Don’t allow the conversation to be one-sided. A conversation isn’t a conversation if it’s nothing more than a monologue (i.e., one person doing all the talking). Conversation is an “exchange” of thoughts, ideas, inspiration, information, etc. It’s feedback, iron sharpening iron. It’s “dialogue.” Paul instructed the church in Philippi, “Look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others.” One-sided, dominant conversations never allows the other party an opportunity to respond or break into the monologue. The one dominating the conversation isn’t interested at all in the other party who’s doing all the listening. Instead, the enslaved, polite listener is held captive by someone either preaching at them, lecturing them, informing them, or spewing forth a breathless, mindless stream of self-centered prattle.
Invite a response to be sure you’ve been heard accurately. Whenever you’re trying to make a point or present your case in a conflict, pause to give time to the other party to respond. Are they understanding your point or know where you’re going? How far back since you started did you lose them? Overwhelming your case or building up to your point with too much detail, facts or information can lose the person you’re speaking to. Make your case quickly, don’t write a book. Pay attention to their facial and body language which can reveal in some way whether they’re connecting the dots or not. A simple pause to ask something like, “Am I making sense so far?” will invite a response you’ll need to be aware of so that you can clarify or continue.
Don’t shut down or yield to “peace at any price” in order to avoid conflict. This approach to a conversation about a problem within the relationship isn’t honest. Proverbs addresses this in two important verses: “A spoken reprimand is better than approval that’s never expressed.” And again, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” We are conditioned by today’s PC society to not speak the truth in love. Instead, we hide our thoughts or ideas that might be disagreeable to one with whom a conflict exists. I’m not talking about unlocking the flood gates (a fool utters his whole mind)—there’s a time to speak and a time to keep silent. But this doesn’t mean we never speak honestly and openly with someone just to keep from offending them. That will never solve any problem happening within the relationship. It’s not only unfair to the other to withhold your thoughts, it can grow into a root of entangled bitterness in you, causing undo emotional stress and anxiety until it’s addressed. Peace at any price is more costly than vocalizing disagreement.
Take a breath and think before you speak. Proverbs says, “Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” And again, “A fool expresses all his emotions, but a wise person controls them.” Leaders can’t afford the luxury of popping off a comment before determining its consequences. To respond to anything before taking in all the facts will come back to bite you. So be quick to listen and slow to speak. Especially if you’re in the middle of a heated conversation.