The Power of Coffee and Awkward Conversations

coffee and awkward

I really didn’t want to talk to her about this.

I had already made small efforts to smooth things over, but I still hadn’t just sat down, looked her in the eye, and said what I needed to say.

We used to be quite close, but enough had changed that I didn’t know what to expect. The truth is, I was afraid. I was afraid of awkwardness, of saying it wrong, of not hearing the response I wanted to hear… of being hurt again.

It took strong prompting from people whose wisdom I trust to get me to ask her to coffee. We went to a local cafe, I bought her a latte, we made very friendly small talk that felt like old times… then I took a deep breath and carefully broached the subject.

Over the next hour, we talked, listened, shared our hearts, laughed, affirmed and encouraged each other, and hugged. By the time I walked out of that coffee shop, my heart felt a thousand times lighter. I drove away enthusiastically gushing to God, “Yes!! This is what it’s supposed to be like! Thank You for unity, humility, and RECONCILIATION in Your people!”

This will probably shock people who grew up with me, but I can honestly say that at this point in my life, I am a huge fan of awkward conversations. Preferably over coffee.*

I think this is because I hate division. I really, really, really hate division. I hate when people who ought to be showing the love of Christ to each other can’t bring themselves to just lay the awkwardness on the table and deal with it. I hate it when someone I really do like and respect can’t bring him- or herself to make things right with me. Some things are better left unsaid, but many times, unspoken words fester like a wound that won’t heal.

I’ve actually been on the receiving end of these “awkward conversations” toward reconciliation more often than I have initiated them, and I can tell you, I’ve always walked away with more respect for the other person and feeling like a wall had been broken down. Every time, when the conversation is approached with love, tenderness, honesty, and humility, I know God is rejoicing with us.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God… So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Matthew 5:9, 23-24

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.”
Colossians 3:12-15

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Romans 12:18

We’re a family. We’re one body in Christ. We have no right to let unspoken words build up walls between us. Love and unity is our mandate, and I’m determined to fight for it – Every. Single. Time.

So if you need to initiate an “awkward conversation” with someone, here’s my advice:

  1. PRAY. Get God’s heart for the situation. Ask Him for love to abound (Philippians 1:9).
  2. If you can without breaking anyone’s confidence, talk to someone you know will give you wise counsel and pray with you before the conversation takes place.
  3. If at all possible, ask if you can take them out for coffee (or tea, or fro-yo, or whatever). Avoid the “business meeting” feeling. Let them know that you value spending time with them.
  4. Don’t launch right in. Chat, ask questions, show interest in their life and heart outside of this one issue. This is part of loving and honouring them well.
  5. Share your feelings as simply, honestly, and tenderly as possible. Ask forgiveness in any area you can think of.
  6. Embrace the awkwardness. Laugh about it! They’re probably as uncomfortable as you are. Acknowledging it robs it of its power.
  7. Ask questions and listen. Let them say whatever they want. The goal is mutual understanding for the sake of unity.
  8. Encourage the other person! Tell them what you love about them. Affirm what you see God doing in their life.
  9. Don’t be paranoid about saying everything exactly right. The point is to expose what’s been hiding. It’s okay if it’s a messy process.
  10. GO LOW. Humility is your best friend. Humility will win the war when every other weapon fails.

It’s amazing how much healing can come from a cup of coffee and open communication soaked in love, humility, and honour.

So go forth and be boldly awkward for the sake of unity, my friends!

.
*I love the cultural phenomenon that is “going out for coffee” together with someone, but I’m actually not a huge coffee person, so if you ask me out for coffee, I’m probably going to just drink tea.
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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tina
    Jun 29, 2016 @ 23:27:47

    Excellent advice

    Reply

  2. Sarah Keagy
    Jun 30, 2016 @ 07:52:26

    Nicely said… Oh and I generally end up drinking tea too 😜

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply

  3. thelastferris
    Jun 30, 2016 @ 10:18:47

    This was so helpful! Especially as someone who is SLOWLY learning that confrontation is a good and necessary thing sometimes – not something to avoid at all costs! Thank you for your words 🙂

    Reply

  4. Michelle Morrison
    Jun 30, 2016 @ 17:03:28

    Excellent and Biblically based advice…But you do have to be prepared to give things to God and move on if the conversation doesn’t go as expected. I am all for putting effort into communicating and smoothing things over. There will be issues and rough spots in any relationship that have to be worked through, but it does take effort on the part of more than one person, and both people have to be receptive and listening. That may not always be the case. Part of walking with God is trusting Him, and there may be relationships He doesn’t necessarily want us to pursue. Of course you do have to take action to discover that. It is a process as you pointed out.

    Reply

  5. Brad Bargmeyer
    Jun 30, 2016 @ 22:43:35

    This is a good list. I actually did have a similar challenging discussion the same day you sent this. I should have followed your list!

    Brad D. Bargmeyer

    Reply

  6. Jonathan Camac
    Jun 30, 2016 @ 22:59:38

    Awesome advice, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply

  7. kahiro
    Jul 16, 2016 @ 11:21:14

    great piece.Humility always preceeds true freedom..

    Reply

  8. nihigg
    Dec 08, 2016 @ 20:32:57

    Great article! Stopping to pray mid-conversation always makes things better. The Lords presence somehow eliminates awkwardness. Check out my new article on “5 Ways to Avoid Awkward Conversation.”

    Reply

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