Not Sugar Coating Things


Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. Was Ms. Poppins right? Are we better off adding some sweetness to the bitter things of life? One thing is for sure: no one likes to be criticized. We may like to hear constructive feedback but the retelling of our faults and failures is hard to hear. Those of us in leadership have learned to soften the blow of constructive criticism by preempting it with a compliment. Perhaps you use two or three compliments before offering criticism. The result always sounds like this: "you did great BUT..." A big but can be hard to get around sometimes (deleted image was here). What does our criticism sound like if we choose not to sugar coat things? I spent a day with a clinical therapist who told me that you need to walk a fine line between truth and grace when helping people deal with their issues. Too much grace (sugar) and people may fail to fix broken things. Too much truth (bitterness) and you can give an emotional beat down that leves people crippled.

An leader of the early Christian church wrote a letter to some followers of Jesus. The men and women of Ephesus were having some issues surrounding the maturity of their group. Some people were dividing the group by being harsh on the newer members. The author of the letter, Paul, gave them some instructions on how to raise up the newer members. He told them to speak the truth in love. He told them to balance truth and grace, sweetness and bitterness.

Find a balance of truth and grace when speaking to people. They need to be encouraged and built up. The also need to hear the (ugly) truth. If you withhold either one of these elements in your interactions with others you are not being fully helpful. I bet that you lean one way or the other when speaking to others. Be aware of your tendencies and help that medicine go down smooth without giving someone a cavity.

Brent Colby2 Comments