Weeding our Love Garden
(These are notes from a message I gave to our community at our weekly meeting. Much of the following material was gleaned from the book, Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson.)
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. (Jn 13:35)
Just a few days earlier, James and John had asked for privilege and prominence above the others and when the 10 heard about it, they were very angry. (Mark 10:35-41)
How did Jesus have faith for that?
- He knew what depth of humility their failures on the following weekend would bring.
- He knew the Holy Spirit would impart a new spirit of love. (Watchmen)
- He knew his example would prevail: patience, kindness, rebuke, encouragement, forgiveness, kindness, the acts of a servant.
I recently spent an entire day weeding the small allotment behind Hospitality. I hadn’t pulled any weeds for about 6 weeks and it was over-run.
Our relationships need very regular weeding. How do we weed them??
Acts of kindness
Words of affection
Most of all, honest conversations
Some of those conversations are what could be called Crucial Conversations
- Differences in opinions – or at least you think so.
- Stakes are high
- Emotions are likely to be strong
When a situation arises that needs a crucial conversation, we often blow it before we even start:
- We distance ourselves, avoid the other person, not engaging in any conversations with substance.
- We let the emotion sweep us into confrontation without preparation.
- We enter the conversation to let them know how we feel and make sure they know they have been wrong. We plan to win an argument.
We are sure our “story” is true and right.
A STORY is what I tell myself when I think I have seen facts. People cannot escape filling in the blanks about what is going on, assuming motives in the other person, tending to create scapegoats, malevolent purposes etc. AVOID holding on to such stories. Even the “facts” can appear differently from another person’s perspective.
We are “dot connectors” and rarely will two people connect the dots the same, particularly when the issue gives rise to emotions.
This is where judging comes in.
Keep reminding yourself that their story will almost certainly be different than yours and it might even be closer to reality.
To have a successful crucial conversation, I MUST FIRST SEEK TO UNDERSTAND THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD.
I MUST BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN PEOPLE DISAGREE WITH ME OR APPEAR TO DISAPPROVE OF ME OR MY BEHAVIOUR. Do not push harder, do not start exaggerating or making up “facts”; do not use force of personality or over-confident persuasion.
I MUST BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN I THINK I AM THE ONLY PERSON WHO UNDERSTANDS. WATCH OUT WHEN I THINK I AM THE DEFENDER OF TRUTH OR WHAT IS RIGHT. (I am probably just defending my ego.) This will only create opposition. Note when I am leaning forward, talking more forcefully, cutting others off etc…..
WATCH OUT WHEN MY “STORY” THAT MAKES ME FEEL SELF-RIGHTEOUS OR SUPERIOR. That is when I become unbearable and even dangerous to others.
If the conversation becomes heated, back off and let the adrenaline drain away. (Disagreement produces adrenaline to aid us in either fight or flight. This an inescapable physical reality.)
I CAN HOLD ONTO MY BELIEF EVEN WHILE I SOFTEN MY APPROACH.
Ask good questions. Like, “How did you feel at that point? or, “Tell me how you see it.” or, “what would you like me to know?”
Paraphrase their response back to them so they know they have been understood.
Do your best to read their body language and engage them with yours. Be careful to display openness. For example, don’t lean back and fold your arms across your chest when they are speaking.
You may need to prime the pump (eg. Do you feel we were unfair with you? Do you feel that I don’t want you here?).
If the adrenalin is running, we might even need to discontinue that conversation and come back to it when emotions have died down.
That is also the time when the second step of Matthew 18 might become necessary: Anyone remember what that is?
vs. 16: If the initial one-on-one is unsuccessful, you take one or two witnesses and try again. (Find a person or persons who are okay with both of you.)
Note that this implies that you do not spread your dispute to others. You go to the person.
KEEP REMEMBERING THAT MY PATH IS NOT NECESSARILY MORE RIGHT THAN THEIRS.
Are you aware of weeds in your love garden? Do you need a crucial conversation, or maybe more than one?