No one wants to have a difficult conversation, but we all need to have them and learn how to lean into these challenging moments.

Difficult conversations are never easy, but we all have to have them. In this Resolute Podcast, Vince Miller is joined by Bill English from Platinum Group and expert in the fields of counseling, business, and leadership. Bill English is a prolific author and the founder of Bible and Business. Today they discuss how to lean into the difficult conversations that we must have in business and life. Find out more about Bill’s latest seminars here.

PODCAST:

TRANSCRIPT:

Vince: This is Resolute and the Resolute Leadership Podcast. I am Vince Miller, your founder, and host. And today we’re in a new series entitled, “Managing difficult conversations.” Today we’re discussing the topic of leaning into hard conversations.

Well, welcome back to the program. If this is your first time tuning in, well thank you for joining us. Our mission at Resolute is to disciple and develop men to lead. So if you’re looking for great content for your men’s group or your men’s ministry, then you need to go to our website today at beresolute.org. There’s a number of great tools there for you.

Also if you want to follow us, you can of course on social media – Facebook, LinkedIn – wherever you use social media, you will find us. Also, you may be listening through our website today, but you should also know that you can find us on every major feed – including iTunes and SoundCloud. So follow along, guys. But now, let’s dive in.

Well guys, I am excited to introduce to you today, Bill English. He’s a good friend and comes with tons of experience from all over the business world. Bill is the founder of Bible and Business. He’s also an associate at the Platinum group. A licensed psychologist. Holds double master’s degrees. And is a guest contributor on KTIS Radio. He’s authored 15 very technical books. And he draws on his experience in business ownership, pastoral experience, and psychological training – to help others in their efforts to be successful in business and life. This guys a rock star, and today we’re going to dive into a conversation with him over a few weeks, discussing the topic of managing difficult conversations. Bill, welcome to the show.

Bill: Hey, thanks for having me on.
Vince: So I – I know that you’re kinda a little bit of an expert in this field of having difficult conversations with people. And I would say that because we’re upper Mid-Westerner’s, right? That

Vince: So I – I know that you’re kinda a little bit of an expert in this field of having difficult conversations with people. And I would say that because we’re upper Mid-Westerner’s, right? That may be many of us avoid difficult conversations sometimes. Would you say that’s true?

Bill: I would say that we avoid difficult conversations, regardless of where we live. Although the Minnesota nice, I think does contribute a little bit more to that, yeah.

Vince: Yeah it does. And I’ve encountered moments that have been challenging for me in my workplace before.
Bill: Right.

Bill: Right.

Vince: But I’m – you’re seeing this all over the place, and you are inviting people to come to an opportunity to figure out how to move through some of these difficult conversations. How – why would you say that this is such a challenge in the workplace today? Why is it hard to have difficult conversations?

Bill: Because none of us like conflict. I think that’s part of the fall. Part of the fall is, we got conflict in our lives. But we didn’t like it to begin with. And so, as a result – whenever you have a conflicted relationship or conflicted situation, and you know you need to go talk to somebody about it. You get that knot in your stomach, you get that urge to avoid, and just kinda let it go. And it’s just a whole lot easier to avoid than it is to engage. None of us like it. Why? I think it’s just human nature, quite frankly.

Vince: Yeah, I agree with you on the human nature piece. ‘Cause I mean if we turn back to the first conflict management story in the Bible, clearly Adam and Eve, right?

Bill: Right, right.

Vince: Are in the garden there, and Eve’s kinda blown it. Man has blown it too. And of course, God holds them accountable. He steps into–

Bill: He does.

Vince: Conflict there. And he does some pretty– He actually probably teaches us some great tactics right there. He comes asking questions, right? He comes engaging man and engaging woman. But the response was to avoid. In fact, not only do they avoid, they blame God.

Bill: Yeah.

Vince: For their issues in the end. I assume that could be a great case study on conflict management, right?

Bill: Well top performers in business always look to themselves first when something doesn’t go well, as opposed to blaming other people. One of the things – and I know I’m kind of bunny trailing here for just a moment. But one of the things I look for when I’m interviewing is somebody who knows how to take responsibility when a conflict comes up, and they know they’ve got to engage. And how do they do that? Most people tend to blame other people.

And again, we see – we do see that in Adam and Eve. The serpent didn’t do any blaming. He was happy to have done what he did. And God is the consummate conflict resolution guy. In the sense that he comes in – here’s the problem, here’s what you did. I told you these were the consequences. These are what the consequences are going to be. But then over the long haul of history, God offers the resolution through Jesus Christ. And so not only is he kind of the enforcer, he’s also the resolver, and he’s also the one reaching out in the conflict and saying to mankind essentially, “We have a conflict, and I’m doing everything I can to make this right.”

Vince: That is amazing. That’s almost chilling if you really think about it.

Bill: Yeah.

Vince: That God had the audacity – or let’s say the courage. He’s not human, but he’s giving us an example of really what that looks like, and how to engage in that. And maybe we can call him a top performer?
Bill: Yeah. I think we can call God a top performer, yeah.

Bill: Yeah. I think we can call God a top performer, yeah.
Vince: But he stepped into it. And really the way he did it was very intriguing. He just stepped in and asked questions. Like, “Why are you hiding? What have you done? Have you eaten of the tree?” And he gave them opportunities to confess. But in essence, they kind of evaded a little bit. They were scared, they hid. And then there was the shaming and the blaming of other people. And in essence, they were really blaming God for creating woman, or the serpent that they had given to him. And that deceived them. So there we see the bad example of what to do. But God – on the other hand – he steps into the conflict, has the difficult conversation by just simply asking questions. Very intriguing. But in chapter 3, we’re already having a difficult conversation. And yes, I would agree with you. I think it’s profound that God is a problem solver.

Vince: But he stepped into it. And really the way he did it was very intriguing. He just stepped in, and asked questions. Like, “Why are you hiding? What have you done? Have you eaten of the tree?” And he gave them opportunities to confess. But in essence, they kind of evaded a little bit. They were scared, they hid themselves. And then there was the shaming and the blaming of other people. And in essence, they were really blaming God for creating woman, or the serpent that they had given to him. And that deceived them. So there we see the bad example of what to do. But God – on the other hand – he steps into the conflict, has the difficult conversation by just simply asking questions. Very intriguing. But in chapter 3, we’re already having a difficult conversation. And yes, I would agree with you. I think it’s profound that God is a problem solver.

Bill: Yeah.

Vince: I think top performers probably are problem solvers. Would you not say?

Bill: Oh I would say so. And they see relationships as the source of not only their success but also their greatest opportunities when these conflicts come up. One of my 67 undeniable truths about business ownership is – unresolved conflict leaves a lot of opportunity on the table.

Vince: That’s good.
Bill: And so if you have an ongoing conflict, and you’re not taking care of it in one way or another, then you’re just – you’re not being all that you can be. And your business isn’t all that it can be. Your family, your relationships aren’t all that they can be. Relationships give us both our greatest joys in life and our greatest pains and sorrows in life.

Bill: And so if you have an ongoing conflict, and you’re not taking care of it in one way or another, then you’re just – you’re not being all that you can be. And your business isn’t all that it can be. Your family, your relationships aren’t all that they can be. Relationships give us both our greatest joys in life and our greatest pains and sorrows in life.

Vince: Yeah, that’s good.

Bill: And again, that’s why a relationship with Jesus Christ is so very important.
Vince: Well and – I’ve got to ask you, Bill–

Vince: Well and – I’ve got to ask you, Bill–

Bill: Sure.

 

Bill: Well we get scared. We get scared.

Vince: We get scared, okay.

Bill: We get scared. “I don’t know if I’m really right here? So maybe I’m going to avoid this.”

Vince: Okay.

Bill: “What will the other person think of me? Am I being stupid? Am I being arrogant? Am I being selfish?” Those kind of things come up inside ourselves. And on the other end of the spectrum, “Maybe it just isn’t worth it to me. I just don’t feel like dealing with this. If this guy thinks I’m a horse’s pa-toot, so be it. I’m not sure I think much higher of him. And I’m willing to lose the relationship,” kind of thing.

Vince: Yeah.

Bill: And I don’t think all relationships can be saved. I think there is a time when endings are necessary. But there’s a myriad of emotions and thoughts that go on inside of us that lead to the avoidance.

Vince: Yeah, there’s all kinds of things going on in our mind and our heart. Maybe specifically in the situation. But what I hear you saying is – is that there’s a commodity on the other side of these people. Sometimes it’s reconciliation, restoration, forgiveness. Maybe hope for continued partnership? Or personal growth for me. That even though we have all these problems, and we avoid these difficult conversations that – sometimes it’s worth it to push in a little bit.

Bill: It is.

Vince: Right, right, it’s worth it. Have you seen the benefits of pushing into difficult conversations?

Bill: Oh yeah. Of course I have. I’ve seen benefits where power imbalances become more balanced, because you deal with a conflict. And that’s one of the really tough things, is when an employee needs to confront an employer. Or a person who is maybe poor needs to confront somebody who’s rich. Somewhere where there’s a power imbalance. Sometimes, “facing into the negative,” is what I call it. When you face into the negative, you tend to remove some of those imbalances. And boy that can lead to some great harmonious relationships that move the ball down the field quite a bit with whatever the 2 of you are doing.

Vince: Yeah, I love that. Because I’ve got to tell you. I’m a guy who I would say – early in my faith, I would say in my 20’s, especially, Bill. I avoided conflict. I really did. I was scared of it. And mostly because I grew up in a home that was overtly strong. My dad was overly aggressive, I would say. And even an aggressor toward me. My mum was not conflict averse either. She would step into it – yell, scream, become belligerent toward me for small things. And so in my teen years, I learnt how to run from things.

Bill: Yeah.

Vince: I got really good at it, right?

Bill: Yeah. Right.

Vince: And over the years, I discovered that I was going to have to step into it. In fact, I’ll never forget doing my marriage counselling. And the counselor said to me, “Yeah, you 2 probably shouldn’t get married.”

Bill: Was that because you avoided stuff?

Vince: That’s because I avoided stuff, and–

Bill: Did you ever have a first time where you yelled at your dad? ‘Cause I had that.

Vince: I did, and I remember I yelled at him. But then I ran very quickly, because I wanted to get out of the reaches of his hands.

Bill: I remember, I got – because my dad was a yeller.

Vince: Yeah.

Bill: And I avoided him. I just avoided him like the plague. And I remember, I was about 18 or 19, and he said something. And I stood up, and I walked over – and I got about 4 inches from his face, and I just started yelling at him. And it was one of the most freeing, liberating things I’d ever done. And after that, my dad never yelled at me again.

Vince: Interesting.

Bill: He really backed down. And he actually started to respect me.

Vince: Wow.

Bill: I wish I could’ve gained that respect in another way.

Vince: Yes, or had done it differently, yeah.

Bill: No, I’m not sure I could’ve done it differently though.

Vince: Could be, yeah.

Bill: But another way to pick up on this avoidance theme. Shift gears just a little bit.

Vince: Yeah.

Bill: Another way that we avoid is we triangle. So if I have a conflict with you, I go talk to somebody who knows both of us, and I just unload on them about what a horse’s pa-toot you are.

Vince: Yeah, yeah.

Bill: And I avoid, that way. But boy do I feel better. I feel big, I feel strong, I feel powerful, I feel righteous, I feel good.

Vince: Yeah.

Bill: And then I feel bad, and–

Vince: Yeah.

Bill: And it just messes up relationships.

Vince: Yeah, of course it does. It’s very non-Matthew 18, right? And I mean, Jesus has prescribed to us, that look – everything’s going to be better if we just go and we lean into conflict. That what he says there. He says that we are called–

Bill: Yeah.

Vince: To go to our brother.

Bill: Yeah.

Vince: And the funny thing about it is, it’s not the offender that comes. It’s the offended party, it’s me who’s heard. I don’t have a choice to be passive aggressive or avoid it. I go to them and say, “Look, can I make you aware of this?”

Bill: Yeah.

Vince: And then of course there’s – if they don’t listen, there’s extra steps that we take there. But it’s not avoidance that Jesus Christ has called us into. It’s stepping into it. And I’ve got to tell you, Bill – that this has been really a challenge for me. And I would assume some of our listeners would find it a challenge too, because of the wounds that we bear. I love that you share about the wounds that you bear in your childhood.

Bill: Yeah.

Vince: And I’ve borne in my childhood. The challenge is to push through those emotionally and spiritually, so that we can become more refined and better, right? And I would say – in my own life, I have learned to step into that more and more and more. And I’ve gotten better at it.

Bill: That’s good.

Vince: Right? Like I’ve done better. In fact, this week I had to deal with 3 or 4 small conflict issues. I’m just thinking about them in my mind right now.

Bill: Sure.

Vince: One of them was with one of our kids. One of them was with a client. Another one was with a third party person. Another one was with someone we were talking to on the phone, etc, etc. Regarding some sort of issue that they were having. And I – I’ve got to tell you – I’m reflecting on myself right now. It’s – yeah, you’ve got to step into those things. And you’ve got to not be scared of them. And you’ve got to wake up and like go get them, and try to figure them out. And I can tell you most of the time, out of all 4 of those conversations, they ended up in peace.

Bill: Yeah.

Vince: And I built relationships that gained respect – probably like you did when you looked your father in the eye, and you kind of headed out back.

Bill: Yeah, 2 things. 1 is that when we face into the negative, and we deal with conflict, we oftentimes strengthen the relationship. And it’s a way to strengthen relationships. Secondly, when we come in, and we deal with conflict – we are learning to be better leaders. Good leaders deal with conflict, but they don’t deal with it in a harsh, overpowering way like so many – unfortunately so many Christian leaders of larger organizations and churches do. They just kinda manhandle you through it. The real leaders are the ones who really talk it through, and help the other party understand the pain, the hurt, and maybe where they’ve gone wrong. That Matthew 18 part.

But at the same time, they’re willing to hear, “Oh this was your part in this.” One of the best things you can do before you go to talk to somebody about a conflict, is to get on your knees and say, “God, where have I sinned? Show me my sin.” And God has promised, in – set in Chronicle 7:14. If we confess our sins, one of the things he will do is – heal our land.

Vince: Yeah.

Bill: And part of healing our land is healing our relationships.

Vince: That is super good. Well Bill, I want – I’m so excited about the next podcast with you. Because we are going to jump into some skill stuff. But I just want to say to the listeners today that if you’re a guy out there listening right, and you are thinking of a conflict management moment, or a difficult conversation that you need to have – we just want to pray that you’ll lean into that a little bit today. That’s the challenge today. Is to lean in to those issues, so that you – number 1 – can become better. Number 2 – so that other people and relationships will improve. But number 3 – this is how we model a relationship like God. This is what God did, this is what Jesus did. They solved the problems around them for the sake of the kingdom and the message of Jesus Christ.

Vince: Well guys, that’s the show. Thanks so much for listening. As we close, I want to remind you of 2 things. So first is this. My good friend here, Bill English hosts a number of seminars throughout the year, seasonally – that he invites business leaders and their people to come to. Where he coaches and teaches them how to handle and manage difficult business conversations. You’ve got to check this out. I’m going to give you a link right now, for you to consider to go to.

And I want you to write this down if you can. It’s beresolute.org/difficultconversations. Forward slash, difficult conversations. I’ll have a number of links there, that link directly to Bill’s website. Directly to some of his seminars, so you can check them out. He offers them quarterly. The next ones are coming up here in November. I believe again in January and March of next year. You’ve got to check these out. They’re awesome times for you to bring your employees, your friends, your business partners – in helping to coach them to understand how to manage these difficult conversations that we have to have in our life.

Secondly, as always – if you’re looking for men’s content, you know where to find it, right? Beresolute.org. I hope you stop by there today, because there’s a number of great tools for men, and those that are leading in men’s ministry, or just leading a small group – with a group of men, maybe at your business or your home?

So guys, as always – I hope you enjoy this podcast. But please know, that the time that we spent together today is worthless, unless you act on it. So do something today. Do something. By getting off the bench, and into the game. And I’ll see you right back here next time for another edition of the Resolute Podcast.

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