Defusing Explosive Meetings

by | Jul 23, 2017

?????????????????????????????????????Have you ever been in a meeting that was about to explode?

You could feel the tension building with each person’s comments and knew it was just a matter of time before the dynamite went off.

It might have been a conversation with your spouse or teenager. Maybe it was a staff meeting at the office. Or, sometimes most volatile of all, a congregational meeting at your church.

Well, here is a creative way to “de-fuse” this kind of dynamite.

Bill and Peggy White, two of our most active Certified RW Instructors, told me about a tense meeting at a Christian school in their community. About fifty parents were gathered together to voice grievances.

The pastor who led the meeting was a seasoned veteran—combat-tested not in Afghanistan but in his local church. He knew how quickly such meetings can escalate into harsh accusations and demands for termination.

So at the beginning of the meeting, he briefly summarized the problem they were there to discuss. Once he got agreement on the issue people wanted to address, he set forth one simple ground rule: anyone who wanted to speak had to follow the same format by answering six questions in a specific order:

  • Briefly stated, how do you feel because of this problem?
  • What have you done that might have contributed to this problem?
  • What do you think would please God as we work through this situation?
  • What steps have you already taken to make things better?
  • What are you now willing to do to help resolve this problem?
  • What do you suggest others do to help resolve this problem?

Six simple questions that helped people to become more God-aware, self-aware and other-aware by remembering God’s involvement in the situation, empathizing with one another, recalling their shared frailty, getting the logs out of their own eyes, showing respect and accepting responsibility, and by being solution-minded rather than attack-oriented.

Now that’s relational wisdom!

Try it the next time you’re faced with a tense conversation, whether at a congregational meeting or with two squabbling children.

– Ken Sande

Reflection Questions

  • How do these Scripture passages support the five questions listed above: 1 Peter 3:8, John 8:1-11, Matthew 7:3-4, Philippians 2:1-11, Ephesians 4:29? Can you think of related passages?
  • Without identifying individuals, describe a conversation or meeting that escalated into accusations and demands. What were the key relational failures that caused it to go downhill?
  • Think of a person who is skilled at managing tense or volatile conversations. What does he or she do that helps others to converse reasonably and constructively?
  • How could you apply some of those same skills in your life today?

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2017 Ken Sande

Would you like to receive future posts like this? Subscribe now!

Share this post

Related Posts

10 Ways to Connect Deeply at Thanksgiving

10 Ways to Connect Deeply at Thanksgiving

Would you like to move beyond superficial conversation during your Thanksgiving gathering this year? Would you like to connect deeply with your family and friends and hear them share stories about the most meaningful people and events of their lives? If so, give each...

32 Ways to Enjoy Highly Relational Holidays

32 Ways to Enjoy Highly Relational Holidays

If you're like most people, the coming holiday season will be either the best time of the year or the worst time of the year ... and it will probably depend largely on the condition of your relationships. To help you make this the best season ever, we’ve compiled...

Asking Parents to Give Up Their Keys

Asking Parents to Give Up Their Keys

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was to ask my mother and my mother-in-law to give up their car keys. Doing it with each of them on the same day (since they both lived with us) was especially difficult. Our moms loved running their own errands, going out for...

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop