimes it’s the instrument you need to apply.

About andy63

Auditorium/Facilities Manager at Kennedy Baptist College. Family man, Dockers Supporter, NFL and NBA tragic who loves the Red Bull Air Race and a good meal. A Christian who is grateful for grace and forgiveness and the fact that Jesus is alive.

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