Do you just LOVE the negative environment you’re in? Enjoying the constant complaining, criticizing, and condemning that’s going on?
I didn’t think so…
Wish you could change the atmosphere?
You know the feeling, sitting around the dinner table, everyone talking about their day, but instead of a “this is what happened to me,” in a positive light, it’s more of a “you won’t believe what so-and-so said/did,” and please add the “you idiot” tone of voice. You want to connect, so you chime in with something positive, “Well, at least it wasn’t (insert other horrible thing),” which doesn’t help, because even though your heart is in the right place, you are positive arguing (and people then get more defensive and argue back – think about it, has it worked?) Bottom line, you’re still adding more negative vibe, and that’s not what you want, is it?
What if you could impact your family with the application of a few simple sentences? What if you changed the way you interacted and could be more effective as a communicator? Here’s just a small tip, give it a try, and let me know how it goes…
*Update* But before we get started, please check your tone! This post is written with the intent of a bit of humor, but I’m not suggesting you assume the position of all-knowing counselor or parent, but rather you choose a position of inquisitiveness, genuine and sincere interest in the other person – yes that is my Dale Carnegie Trainer coming out, and yes, you will have to actually choose to be interested and genuine sometimes! Your tone should be soft, interested, and not at all condescending. I was told in the comments that my attempt at humor comes across as corrective, so I amended this post a bit to help with that. Probably won’t be trying that again any time soon LOL 😂
Instead of disagreeing with your cast of complainers, do these two things in order:
- Empathize – remember this is the articulation of the other person’s experience, NOT agreement. It’s an advanced communication skill. “That’s lousy,” or, “UGH! That was hard!” and, “How are you feeling about that?” then listen and give more genuine empathy. Please note that we are loving well when we remember that ALL of God’s children are precious to Him – so check your heart and ask Him for help if this feels at all insincere. We should actually be interested in another’s point of view, lest we think we are the expert. Who knows what we can learn here?
- Ask a Hopeful Question – this moves the person from their miserable past in to a more positive potential future. “What would you like to happen next time?” or, “What would you like to see instead?” are both good options. “How would you have liked it to have gone?” or, “”What were you hoping for instead of what happened?” Then listen. Empathize. If they cycle back into the negative again, rinse well, repeat.
Let me know how it goes!
Can I trouble you to please pray for me and the ministry? I’m working on a new experience for wives, well, honestly all communicators, but you know I care a lot about marriage! And if you want to learn how to have these skills play out in an impactful way, consider joining us at our Deflating Defensiveness Women’s Retreat this summer. If you have a tough marriage or parenting situation, if you lead women’s ministry or are a pastor’s wife, or if you just need some negotiation skills for your crazy worklife, you might benefit from the skill set to turn conflict into connection. Pray about it, and join us if you feel led. And if you’re a pastor’s wife, please choose the group rate option. 🙂
Love to you,