Imagine this scenario. “Joe” has had regular conflicts in various matters with “Mary.” Their differences are no secret and such disagreements have surfaced periodically for years. Now imagine that something true but very difficult for Mary to hear about herself needs to be said. For the sake of this post, we’ll say the hard message is that Mary has breath that would make a horse pass out (not the actual issue I have in mind, of course).
Who is the best person to get this message to Mary most successfully? Is it Joe who has regularly confronted Mary about previous matters? Probably not. Mary has already learned to tune out Joe when convenient and she will most likely ignore the hard message regardless of how true it is.
That’s where Patty comes in. If Mary is good friends with Patty, and Patty also knows the truth of this hard message that Mary needs to hear, then Patty is in the best position to deliver that tough message in a clear but kind way. Mary will be more open to the message if it comes from a trusted friend than from a regular adversary.
Chances are pretty good that in combined scenarios in your life right now, you are all of the above people. For some situations, you’re Joe who would like to give a true, needed, hard message to someone, but the past history you have with this person negates the likelihood of successful communication. Maybe you’re Mary and either just heard or are about to hear something from another that won’t be easy to take. Perhaps you’re Patty who has an opportunity to use your positive history with Mary to pass along a tough word with kindness and understanding.
None of the roles is easy. Of the ones above, a heavy burden rests on Patty because important guidance can be delivered only by this person in a way likely to be heard and accepted. That brings us to Leap year lesson #296 – Sometimes it takes a close friend to deliver a hard message.