It’s challenging to tell someone you love that you’re angry with them. Even with the best of intentions, hurt feelings come easily.
Our counselors here at Focus regularly help with questions of this nature. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal dealt with this very issue, and so I asked them to review the author’s suggestions. They affirmed much of what was written, but offered a few other thoughts. I’d like to share their response with you now:
- Slow Down. Don’t feel like you need to immediately settle the problem. Take time to pray and ask God’s help and wisdom to see the other person’s point of view. Ask Him to give you the right words and tone.
- Acknowledge the Challenge. Your intent is to defuse or decrease the defensiveness that usually comes with a tough topic.This can be done by being intellectually honest and expressing your burden to the other person.
- Say “I”, not “You.” This advice was offered in the Journal article and our counselors strongly agreed. “Don’t say, “You did _____ wrong.” Say, “I felt hurt when you did _____.”
- Really Listen. Given the emotion, it’s easy to be consumed by your own thoughts as opposed to the other person’s perspective, whether it’s valid or not. As they elaborate you might say, “I’d like to understand. Please tell me more.”
- Set a Timer. When the time is up, agree to take a break, ponder and pray. Agree on a time to meet again. (“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26)
That’s some good advice, I think, and I’d welcome your thoughts on the topic.