Lesson Eight: Healthy Communication


One reason people don’t work through conflict in healthy ways is that they simply don’t know how.

People come into the church and bring their unhealthy ways of relating with them. Normally, that’s not a problem. Most people have no trouble navigating the day-to-day give and take of life. Typically, they fare rather well until they’ve been hurt. Then they resort to managing their conflict the best that they know how. Usually, that’s ineffective, if not downright dysfunctional.

However, there’s a better way. In this session, we’ll look at five different elements of a healthy conflict management conversation. We’ll start with the opener.

The Opener

How you begin your conversation to resolve conflict is an important part in whether or not you’ll achieve a positive outcome. The very best way to begin is by avoiding a harsh start.

When you’re hurt, frustrated or disappointed with another, it’s easy to vent your feelings by beginning a conversation with a harsh start. That’s one of the quickest ways to create defensiveness.

Here are some ways to begin with a harsh start:

  • Blame
  • Accusation
  • Criticism
  • Put down
  • Sarcasm
  • Assaults on another’s character or motives
  • And more

These two statements can help you get off on the right foot:

  1. My relationship with you is important to me.
  2. I need your help with a problem I’m having.

Think about it. Your relationship with the other person is important to you. Even if your personalities clash, the Lord expects you to love your brothers and sisters. After all, he does. So, your relationship with them is important.

Second, your hurt is your problem. Sure. They caused it, but your hurt is your problem to resolve effectively. Nobody else owns the responsibility to resolve it for you.

Taylor is off to a good start in resolving her problem with Destiny. She has avoided a harsh start, and she reassured Destiny that she values their relationship. Asking Destiny to help her resolve this problem was a smart move.

Before we go further down this path, we need to know where we’re going. Sure. We’re seeking to resolve our hurt, but resolution is not about:

  • Getting the other person to agree with your perspective.
  • Proving you’re right and they’re wrong.
  • Getting your way

The only destination worth pursing when resolving your hurt is: Seeking to be heard, understood, and respected.

Sure, when it comes to matters of doctrinal orthodoxy and moral integrity, you’re seeking for the other person to repent and embrace core biblical truth. But in this course, we’re exploring how to deal with personal hurt effectively. To resolve that, you need to use a proven strategy

The “XYZ+” Statement

The XYZ+ Statement is a good way to communicate your hurt in a non-blaming, self-disclosing way. Let’s see how it works.

The X Portion

The X portion of the statement begins with a simple description of what the person did without communicating any judgment or blame on your part.

Note how Taylor does it: A couple weeks ago in our planning meeting, I brought up some ideas that you didn’t give—what I thought—was a fair hearing.

Notice that she is not blaming or condemning Destiny. She is just stating the facts of what happened. Next, she moves on to the Y portion of the statement.

The Y Portion

With the Y portion, Taylor discloses how what Destiny did impacted her. She says: As a result, I began to question my value to the team.

Note that it takes a certain amount of self-awareness to pinpoint how what another does impacts you. We’re not talking emotions at this point. The focus is on impact. Here are some examples of other impact statements:

  • That makes it hard to do my job.
  • That overruns our budget.
  • That means more work for me.
  • That puts me in a difficult position with my superior.
  • That’s not how I agreed to help.
  • That leaves me questioning if I matter or am important.

Give some thought to it. And you’ll be able to identify how what they did has impacted you.

The Z Portion

Next, use just one word to describe how you feel as a result of what happened. Don’t say:

  • I feel like…
  • You made me feel…
  • I feel that…

Just say: And I felt…

Feelings are normally just one word. If you’re having a hard time identifying your feelings, look over this chart and see if you can come up with one.

Identify Your Feelings

Taylor has done a good job of crafting her XYZ+ Statement. She just needs to add one more thing.

The Plus Portion

Once you’ve developed your XYZ+ Statement, be sure to clarify what you expect in the future. Make it realistic and specific. Take a look at how Taylor wraps up her XYZ+ Statement. She says: All I’m asking is that in the future my ideas are given a fair hearing. It would help me, if you would ask if I’m good before moving on. That would mean a lot.


Taylor has done a good job at formulating her XYZ+ Statement. However, things seldom go so smoothly in reality, as we’re about to see.​

Destiny is about to take a detour. It’s a good thing that Taylor knows what to do next.

Get Some Practice with This Activity Sheet

[s3mm type=”file” files=”activity-sheets/xyz-activity.pdf”][/s3mm]

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Bonus Content (Premium Subscribers Only)

The XYZ+ Statement

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Click to download a copy of the questions.

[s3mm type=”file” files=”questions/questions-lesson-8.pdf”][/s3mm]

[s3mm type=”file” files=”questions/questions-lesson-8.pdf”]Download[/s3mm]

The Big Idea

By using the “XYZ Plus” Statement, you can tell another about what’s going on inside of you without resorting to blame or accusation. The best way to lead into your “XYZ Plus” Statement is by avoiding a harsh start.