Wednesday, April 28, 2010

10 Commandments of Communication (Conflict)

Most every good idea I've ever had I stole from someone smarter than myself.  This post is no different.  This is a lesson on communication that Jason St. John teaches, and he claims to have stole most of it out of a magazine but he has no idea which one.

The main points are all his, the sub points are my commentary.  I think most of can relate to most if not all of these.

10 Commandments of Communication (Conflict)

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted & used against you!"  

Can you relate to that kind of a relationship?

JFK's famous line "Ich bin ein Berliner" can mean both "I'm a Berlin-person," or "I'm a jelly donut,". And I guess depending on how you take it could radically change the way you remember that speech!

Proverbs 12:18  says "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

Simply put: the words we use matter.  In fact the bible has all kinds of advice and warnings about our tongue and the impact of our words.  God even goes as far as saying they hold the power of “life and death”.  Sounds to me every bit as powerful as sticks and stones.   
Question for you: do you measure your words?  How easily do you throw around words like love, hate, never, and always?
When you’re emotional (angery, hurt, happy)  do you pay special attention to what comes out of your month or to what you write?  Or do you simple open your mouth and give a verbal green light to anything your emotions want to throw out there?
There is a difference between being “real” and being undisciplined and immature. Just like there is a  difference between being fake and having self control.  Just because we think it doesn't mean we should say it and just because we feel it doesn't make it right.
I think much or our stress in life comes from stress in relationships.  And I believe most of our stress in relationships comes from our immaturity, selfishness and inability to control our tongues. 
 Lets look at what the bible says about conflict and the right way to handle it... 

10 Commandments of Communication (Conflict)

Matt 18:15 “if your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault just between the two of you. If he listens then you have won your brother over.   

1.   If you have a problem with me, or anyone else, please come to me or them (privately).
             -don’t hide gossip behind the disguise of “prayer request.”  If you haven’t tried to talk it out don’t get other people involved.

2.   If I have a problem with you, I will come to you (privately).
             -this can be hard, but doing the tough thing up front will save you the drama in the end.

3.   If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send them to me.  I will do the same for you.

        -Matthew 18:16-17 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

4.   If someone consistently will not come to me, say, “Let’s go to him/her together.  I am sure they will talk to us about this.”

             -Pick as neutral a party as you can find. Not your best friend. You need a firefighter not an arsonist.

-“Treat them as a pagan or a tax collector” This doesn’t mean treat them poorly. (In fact Matthew himself was a ex-tax collector.) It means treat them with love but with caution because they are not following Christ and so they may not treat you like a brother.

5.   If you say to me “People are talking”. I will ask “Who”?  I would ask you to do the same to others.

             -3 John 1:10 So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us.

-If you just say; “people, then everyone who is a “people” is a suspect. It blows things out of proportion and creates paranoia.  If they wont say who, then “who” doesn’t matter. And if "who" really has an issue then refer to rules 1-3.

6.   I will not read or be swayed by unsigned letters.  If you send a signed letter don’t be surprised if I ask you to come and talk about it. (See rule 1)

   -Same concept as rule #5. If someone doesn't have the guts to put their name on a letter it's probably because they don't want the accountability that comes with a complaint.  The difference between a complainer and a concerned friend is that a friend will work toward a solution.

7.    If it is confidential do not tell others.  I will not tell other people unless (a) the person is going to harm himself/herself (b) the person is going to physically harm someone else (c) a child has been physically or sexually abused. I expect the same from you.

-Proverbs 11:13 A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

-This is actually not only sound biblical advice but it also happens to be Federal law. It's called being a "Mandatory Reporter".   If someone ever says to you "Promise you'll never tell!" then your default answer is "Nope. Sorry I can't make that promise and here's why..."  A true friend cares for you than for your friendship. As odd as that sounds.

8.   I will not manipulate people; I don’t want to be manipulated by others; don’t let others manipulate you.

             - Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

           -Self-explanatory.  If someone tries to manipulate you then they don't care about you. They care about themselves and simply want to use you to further their selfish desires. That s not the kind of person I want to be "friends" with.  

9.    Always feel free to ask any question you may have.

             -Relationships thrive on open communication. It's an absolute must have for any relationship to grow. The flip side of this is trust. A healthy relationship can ask any question, but only a control freak actually does. There is a time for asking tough questions and that time should be embraced. But there's also a time to simply trust. Learn the balance, live happier.  

10. Be careful of misinterpretations.

            -The story has been told of a person who had purchased a small package of cookies at an airport before her flight. She sat down to wait for the time to board the plan and began to read a newspaper. Gradually, she became aware of a noise coming from the seat next to her. From behind her paper, she was stunned to see a man helping himself to her cookies. Not wanting to make a scene, but wanting the man to know she noticed him, she reached down and took a cookie for herself. A few moments went by, and she heard more rustling. She looked down to see the man taking another cookie. So, she reached down and took another cookie as well. Finally, she watched the man take the last cookie, break it in half and push the other half over to her. He ate the half-cookie, got up and left. The woman was furious! Later, on the plane, the woman opened her handbag and was both shocked and embarrassed to find her package of unopened cookies.
-If something seems out of character or out of nowhere, you probably don’t know the whole story or misunderstood the intentions. Take the time to clarify a persons intentions before you pass judgments. 

         -Look for ways to make peace, not pick fights.  If you are going to make assumptions, then make the assumption that they didn't mean to tick you off.  Or that they are just having a bad day.  Give people the extra grace you'd like them to extend to you. 

So what do you think? 

Anything you would change? 

Anything you would add?  

Any experiences that back up some of these communication commandments?

Monday, April 26, 2010

In the beginning

I once read a story about a young boy who was outside playing with a baseball and a bat.  The boy exclaimed "I'm the greatest hitter in the world!", then threw the ball into the air, swung with all his might and totally whiffed.  "Strike one." he muttered.

Undaunted he retrieved the ball, once again proclaimed "I'm the greatest hitter in all the world!", tossed the ball into the air and swung for the fences! And once again his bat found nothing but air.  "Strike two."

A bit frustrated, but persevering he grabbed the elusive baseball and steadied himself for a third try.  "I'm the greatest hitter in the world!" he said as he again tossed the ball into the air. For a third straight time his swing missed the ball completely. 

Standing there looking down at the untarnished baseball his frustrated little face suddenly turned to a smile...   He raised his hands to the sky and boldly proclaimed "I'm the greatest pitcher in the world!"

I love that story.  Something about me connects with the theme of undying optimism and the dare to dream big.

If you're anything like me you've found that life isn't all success, happiness, sunshine and lollipops.  In fact most of the sunshine I've found is the result of doing my best to ride out a storm or two.   Usually my hardest storms are self imposed as my own selfishness and lack of wisdom teach me the hard lessons my thick skull didn't want to learn the easy way.

And yet in spite of my painfully obvious limitations and thickheadedness God has found a way to encourage, challenge and call me to never settle for less than His best for my life.  He has blessed me with a precious family, a beautiful wife and soon to be four perfect little boys.   Far more than I deserve.

I think that's why I want to blog.  Because for me (and maybe for you) life isn't lived in the great moments of success or in the frustrating moments of failure, but rather in the journey and the lessons that are found in between.  Maybe life is less about what we accomplish and more about who we impact on the journey.  Maybe it's about the ability to dream big, whif big, learn and move on.  

So I guess more than just a source of wisdom or a tool to teach, I hope this is going to be a sort of streaming real time update of what I'm learning.  Hopefully you'll be able to pick up something along the way. 

God bless!