I had one of those "hmm" conversations with a friend of mine today. The kind where you think you say what you mean but upon reflection you wonder if that's what was heard? Or did you say it right? Or was what you said even right at all?
We were discussing that fine line between building relationships, telling people what they want to hear (brown-nosing), and telling people no. Basically, nobody wants to hear 'no' but I was trying to explain there were tactful ways to tell someone no, while maintaining/building that relationship. What I didn't clarify in that conversation is that I didn't mean to brown-nose.
I had to give some thought to the difference between brown-nosing, telling someone what they want to hear versus holding a position, defending it but not offending anyone. I think the difference in these is the motive and the sincerity behind it. If we seek to deceive or save face or avoid confrontation, these are not sincerely motivated. If we can correct, redirect and try to get along with others while we do it, this is the best path. It's honest but kind. There are verses to support this. Here are just a few.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore
that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.
II Thessalonians 3:15
That last one is a tough one. I know one more than one occasion I have become upset or frustrated with someone and mentally saw them as being 'on the other side' or a someone against me. In truth, we are all just people and we have our own agendas. We often let those agendas get in the way of relationships and that is where the problems occur. If we can step back and focus on the relationship part first, I believe the agendas will fall into place much better.
I'm a writer... so that means I write a bunch. Blogs are just the pieces that never make it into the final cut.