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The Conversation You Dread

A nasty outburst led to a more constructive approach for those difficult confrontations.

After a staff meeting, Sue whispered, "Can I speak to you?" We slipped into the next room, and she closed the door with a firmness that caught my attention.

"I have a problem with you I need to address. The ministry calendar came out yesterday, and you scheduled something on a night that I planned to do a training. I can't believe you'd do this without talking to me. You always do this! You never ask me …"

On she went, angry at being shut out of a decision she should have been a part of. I was dumbstruck. I hadn't known of the problem. Another person was responsible for the colliding dates, someone that Sue was mad at a lot. I didn't want to point fingers, and I didn't want to add to the tension in their relationship. I also felt she had every right to be frustrated, so I decided to absorb her anger, apologize, and promise to make the appropriate correction.

That was the first in a series of bad decisions in that conversation. I'll spare you the ugly details. But my attempt at an amiable ...

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From Issue:Fall 2004: Keeping Conflict Healthy
January/February
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