Addressing The Elephant In The Room
Awkward conversations are part of life.
Someone has bad breath or a hair poking out of places it shouldn’t be, or spinach in their teeth and you’re staring straight into an awkward conversation.
Even more uncomfortable opportunities for awkward conversations arise when someone you love misreads a cue, drops the ball, or oversteps a boundary.
The temptation in these situations is to suck it up and tell yourself to overlook it.
But, if you shrink back instead of stepping into the awkward conversation, you send the message that all is well, when clearly it is not.
The other response is to overreact, blow up, or give ultimatums which only serves to make the issue worse and harder to resolve.
How do we have potentially awkward conversations that ultimately do good even when it feels bad?
Address the elephant in the room!
Proverbs 27:6 says, Wounds from a friend can be trusted. Awkward conversations are truly an expression of love and care toward your beloved.
I know, I know, it’s scary!
You’re afraid of being misunderstood. Afraid your advice and wisdom will be rejected. Terrified of fracturing the relationship.
I can’t guarantee that won’t happen, but I can help set you up for success to get the best possible outcome in awkward conversations.
5 steps to address the elephant in the room.
1. Address the issue ASAP with as little fanfare as possible.
The longer you wait to address the elephant in the room, the harder it will be to bring it up. The more uncomfortable you seem once the conversation begins, the more tension you create – making it even more awkward.
2. Go directly to the person and have the conversation in a private space.
Instead of gossiping or judging the person for being ignorant or oblivious, have the awkward conversation with them.
3. Pre-plan your opening statement to begin the conversation with a sentence that puts everyone at ease.
Something on the order of:
- I know this is awkward, but …
- I’m a little uncomfortable bringing this up, but …
- What I’m about to tell you might be a little difficult to hear, but …
4. Be kind but clear about the issue.
No teasing, no hinting, no beating around the bush. Just address the problem and offer a solution if possible.
5. Finish on a positive note.
Always close the conversation with an affirmation or compliment along with the reassurance that you’re for them and available to them.
Worth the risk.
Addressing the elephant in the room with an awkward conversation may be hard, but it’s essential as you love well. You can change the trajectory of a person’s day or even life by having the courage to speak truth in love.
What’s your tendency when faced with an elephant in the room? Do you overlook and endure or stuff till you explode?
Verse for today: See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. —Hebrews 12:15
Prayer: God, I want to be at peace with you and your people. Help me take responsibility for my part of any issue. Give me courage to have hard conversations. Give me the perfect words for peace to be restored. In Jesus’ name, amen.
This was very helpful Robyn. Thank you. Comforting even.
I’m usually the type that suffers in silence when someone has hurt my feelings and ruminate about it. A co-worker once said to me “you let people hurt you”. She couldn’t understand why I tolerate mistreatment and never stand up for myself.
I read your first book, and when you described your husband Craig in the Crash Landing chapter I was so moved by it because the feelings of walking on eggshells you describe is how I often feel. It’s hard to have a difficult conversation when you never know what fleshy over the top reaction you’re going to get from the other person. I find that if I prayerfully wait a week and then tiptoe into a needed conversation, calmly describing how the incident affected me, I might get a healing resolution. I recognize that in this broken world we live, all my hope is in Christ alone. The elephants might never go away, but God is bigger. ?
So well put, Paula. thank you for posting the reminder that timing is as important as the words and tone we use.
That is an elephant over your head!
I noticed that, too. It was in the lodge where I was speaking. Could not resist snapping the shot.
I have followed you for quite a while, and I so appreciate your insights and your love for our Lord.
This article is something near and dear to my heart. It is something that I believe strongly. I try to accomplish your steps and share this with others to do the same.
I have a favor to ask, with my love of elephants, it was very difficult for me to see the head of a beautiful elephant on the wall. Would you consider removing that photo and replacing it with a different elephant, perhaps one just in a room?
Thank you, I appreciate your consideration of this matter.
By the way, I just got on a flt. at 7 am, and I’m now sitting in Chicago waiting for another flight to go home to Arizona. I was visiting my 90-year-old auntie in Kalamazoo. I was there for five days, I had no idea you were so close by ?
Blessings and hugs,
Thank you for addressing the elephant in the room with kindness and diplomacy! I honor your request and appreciate you asking.
Hey Robyn, We all had to deal with the elephant in the room last weekend in Latta SC. LOL.
I do pray you and Dave made it home in time to speak one last time with his father. I’m sure the Lord has taken him home and I pray for you, Dave, and his family for God to surround you all with His love and comfort during this loss in your family. My prayers remain with you.
Love and Blessing to my Sister in Christ!! Fran Singleton
We did make it home alright and Dave’s dad is rallying! Praise the LORD.
We will be forever grateful for your advice and compassion.