There’s no question that difficult conversations are a part of hospitality…especially at this time in history! While there is so much to learn from each other, things can get heated rather quickly! Some say that it’s a new dynamic in cultures and others say that it’s always been a part of most cultures. Regardless, even if these situations make you want to crawl out of your skin, they simply are unavoidable so it’s time that we learn how to navigate them.
While there is an art to managing opposing dialogue tactfully, I’m here to talk about what to do when they get a little too out-of-hand. Picture heated table talk like a fire; the more people that enter with anger and defensiveness, the bigger the fire gets. As a host, we need to vow to be the “designated diffuser.” Vow to be the one who says, “Things can be different. I commit to steering this in another direction.” To be honest, I crumble under conflict and I’m always tempted to just peace-out. So I’m on this journey with you, but here’s what I’ve learned along the way. I’ve learned that if someone doesn’t diffuse the fire, it will keep blazing! Here are some phrases you can use to bring love, unity, and order to your table:
“Today we are here for _____. We’ve gotten away from that and I can see it dividing us. Can we come back to what brought us here today?”
“I love all of you and have history with you. I don’t want this topic to be what pulls us apart. Can we talk about something else before this goes in a direction none of us want it to?”
“I have so much to learn from you but talking about it this way makes it hard for me to hear you. Can we start over?”
“The way this is going is hurtful, and because I care so deeply about all of you, I want to bring it to a close unless we can agree to hear both sides.”
If I can tell you one more thing, it would be this:
It can be scary and intimidating to put ourselves in the middle of conflict in this way, but even still, vow to do it! Your table is far too precious to be lit to flames and left to burn! We’re learning together! Just one rule as you diffuse, commit to approaching it with love and invitation instead of anger and aggression.
We stand with you . There’s beauty.