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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Here’s What Happens When You Name The Important

A couple weeks back Zerrin and I were in Oshkosh, Wisconsin teaching PLEDGEtalk at Lifest. As I began, I told everyone that what they were about to hear wouldn’t be new. In fact once they heard the PLEDGEtalk principles for healthy communication, they would immediately recognize that what I was saying was true.

Truths we all know:

  • It is good to take a moment to consider what we are about to say before we say it. We hope others would do the same for us! (PAUSE)
  • When we talk about anything important, we want others to really listen. (LISTEN)
  • We also want others to really consider what it is we are saying – perhaps even reflect back what they hear us saying so we know for sure they heard us. (ECHO)
  • It helps a lot when someone validates what we say–to let us know they at least understand and don’t think we are crazy for feeling the way we do! (DISARM/VALIDATE)
  • Because of common sense, we also know the importance of giving each other a turn in the conversation. Interrupting each other isn’t helpful. We both can’t talk at the same time! (GIVE)
  • Finally, we know that it would be good to practice using each of the above principles all the time, not just whenever we feel like it–because we may never feel like it! (ENGAGE)

But there’s a problem with this.

Even though we know the principles to be true we rarely use them.


Some days we just don’t care or we think we are too busy to take the time. Other times our emotions are so high that the thinking part of our brain doesn’t work. We don’t even recall or think about why should do.

But there’s another reason – it has to do with naming.

When you name something it brings clarity, direction, and empowers you to use it.

Think of an area of life in which you received some coaching. When I was in college I took a golf class.

I can’t remember for sure, but before I took the class, I don’t think I had ever been on a golf course, so I had very little knowledge about the sport. It wasn’t too long however, before I was out on the green enjoying the game.

Each time I stepped up to the ball, I went through a list of specific tips I had learned from class on how to stand, swing, and follow through.

Because I had been trained in specifics, they were in the forefront of my mind every time I swung!

Our teacher had named each step we would need to become a good golfer. I had clarity and direction on what I needed to do. I was empowered to hit the ball straight and far.

When it comes to communication and conflict resolving, we know in the back of our heads at least some of what works. BUT–because so very few of us have ever had any formal training or modeling in what makes for good communication, the principles remain in the back of our heads where they lie dormant.

We must NAME the principles of healthy communication and NAME the process we can use to work through conflict.

When we do, it will provide clarity and direction, and empower people to use the principles to better their relationships in marriage and family, in friendships, and in the workplace.

That is why we share with everyone the simple power of PLEDGEtalk.

When we learn the principles well, they will move from the back of our heads to the front, enabling us to use them each day so that we might improve each of our relationships.

My challenge for you:

If you haven’t seen the video series we recently released on the PLEDGEtalk principles, go HERE. In these videos I name what needs to happen to make good conversation and to work through conflict. We are offering the videos for FREE, for a limited time.

And don’t forget to stay in touch with us by liking our new PLEDGEtalk Facebook page HERE. I will be posting helpful tips and videos on PLEDGEtalk as well as sharing real life experiences with Zerrin and I. Hope to see you there!

Like our PLEDGEtalk Facebook page HERE!