How to (gulp!) Speak the Truth in Love, Part 1

To me, the French language is so beautiful!  Regardless of what anyone said to us during our visit to France last Spring, it fell on our ears as soothing and pleasant.

So I wondered what it might sound like to hear something unpleasant in French.

For a few examples…listen below as these lovely French ladies deliver bad news in the loveliest ways:

Translation: “There is a pimple on your nose that is the size of a house.”

Translation: “I will kill that dog if he pees on the rug again.”

Translation:  “Excuse me, ma’am, there is a booger hanging out of your nose.”

(Thank you, lovely ladies for humoring me with my silly experiment!)

Sometimes we have to say things that are not pleasant to the listener.   God’s Word gives good advice for such moments:  “Speak the truth in love…”  (Ephesians 4:15).

Have you ever known someone who prided himself on “speaking the truth”, yet used the “hatchet to remove a fly from a friend’s head”?  It might’ve been honest, but an important ingredient was missing: love.  Saying whatever we feel without regard to how it might impact others builds walls and is not effective.

This process can be painful…both on the receiving and giving ends! Like me, you may wince as you remember a few conversations in your past gone oh so wrong.

So how can we be a loving friend/spouse who addresses the problem (not the person), while encouraging and supporting one who will hopefully try to make a change? By addressing the behavior rather than the character.  Why?

1.  Head vs. Heart.  When we get negative feedback about our actions, we generally hear it in our intellect (our head).  But when we hear bad news about our character, we hear it in our emotions (the heart).  Negative feedback regarding behavior (rather than our character or personality) is easier to receive because it relates to what we do…NOT who we are.

Example 1, using FACTS.  Wife to husband: “You’ve been late for supper 3 times this week. That caused a problem.”

Example 2, using INTERPRETATION:  “You’re work is more important to you than your family and it’s causing a problem.”

The first example, relaying facts, is easier to hear, receive and is hopefully more likely to make a change….(and isn’t that what you want???) The second example, interpreting the action into statements about character…not so good.

2.  It’s not easy to argue with facts.  Criticizing character will likely result in an argument. “You’re so inconsiderate.” “No, I’m not.” “Yes, you are.”  “No, I’m not.”  “Yes, you are.”

What fun.

While interpretations can be inaccurate, unfair, biased and distorted, facts are just….well, facts!  When you stick to the facts about behavior, you keep the drama down.

Join me Thursday for a simple, practical way to speak the truth in love.

Au revoir!

5 thoughts on “How to (gulp!) Speak the Truth in Love, Part 1

  1. Pingback: A Practical, Effective Way to Say the Tough Thing | The Official Blog of Connie Carey

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