I have had to take on several difficult conversations recently. Each involved giving feedback with messages I did not think the listener would be find easy to hear. As I reflected in preparation for the conversation, I focused on what the heart of the message was and how I would deliver it. In the process, I found myself examining my intent. In each case, I was convinced that the messages were important and that they would help the individual.
As the time to sit down to have the question grew closer, the question I was left with in each situation was the same. Would the listener hear me? If so, what would s/he hear?
With the first round of conversations behind me, I am left with a few reminders.
Individuals may not like what you are saying but each had a thirst to hear honest feedback. If trust is in place, hearing is possible. David’s openness to God reflects the foundation we need in relationship to hear each other; “God is fair and just; He corrects the misdirected, sends them in the right direction.” (Psalm 25.8)
A willingness to hear does not automatically lead to understanding what one has heard. Openness is a gateway but it is not the destination. If feedback is to be useful, understanding must following hearing.
The truth, viability, and usefully with the heart of feedback only comes to life with action. Hearing and understanding are steps. A confirmation that the feedback has landed is found if there is a change in the steps that follow.
I have no idea if the feedback I have given has landed. I am hopeful. Given the conversations, I am convinced it was the right time and place. The best action I can do is wait, standing reach to help if asked. In a way I understand God’s dilemma with me. Life offers me daily feedback. Sometimes I hear, while at other times I do not. When I hear, there are moments when I understand. What happens next rests in my court. Being patient is hard.