My new study for small groups, Say it Brave: Wisdom and Faith for Tough Conversations, is finally available on Amazon. But it has been quite a few years in the making. Here’s the story behind it…
It was the end of a long conference weekend focused on Christ, Church, and Culture (C3), for which I had been asked to teach “How to Have Courageous Conversations.” My dissertation research had focused on the way people communicate when they disagree and my sessions focused on practical advice for tough conversations. A woman approached as I headed out of the auditorium and handed me her business card. “I think your material could help people. Here’s my card.” I took it and thanked her.
As I walked to my car, I glanced down at the card. She was the Senior Editor for a large publishing company. On her card she had scrawled these words: “Talk about a book project?”
That was over 3 years ago. The publishing company was restructured soon after the invitation and the project abandoned. Yet, the passion that was sparked in me by that invitation grew into a flame, fueled by the deep wounds I’ve experienced from hurtful words I’ve heard and said in my lifetime. For more than 3 years, I listened to friends, clients, and students talk about their experiences, digging into Scripture, writing my thoughts, and almost daily being given opportunities to advise and counsel others how to communicate in difficult situations.
What I’ve discovered is that what we say comes either from a place of fear or a place of trust. When we are afraid, we either hide like a Turtle, manipulate like a Fox, or attack like a Bulldog. And all three of these strategies result in deeper disconnection from the people around us. But when we are trusting ourselves, God, and others, we can communicate like an Eagle with powerful vision and the incredible ability to soar.
“Brave” means something different for each of us. If you’re a Turtle, “Brave” means saying what you really think. If you’re a Fox, “Brave” means being vulnerable about what you really feel. And if you’re a Bulldog, “Brave” means backing down and letting go of the control that makes you feel safe.
Because we communicate differently in each of our different relationships, I quickly discovered that one quiz to identify a person’s communication style wouldn’t cut it. Over time, I developed a two-part assessment that helps participants to plot each of their relationships on a diagram, a communication model I call “Speak Eagle.” (See below)
Soon, faith-based groups of leaders began asking for the material. So, I began writing it as study for small groups with stories, creative exercises, and discussion questions that would probe a biblical investigation into the connection between communication and faith. And people began to see communication in a different way. Because it’s not just about words that come out of our mouths, but a posture that starts in our hearts.
Three years ago, I changed the name of this blog to “Say it Brave” not knowing that one day I would write a study with that title. I’m forever grateful to all my friends, clients, and students who have shared their communication stories, and especially to that Senior Editor who handed me her business card. It’s been an adventure that has deepened my faith and my commitment to being a life-giving communicator.