Changing The Narrative

Watching TV, reading the news, interacting with people, one thing has become obvious…we have lost the art of communication. Would you agree?

We argue before we listen. We prepare our defense before ever hearing the other side. We don’t seek to know the heart, but we seek to win the battle.

But, what if winning the battle comes at a cost? What if the cost is not just our ability to communicate, but our relationships and maybe even our integrity. Would winning be worth it? I don’t believe so, but what do I do?

I never took a course on how to have conversations. I can say “Let’s just agree to disagree”, but how do you do that in this ever increasing hostile environment?

I’m going to share 6 steps (3 today) I try to take to grow in my beliefs, have constructive conversations and deepen my relationships…yes, even with those who look, believe and vote vastly different than me. I’m not perfect at this, but here is what I seek to do.

One: Always Buy The First Cup Of Coffee

Before casting the first stone, let’s try buying the first cup of coffee. It’s so easy to judge people, disparage someone and even condemn someone without sitting across the table and getting to know their heart.

Getting to know their heart may not change your beliefs or your stance, but it should soften your heart toward the person. When you find out their experiences, their background, their hurt, their pain and how those things are influencing their decisions, their actions and their beliefs, it can give you sympathy for them.

Sympathy allows you to have compassion and love, two essential ingredients to healthy relationships.

Two: Remember Hurting People Hurt People

This is a truth that I have to keep in mind every time I see people hurting each other or when someone chooses to hurt me. Understanding that people who are hurting on the inside, many times, express that hurt and pain through hurting others, allows me to give sympathy toward people and pray for them, rather than getting angry and responding emotionally.

I’ve done it. I’ve allowed my own fear, pain, and hurt to come out toward my spouse, my kids, toward complete strangers.

If I want to grow as a person and choose to deepen my relationships, then I can’t get upset everytime someone does something I don’t like or agree with. I have to understand from politicians to my next door neighbor that if someone is doing something that is hurting someone else, that hurt is probably coming from their own place of hurt, a place I can pray for God to heal.

Three: Use Statements That Encourage Dialogue

Whenever we want to have a conversation with someone who believes differently than us, we have to use statements that encourage dialogue. Here are a few to try…

“Tell me more about that” – This challenges us to grow in our listening skills and choosing to seek understanding. It also encourages the other person by letting them know we actually care about what they believe.

“Having this conversation with you makes us stronger” – Anytime you are willing to have a conversation with someone who thinks differently than you, maybe it’s someone of a different religion or political persuasion, that conversation can lead to growth in both individuals. It doesn’t mean that your views will change, maybe they will be strengthened, but it will mean you will have growth.

“Would you be open to my opinion?” – Asking someone this question shows them that you aren’t going to shove your opinion down their throat, but if they are open, then you will share what you believe. It gives them respect, which is crucial in having healthy dialogue.

These are three of the six steps that can lead to personal growth, constructive conversations and healthy, deep relationships. If you are like me and you are tired of seeing the anger, the emotional outbursts and the lack of compassion, then let’s change the narrative. I can’t control others, but I can control myself…and I will seek to live out these three steps in all my relationships.

Stay tuned for the remaining 3 steps on Thursday. If you have any suggestions that can add to this conversation, I would love to hear it. Also, if this was of value to you, share it. It might just be of value to someone else.

One Response to “Changing The Narrative”

  • Cynthia Says:

    Thanks Ernest for your candid and transparent perspective.

    I love how you model honest and basic truths, I, an everyday girl, can follow.

    Thanks for starting the conversation and helping us all move forward in becoming better communicators. ~C

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