I’d like to have us consider that our first line of thought should be: Let’s CONNECT!!!!
Let’s start out in GENERAL, and in REAL LIFE. This blog is for every single one of us, and also for those friends on the special needs Unexpected Journey, these tips and ideas will work very well for you as well…(think teachers, IEP’s, meetings, doctors, etc.) but this will work in all relationships…so join this little journey of figuring out how to best connect with others rather than being confrontational.
A friend of mine, Elaine, is a counselor/therapist (LPCC/IMFT) and my “go to” person when I have an issue to help solve in my life or as we are mentoring others in their life if we feel unqualified to answer or have questions.
In summary of some things Elaine has taught me is that when connecting or confronting others we need to realize that there are two types of people in the world: US and THEM. It looks something like this:
Not to be trusted even if they appear nice
We’re understanding for US. We extend the benefit of the doubt for US. We presume innocence for US. It looks a lot like Grace. But is it?
How can we tell the difference? A test would be what happens when one of “US” becomes one of “THEM.” When a local sports star joins another team. When your daughter’s boyfriend asks another girl to prom. When people leave the church. Do we become hostile? If so, we’ve just failed the test. Let us remember, that Christ tears down divisions. There is no place for hostility with true Grace. Therefore, let us seek, and find, our true peace in Him.” THANK YOU, Elaine!
In our current culture we see this played out EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. (One reason I watch less and less news.) The question for each of us every single day should be this, “How can I try more to connect than to confront?”
Whether it’s with my neighbors, the people with whom I minister, my family, my friends, the people with whom I disagree, or people I just don’t really care for, I realize that I need to be mindful of my directive….to sincerely want and need to CONNECT more than I want to CONFRONT. And in doing so, I need to realize that if they are more confrontational than connecting, I may need to move on from this relationship if it becomes a toxic one. (That is for another blog and topic!) Here are some fast and easy steps for each of us to think about, consider and then in which to take action:
To CONNECT better it looks something like this:
- RESPOND to emails, text, voice messages, and phone calls. Stop ignoring others and make them a priority. Here’s how:
- Make others a priority. When you say, “I don’t get back with people” you are saying they are not a priority and they don’t matter. Put the shoe on the other foot and see how it feels when that happens to you…..what do you think? Are you frustrated because you weren’t their priority? Did someone come to mind with whom to re-connect? (Make it a priority to respond to all of your “inbox” items daily and at least say, “I can’t respond until _______; but I’ll get back with you soon.” THAT is making connection. Go for it.) For us, we tell people, “If we don’t respond within 24 hours to at least let you know we got your message, we are either out of the country or dead.” This keeps us mindful of the importance of others, and their reaching out to us; and our responsibility to mindful, caring, and cosiderate.
- Write a note and send it in the mail occasionally. It will be read and re-read many times more than an email or text. This note can be used to send a compliment, to say you’re praying for them, to give them a word of encouragement, share something humorous or a memory, or just say you hope to see or talk to them soon! (This is a connection that keeps on giving.)
- Give a call. Sometimes hearing a real voice is so much better than trying to read between the lines of a text or email. It’s also a deeper way to connect.
- Watch your tone on the phone and in person. Your tone (and mine) is a sure give-a-way if we are truly connecting or if we are wishing to……
CONFRONT – confronting looks something like this:
- “Why didn’t you call me?” (It’s abrasive; it’s demanding.) How about connecting with this, “I miss you, can you give me a call?” or “I’d love to have coffee with you to catch up.” Isn’t that much better?
- “You should think or act like I do and be interested in me/all I do.” (That is a huge and big assumption that no one needs to be a part of and thus becomes confrontational. Are YOU interested in THEIR life? Do you care about them? Their family? Their joys? Their sorrows? Their worries? Their everyday struggles? Or are you selfish and the diva/divo person who just cares about YOU? Well, then….get busy and reach out nicely to others. How about reconnecting and saying, “I have been “so self-absorbed” (or if you can’t bring yourself to be 100% honest just say, “so busy” for starters) lately with some big stuff in life, but I sure would like to connect with you and see how you’re doing, too!” Own it. Connect.
- “You don’t see things my way.” (Are you being a bully? Are you expecting everyone to see things only the way you do? Yes, this has a hint of “bully” to it. Most bullies say they’re being proactive; assertive; direct; or something else but they are blind to being a bully.) How about trying to connect like this, “I know we don’t see eye to eye, but that is what makes the world go ‘round. Let’s talk about some of these things and also just enjoy a few laughs and good times.”
- “Stop doing_________.” (This is also demanding and while it might be a necessary conversation, it’s confrontational.) How about connecting with a statement that says, “I wanted to chat about somethings and see if we can get on the same page.” While you will need to be specific where I am being general, give the other person a chance to think it out, understand themselves and how they’re presenting themselves, and cool down to a place they can connect with you about whatever your concern is.
This one last idea has saved us from many a confrontation. We learned it from a fellow speaker on FAMILYLIFE speaker team and it goes something like this:
Be sure to share FACT TO FACT/FEELING TO FEELING.
Respond to someone’s FACTUAL statement with FACT.
Respond to someone’s FEELING statement with FEELING.
Think this through. We have watched this work as a CONNECTING moment with others EVERYWHERE (neighbors, family, friends, even our special needs JOEY!!!). It saves disagreements in marriage, fights with siblings, disappointments with friends, and meets in the middle with everyone in your life. Try it:
FACT TO FACT:
When someone shares a fact with us and we respond with how we feel about it, we have just ended that conversation because we came across CONFRONTATIONAL. “You didn’t hear me. You don’t care about me,” is what it sounds like. When we respond in a factual response and tone we have just made a connection with the other person. Keep it simple, concise, and true.
FEELING TO FEELING:
Likewise, when someone shares their feelings, and we respond with a fact, we have just dismissed their feelings, slammed the door (emotionally) in their face and said, “I don’t care that you have a feeling about it, it’s like this!” Yet if we connect with a feeling statement, “I can imagine a little bit about how frustrating that must be,” we will immediately connect to further conversation and hopefully full resolve. Caring and connection.
We have seen this work in every relationship and even with our special needs son. When he feels heard; he connects.
As we engage in our culture, at work, in our neighborhoods, and in our homes, let’s give these ideas a try and stop bullying and being demanding as a first “go”; and start listening, caring, and connecting which will take time and effort. It can be quite fun and also meaningful! We can say it works almost 100% of the time. Try it….you just might make a great connection!
Dr. Joe and Cindi Ferrini share their newest book: Love All-Ways: Embracing Marriage Together on the Special Needs Journey (order at www.cindiferrini.com). They are authors, speakers, and bloggers for several blogging sites on marriage, family and special needs. They speak nationally for FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Marriage Get-a-Ways, authored Unexpected Journey – When Special Needs Change our Course, and have been interviewed on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, Janet Parshall at “In the Market”, Chris Brooks of “Equipped” and various other radio and television venues. Connect with them at:
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