Heated arguments. Conflict. Anger. Perhaps the reason why fighting is “good” for married or dating couples is because of the honesty that it brings. Maybe when we say that fighting is good, what we really mean is honesty is good. The truth of how another person feels is what we are after, and if the truth has to come through an argument, than so be it, but I don’t think that has to be the case. Humility can walk hand in hand with honesty… At least I think.
I worked for two years in a call center for a youth ministry here in the United States. With the experiences that come with a job where you talk to people all day, I have come across what I feel are a few keys to clear communication.
I. Keep your mouth closed and your ears open. It’s okay not to talk, just be quiet, be still (unless you’re the guy reporting the weather). Listen to whoever it is that’s talking and remember what they said.
II. give the other person room to breath, meaning don’t jump in with a comment the moment they stop talking. Try waiting about three seconds before saying anything (don’t count out loud).
III. Reiterate what they are saying, sounding something like this: “So, let me make sure this is what you are trying to say: blah blah blah. Does that sound right?” (Don’t use the words blah blah blah though)
IV. Be respectful and be polite, it may go farther than you think. These words have been incredibly helpful for me throughout the years “May I tell you what I think?” If they say yes, than go for it, but if they have the audacity to say no, than simply go back to listening.
V. Don’t be afraid to apologize, or admit the possibility that you are wrong. Be sorry that they are upset and ask what’s troubling them. If they are accusing you of something, be gentle and ask them for specifics.
VI. Let them have the last word, ending the conversation. This one may be the hardest. Though you may not have the feeling that they completely understand you in the end, remember that they are going to feel the same if you don’t let them have the last word.
Keep in mind with this post that if you expect other people to do these things while you refrain from doing them, you are bound to get nowhere. I’ve noticed that everyone does whatever feels good in the moment while expecting everyone else to do what should be done. Silly huh? If you commit to doing this (like I’m doing right now) for at least a week, you will see results. Go for two weeks even. The first step is going to be the hardest.
Don’t worry. Frustration, like all other emotions, will pass faster than the guilt of snapping back at someone.
Proverbs 25:15, 15:1