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How to talk about a problem

In a recent post, I wrote about the distinction between issues and incidents. I also expressed why I believe most problems fall into the category of “incidents.” Sometimes, however, there are issues that have to be dealt with. Addressing issues with others can be an unnerving experience because it can easily lead to awkward discussions and tense conversations.

Here’s my two cents on making such conversations a bit easier to have:

When problems with others arise, it’s easy to demand resolution right then and there by attempting to discuss it immediately. During such times, we should pause and reflect on our motives for bringing the issue up. Are we raising the issue because we feel frustrated or are we raising the issue because we want to actually arrive at a solution?

If we’re really seeking a solution, then we should make an effort to discuss issues at a time when we’re most likely to get a positive result. In other words, are we taking into account the other person’s mood, energy levels, present activities, and so forth? It’s one thing to make your point by expressing frustration, but it’s an entirely different thing to make your point with the kind of timing and grace that inspires people to have a more receptive attitude.

Even good news, if announced at an improper time, can be deemed offensive or insensitive by the person who’s meant to be the recipient of your message.

If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse. -Proverbs 27:14

If you called your mother or your best friend at 3am to tell them you love them, they probably wont say “Thanks. You’re so thoughtful.” They will likely conclude that you’re being insensitve to their sleeping hours. Rather than appreciate your message, they will wonder why you couldn’t have waited for a better time to tell them.

If this is true of discussing a positive message, how much more do you think it’s true of discussing a problem? Think about

T.K. Coleman

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