Had a wonderful time at Restoration Church yesterday.
Jackie and I shared together talking about contrasts and communication.
Here is the essence of what we shared.
It's clean - wear it Does it match? Accessorize
Three colleges High School
Planner, charter Spontaneous, "get er done"
Use lots of words.. Talk with force
...well after we got through this and more we were all laughing a lot.
We all have lots of contrasts to deal with in our significant relationships. And the Bible reminds us:
Romans 12:16 instructs this way:
Live in harmony with each other. Do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded), but readily adjust yourselves to people and things and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits."
So, when we have conflicts, often we need help to make the talk-through constructive. Without that we can so easily hurt each other, say things we later deeply regret and make very little progress on resolve...in fact deepen the rift.
What are some real keys to good communication?
#1 - A time to communicate.
When we have energy, mental focus and readiness (that means heart preparation and spiritual strength) - we are obviously here dealing with tough times in communication, when the issue is complex or the emotional reammifications are pretty big. The time to communicate is NOT when you get home from work, when you are tired at the end of the day, when you are on your way to church, when you are under a lot of other stressor pressures. Choose the opposites of those just named, to pick up a good time to communicate - like when you have had a good rest, when you are off for the day, when heading home from church and have been built up and encouraged..etc. And allow for an amount of time that will let you talk at length if you sense that is needed.
We have found it is really good to deal with a complex, emotionally-laden subject by setting up an appointment to talk...that gives each other a chance to think and pray and sort out stuff prior.
#2 - A place to communicate.
Not in front of the family...even the toddler. Not where others can overhear you. Not where you can be disturbed suddenly.....but choose a "private" place where people are close enough to put a bit of control on your manner of conversation, but not close enough to overhear anything you are saying. Like Paneras, or Famous Dave's ...or...
#3 - A way to communicate.
Here is a simple method that can be available at any time to use:
a. Use an object that you can imagine doubles as a mike...like a pen - but anything will work.
b. whoever is holding the object has the floor...they (alone) can speak and be heard - in fact, they must not be interrupted.
c. begin by determining who will start and pass the object to them.
d. the person holding the object talks without being interrupted and continues till they are done (signified by their saying so and handing the "mike" object to the person who has been really listening)
e. the person who has just received the "mike" object begins by summarizing what they think they just heard
f. the first speaker affirms what was just said, and offers any correction if that is really needed (keep using the "mike" object through this phase)
g. then the first listener gets a turn holding the "mike" object and speaking what they have to say about the matter in discussion
as this proceeds there is always a speaker who can speak at the pace and length they feel comfortable with, a listener who summarizes for clarity, and a safe process that can go on until the communication process is felt by both to be complete or at least complete for this time.
This method might be needed to be worked a number of times before sufficient resolve is achieved, but almost always even from the start, it controls negative outbursts, words said that really hurt deeply and it offers a guarantee that both parties will be careful in speech, be heard when they do speak and progress will be made in communicating well.
Ephesians 4:29-32 says..
"Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps...each word a gifts.
Don't grieve God. Don't break His heart...His Holy Spirit moving and breathing in you is the most intimate part of your life and He's making you fit for Himself.
So make a clean break with all cutting and backbiting and profane talk. Be gentle and sensitive with one another. Forgive one another as quickly and as thoroughly as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Jackie then told a story about she and Jess...when Jess came home all excited about being invited to the prom and all Jackie could think about were the costs, and process and dress-up and more....and she became quickly negative. It led to ill-will and hurt, until there was confession and a request by Mom to "have a do over."
With that Jess went back outside and came back in with the same bubbling words about the prom. They literally began again. They are best friends to this day.
So..."work at getting along with each other and with God." Hebrews 12:5
A final thought...studies at the University of Chicago uncovered a "negativity bias" that is part of most of us...it is that our brains are actually more sensitive and responsive to unpleasant news than pleasant news. That is why criticisms and unpleasant news hits us harder and stays with us longer than good news.
In fact they have discovered that while working relationships can do ok with a 2/1 ratio of encouragement to correction and negatives....intimate and family relationships require much more, even a 5 to 1 ratio of kindness and love to correction and concern. We are called to be a people that bless and speak kindness and love with frequency.
And we ended with this blessing:
May you be patient with one another, kind, constructive, attentive to the needs of those who are around you.
May your affirmations far outweigh your instructions and especially your criticisms.
May you be skillful in looking for the best and always doing your best to bring it out in others.
May your homes be safe places, filled with encouragement, and aswim with forgiveness and grace.
The Lord bless you and give you the gift of getting along with each other at all times in all ways.
And may the Master be truly among you.
God be with us all today.