Have you had a tough conversation lately? One that left you reeling in the aftermath, and picking up pieces of the conversation, turning them over and over, trying to figure out how it went SO WRONG. What do you remember about the conversation? Do you remember how you felt as adrenaline started rushing through your body? Do you remember the words you chose as you tensed and fought to keep the conversation calm? Did you rise to the elevation of the conversation or did you draw inward and shut down?
Most importantly, do you remember what the other party SAID? Not how the words made you feel, or the offense, but the ACTUAL WORDS.
Early in our marriage, Josh and I had what we affectionately refer to as the Christmas tree incident. A normal conversation erupted into a war, like it had many times before, and we both retreated to our familiar communication styles. For us there is a lot of yelling, a lot of name calling, a lot of sarcasm and words meant to sting, and a whole lot OF NEEDING TO BE HEARD, and needing to be right. It makes for a pretty violent scene.
On this particular day the surge of energy and anger running through my body came to an erupting head, and in order to get my point across and be validated in what I was feeling, I grabbed the closest thing in arm’s length to throw at my husband. The closest thing was a 3 ft. Christmas tree, our first tree as a married couple, sitting on our kitchen table. I grabbed it at the base and sent it hurling across our living room, lights and ornaments alike flying off and crashing to the ground. The absurdity of the moment broke the tension of the fight, but we settled into silence and cold shoulders, leaving the real issue, the deep down issue, sitting unresolved and ill-tempered. We spent the entirety of the fight demanding to be heard, instead of listening to words of the other person. I have no idea what Josh was trying to say that day. And we spent years, so many years, returning and fighting about the same issue.
I am a first-born, headstrong, stubborn lioness and nothing feels better than GETTING MY WAY. I know how important it is to be heard, to be understood and to be validated in the things we feel and believe. I enter conversations with a voice telling me to make sure the other person KNOWS HOW I FEEL, and honestly, I enter the conversation with the agenda to use how I feel to manipulate and control an outcome that would serve me best. Getting. My. Way.
I have learned that this model is counter-productive and destructive. In order to really move forward a conversation, to move it in a direction of resolution, we must enter the conversation with only one thing on our minds. The other person. We have to say to ourselves “I really, really want to hear (Josh), to understand his point of view, and be curious about his position.” We have to enter the conversation not thinking of ourselves, but thinking of the person sitting across the table.
This is just the worst thing, ever, to have to do, right?
One of the masters of tough conversations was Christ himself, and one of his hallmark strategies was to ASK QUESTIONS. If anyone had a message that needed to be heard, that needed to be understood, it was him. Time and time again you find his conversation style inquisitive and loving.
The great news is there is HOPE for these tough conversations! We can learn to identify our communication styles, catch common pit-falls and mistakes and practice owning our responses and deliveries. We can set boundaries. We can look at the “WHY” behind why we act the way we do in conflict. We can learn to diffuse and reset.
Before it all, we must learn that being heard, and being understood, does not mean BEING RIGHT. My husband works really hard at hearing and understanding me, but we don’t agree on much and I don’t always get my way. Our communication has never been stronger.
You can do this friend. We can do this together.
Want to do this together?
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place. This 4 week class is designed to address the common pitfalls of communication, identify our own communication styles, look at patterns set in place by our family of origion and set in course a new and skilled way of resolving conflict in a loving and productive way.
This curriculum will be a combined study of Crucial Conversations, Fierce Conversations, and the example Jesus set in the scriptures when speaking to both the powerful and the powerless. Join us as we re-learn what it means to “talk about it.
Start Date: Wednesday, October 4th Time: 6-7:30pm [4 Weeks] Facilitator: Courtney Misener Cost: $30