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A Simple Way To Increase Respect In Your Relationships:

You and I both learned an important life lesson at a very early age: take turns.

If you have children you teach it all the time. One is playing with a toy, when another child comes along and grabs it because he wants to play with it. The first child cries or reacts in anger as she grabs the toy back, and a fight quickly ensues. As fast as we can, we jump in between the children and say: “you two need to take turns!”

How does this relate to better communication at work and at home?

At Work With Your Team:

Think back on your last team meeting. What went well? What didn’t?

Two way communication is critical for a team to succeed – where everyone understands the importance of each one sharing AND listening. All too often before one person has the chance to finish what they are saying, another jumps in on top of them with a different thought. Soon another does the same and another. Ideas, even good ones, are missed because people aren’t taking turns really listening to each other. Even when someone is able to share their entire thought without being interrupted, a very similar experience occurs as soon as there is silence – someone quickly jumps in to share their idea and then another follows suit and another.

What if there was a different norm? A question or idea is brought to the group’s attention, for the purpose of discussion and gaining further insight. The first person speaks up and has everyone else’s full attention. When finished speaking, it is obvious others are reflecting on what has been said. Questions are asked of the speaker to clarify or draw out additional ideas. Important takeaways are duly noted before someone else takes their turn to share an idea.

For communication to take place at its best, a team leader must foster a culture where each person is invited to speak and experience the respect of everyone else through intentional listening. Only then will mutual respect be experienced by all, and the optimal environment be in place to gain the most from the time together.

In team meetings or small groups, we must take turns – both speaking AND listening.

Today With Your spouse:

Tonight when you greet each other, take turns sharing about the day. Don’t be so eager to tell about your day that you cut the other person off in the middle of them telling about theirs. Listen intently instead. By doing so you are showing respect to your spouse.

Tonight With Your Kids:

Practice with your children as well. Give your full attention to them when you see them after school. Then ask them for a few moments of their time and attention as you share with them some about your day too. Being deliberate to do this will teach your children how taking turns when communicating is a way of showing respect to others. It will help them with friends and go along way in preparing them one day with a future mate and family.

Whenever In Conflict:

Perhaps nowhere is the need to take turns more apparent than when in conflict. It is a must. Each person is angry or hurt for some reason. Critical to solving that conflict is the act of giving each other an opportunity to share their side, while we listen to truly understand and appreciate their perspective.

Today and this weekend – practice and model taking turns when in dialogue with your team, your spouse, and your children.

Simple.

But powerful.

It will deepen mutual respect!

Now do this with me quickly – leave a short phrase or sentence below telling me one place today where you are going to put this into practice. Let’s encourage each other right now by writing it down in the comment section below:

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3 Important Musts When You are Angry

I have been doing a lot of thinking about anger lately. Maybe it’s because of how often I wrestle with the emotion myself. I also see it frequently in the couples I counsel, as well as in people’s lives in general. And finally, I am sure it is because of hearing our son say on our recent visit with him, that he feels like we weren’t very honest with each other about anger in our family. That gave me pause to think!

I have to be honest–it also made me angry. At least a little. I was thinking to myself: What? This is what I do for a living – help people work through the anger in their relationships! But I think what he said was true. Alas, I keep learning!!

Anger is a primary emotion we all experience to one degree or another at various times.

If you think you never get mad or angry you are only fooling yourself. I mean that quite literally. We may call it by different terms like frustration or irritation. We might say someone has gotten under our skin or ruffled our feathers. We say such things to minimize our experience of anger, even as we are already trying to control it. These are all however, a form of anger.

Is anger good or bad? It is neither. It simply is. It can lead to good or it can lead to bad. That’s the more important matter.

Anger can lead to good when a person is mad over an injustice being committed and the anger motivates him or her to do something that benefits others. Anger can lead to good when a person has it under control and engages in necessary conversation to bring about health in a relationship. Anger in control can further the good of society or relationships.

Anger can lead to bad when it is expressed by a person who is out of control and self-focused. Wounded feelings, broken relationships, abuse, violence, war, and even death are the result.

Anger out of control brings destruction by serving one’s own purposes.

Let’s review: I get angry; you get angry. Our anger can lead to good, or bad. Which it is depends upon whether or not we are in control or out of control, and if we are using it to benefit others or ourselves.

Decide NOW before the next time you are angry: Do you want to be known as someone with self-control or out of control? Someone who benefits others or wounds them?

I assume your answer would be the same as mine: we want to be people with self-control and people who benefit others rather than wound them. Still, it is important that we think hard on this. Agreeing to this is easy; living it out takes a great deal of effort.

There are three musts: be strong, be courageous, and remember the golden rule.

First, be strong and walk away if you are about to hurt someone. It takes only seconds to wound someone with your words, but it can take a lifetime to heal that wound! (tweet this!)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21 KJV

Second, when ready, be courageous enough to be honest with others about what you are feeling and why–in the hope of bettering those relationships. Before you do, I would strongly recommend you read or re-read my last blog, What Do You Do With the Mad?

“…speak the truth, in love…” Ephesians 4:15 NLT

And third, remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you plan to speak to someone about your anger, think of how you would hope that same someone would speak to you if the roles were reversed. Would you hope they would give some thought to what they would say ahead of time? That they would deliver their message with some degree of self-restraint? Then do the same for them.

“…be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry…” James 1:19 NIV

What would you add as a MUST to keep in mind when angry? Leave a comment below!

What Do You Do With the Mad?

It would be a dream job for anyone to have a truly supportive boss, and co-workers where everyone gets along. So often however, that kind of reverie isn’t a reality. More often it is just the opposite. Take Michael for instance, who found himself increasingly angry at his boss, though unsure as to why. One day he caught himself readying to snap at him. Fortunately he remembered to Pause before he did. But what then?

People often ask me: “what do you do with the mad?”

It’s a great question.

What DO we do with the mad when we are mad?

First it is crucial to become aware of whatever it is you are feeling and name it–in this case, mad.

I find that most people – even me at times – have a hard time admitting that they are mad. It’s like it is bad to be mad. We may be put out, miffed, irritated, or even frustrated, but mad? No way.

So first we must admit what is going on inside of us and name it for what it is. This gives us the ability to deal with it accurately.

Admit it. Name it. You are mad.

Next.

Sort out the why.

What was going on in you, around you, and between you and others the moment you were about to lash out? Have you experienced the same feelings other times in similar situations with the same people or others? What happened that caused the mad feelings to erupt? It is crucial to be able to explain the why, first to yourself.

Take a pen and paper and write out the answers to the above questions. Writing helps us sort out what is going on inside. It also anchors our thinking so we can go back and reflect on what we have come to understand.

After writing out the answers, re-read what you wrote to see if you need to clarify or add anything that might be missing.

Reflect on what you wrote. Does it make sense to you? Does it help explain why you were mad? If not, go back once again to think and write more on the questions above. Continue working on this step, until you can sit back and say to yourself: “OK. That makes sense now. I can see why I was mad.” This is very important. It validates that you were mad and why. You were not crazy. There were reasons you felt the way you did. It also brings clarity to what happened and what you need to address in your mind or with others.

Only after you sort out the why to the mad feelings, will you be ready to consider what to do with the mad.

If you are a follower of Christ, take time to reflect, talk to God about the why behind your mad, and then listen. Maybe the idea of forgiveness comes to mind. Maybe He reminds you how patient He is with you, and wants you to show the same kind of patience with another. Maybe on the other hand, you sense God nudging you to talk about your mad and why. This becomes much easier if you have already written out the reasons you are mad–as in the exercise above.

Maybe God reminds you of the verse in the Bible that says: “Speak the truth–in love” (Ephesians 4:15). God gives you courage to speak out but also coaches you to do it in the most loving way possible. Keep in mind Philippians 2:3 where it says: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” When we speak with another about our being mad–we must regard them highly, even more important than ourselves! That implies that we show restraint and respect in the way we relate. We tell the truth–we have been angered at what has taken place–but we tell them with respect, to show honor and to love.

If you are not a follower of Christ, you might still come up with similar ideas when reflecting on what to do with your mad. Think: what would LOVE do with anger like you have? What would you want someone to do with you, if they were mad at you? How would you want them to approach you telling you they are mad?

Then proceed. Take whatever action seems to be in line with truth, love, and approaching others with high regard.

By way of summary, consider one further interesting note: if you look closely at the steps above, you will see that they fall in line with the steps of PLEDGEtalk. When processing your mad or any other emotions, you are basically practicing the use of PLEDGEtalk with yourself. See example of being mad below:

You become aware of being out of sorts so:

  1. You (Pause) to stop and anchor your thinking by writing out what is the reason(s) you are mad;
  2. You (Listen) by re-reading what you wrote to clarify any points or add anything missing;
  3. You (Echo) by reflecting on what was written;
  4. You (Disarm) by affirming/validating why you were feeling the way you were;
  5. You (Give) God or LOVE time to speak back to you what you need to learn, hear, and see–even from another perspective;
  6. You (Engage) by using all that you have written and learned about your situation from God and/or LOVE to enable you to move forward in your relationships and to address issues/concerns in good ways.

The next time you feel out of sorts, don’t react. Take a few minutes instead to work the PLEDGEtalk steps with yourself and learn what to do with your mad!

What questions do you have about the process above? Leave your comments below.

It’s Not Natural!

“It’s not natural…it doesn’t feel authentic.”

That’s the kind of remark I hear people say about PLEDGEtalk every once in awhile. And I agree…but only sort of. Here’s what I mean:

Most conversations whether they are superficial in nature, serious in content, or conflict driven, could be described as nothing more than volleying. In lighter talk, people people toss out an idea or describe an event, and someone else comes back with another idea or event in their life. Another thought is quickly thrown into the mix and then another. The game is on! Very similar dialogue takes place when in conflict, only much more intense and damaging.

In this sense, the principles of PLEDGEtalk are not “natural.” In conversations such as above, people rarely pause to think about what they are saying, much less listen to what someone else is saying. And if you are familiar with PLEDGEtalk at all, you know how important it is that we Pause and we Listen.

So I agree. It is not natural – on the one hand.

But on the other hand…I completely disagree.

PLEDGEtalk is very natural – to the appetite of our soul! Deep inside we know it satisfies.

Why do I say that?

Because PLEDGEtalk is the way we want others to communicate with us.

Stop and think a moment: would you rather someone just spew out of their mouth whatever they are thinking however they want regardless of the effect it might have? Or would you appreciate them giving some thought to what and how they communicate when it really matters? If you say the latter, then you know how good and right it is for us to Pause before we speak – even if it is but for a moment.

Think about your friends and family members. Are any of them good listeners? What’s it like for you when you have the opportunity to speak to them? If you are like me, you think: “This is so nice. And so rare.” When you speak, you want someone to listen – really listen – or you would never speak in the first place. You appreciate their time and focus. It feels wonderful. You know that Listening well is also good and right.

I could talk through each of the other steps of PLEDGEtalk in the same manner. It is helpful – at least at times – when someone echoes back to clarify what you say. It is satisfying when they validate your ideas before dishing out theirs. And conversations are much more rich when we give each other a turn to speak rather than interrupt and steal the conversation.

Yes – PLEDGEtalk principles are natural – to the appetite of the soul.

In the words of my son who wrote the Foreward to my book:

The PLEDGEtalk principles “…can be considered both menu and guide to a dinner table of conflict… Over time we manage to stop rushing through arguments and choking down confrontations. We remember that the PLEDGEtalk process itself occurs in courses (as some may want to read this book). And powered by healthy communication practices, we begin to once again find the joy in dining. We recognize that the hot dish provides nourishment to our souls. Here we become stronger versions of ourselves and are graced with the companionship of those we hold most dear.”

Well said Micah!

Take one more moment and remind yourself of what you would wish from others:

  • That they would Pause and think before they speak
  • That they would Listen to really understand you
  • That they would Echo back – at least at times, to be sure they heard you correctly
  • That they would Disarm conflict by validating what you said
  • That both would Give each other a turn to speak rather than interrupting
  • That both would Engage in these principles all the time – even when not in conflict.

The PLEDGEtalk principles are what you and I long for most when others communicate with us.

Here is your challenge: Now do unto others what you would have them do unto you!!

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