Hammering Home Your Point – Part Two

We looked at the four Ts of preventing a crisis when dealing with relational issues (see yesterday’s blog – Hammering Home Your Point – Part One). Let’s talk today about trading in your hammer and then treating people with dignity and respect. 

Some people seem to think that a hammer is good for anything and everything. I guess you could say they take a hammering approach to life. This attitude is most often observed among high achievers. When they give something their full attention, they go at it full bore. That’s usually a good approach to tasks. It’s a terrible way to treat people, however. As psychologist Abraham Maslow observed: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” People require more judicious treatment than that.

If you desire to develop a softer touch with people, take the following advice to heart:

1> Let the past stay in the past

Resolve an issue when it occurs And once you have done that, don’t bring it up again. If you do bring it back up later, you are treating someone as a nail.

2> Ask yourself, is my reaction part of the problem?

When a person’s response is greater than the issue, the response is about something else. Don’t make things worse by overreacting.

3> Remember that actions are remembered long after words are forgotten

If you have a high school diploma or college degree, can you recall the message the commencement speaker delivered at your graduation? Or if you’re married, can you recite your wedding vows from memory? I’m guessing the answer to both questions is no. But I bet you do remember getting married and receiving your diploma. The way you treat people will stay with them a lot longer than the words you choose. Act accordingly.

4> Never let the situation mean more than the relationship

I believe that if I had not made my relationship with my wife a higher priority than always being right, we might not be married today. Relationships are based on bonding. The more important the relationship, the greater the bond.

5> Treat loved ones with unconditional love

Because ours is a society with lots of broken and dysfunctional individuals, many people never had good models of unconditional love. In “The Flight,” John Whit shared his perspective on where we fall short in our treatment of important people in our lives: “We gossip because we fail to love. When we love people, we don’t criticize them. If we love them, their failures hurt. We don’t advertise the sins of people we love any more than we advertise our own.”

6> Admit wrongs and ask forgiveness

Chicago mobster Al Capone reportedly said, “You can get farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” Despite the humour, I can tell you this: forgiveness is better. Admitting you’re wrong and asking for forgiveness can cover a multitude of sins. That approach is also one of the best ways to try to make things right when you find that you’ve used the hammer when you should not have.

The problem with most individuals who use the hammer all the time is that they may not know that they do it. If you might be one of them – let some people who know you well hold the mirror and tell you what they see. If you don’t believe them, do the same with your loved ones and friends. If you do that, you will find out whether you treat others as people or as nails. If you do the latter, then you need to make a change. 

Hammering Home Your Point – Part One

When I was younger one of the hit songs was “If I had a Hammer” by Trini Lopez. I know, I am dating myself. You can watch a live performance of the song at: https://binged.it/2oChE2H

I was thinking about that song a few morning back as I was thinking of some people I minister to who seem to use a hammer to solve all their relational issues. They enter into the situation and just hammer away at people, beating them down and, in some cases, destroying them. 

It has been said, “Never use a hammer to swat a fly off someone’s head.” And often we enter into relational conflict to win the argument and not salvage or win the relationship. In other words, don’t put winning the argument over winning the relationship. Alexander MacLaren states, “If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it.” So the question we should ask ourselves and maybe others is: “Would others say I overreact to small things in a relationship?

We need to realize that having the right attitude is more important than having the right answers. We need to soften our approach, listen more, and stop making a big deal out of little things. In other words, put the hammer away.

To put the hammer away we need to consider four Ts…

1> Total picture

Do you come to conclusions long before the problem has been laid out before you? That is a common occurrence for most of us who have strong personalities. That is why we need to train ourselves to follow a process to keep ourselves from hammering people with answers before they are finished asking the question. When someone is sharing his point of view with you, try to:

      • Listen
      • Ask questions
      • Listen again
      • Ask more questions
      • Listen some more
      • Then respond

You will find that if you slow yourself down, see the big picture, you will be more likely to respond patiently and appropriately.

2> Timing

It has been said, “It’s what you do, not when you do it, that counts.” That’s not always true. If the general doesn’t order the attack at the right time, the battle is lost. If the parent doesn’t get the injured child to the hospital quickly enough, her life might be lost. If you don’t apologize to someone when you’ve wronged them, the relationship might be lost.

When you act is as important as taking the right action. Even knowing when not to act can be important. Someone noted: “The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

It seems to me that the most common cause of bad timing in relationships is selfish motives. For that reason, when little things bother us, our number one objective must be putting our personal agendas aside and building the relationship. If you have examined your motives, and you can be certain they are good, then you need too ask yourself two timing questions:

      • Am I ready to confront? That’s a pretty easy question to answer, because that’s really a matter of whether you have done your homework
      • Is the other person ready to hear. If you have laid a relational foundation and the two of you are not in the “heat of battle” then the answer may be yes.

3> Tone

People often respond to our attitudes and actions more than to our words. Many petty conflicts occur because people use the wrong tone of voice. The writer of Proverbs states, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Haven’t you found that to be true. If not, try this experiment. The next time someone says something to you in anger, respond with gentleness and kindness. When you do that, the person who spoke harshly is likely to tone down, if not soften, his attitude.

4> Temperature

As tempers flare, people are prone to dropping bombs when using a slingshot will do. And that can cause a lot of trouble because the size of a problem often changes based on how it is handled. In general…

      • If the reaction is worst than the action, the problem usually increases
      • If the reaction is less than the action, the problem usually decreases

That is why we need to follow a simple personal rule. Take thirty seconds to share feelings – and then it’s over. Anytime we let a little thing create a big reaction (one that lasts longer than thirty seconds), then we are using a hammer.

Next time … Trading in your hammer

Confrontation – Speaking the Truth in Love – Part Three

The last two times we have seen that:

There are two relational truths: 

1> Conflict is unavoidable

2> Conflict is difficult

We then looked at how to handle relational conflict:

1> Confront a person only if you care for that person

2> Meet together as soon as possible

3> First seek understanding not necessarily agreement

4> Outline the issue.

5> Encourage a response.

Let finish this series today…

6> Agree on an action plan.

Most people hate confrontation, but they love resolution. And the only way to achieve resolution is to take positive action. By developing and agreeing to an action plan, you place the focus on the future, not on the problems of the past. If the person you’re confronting wants to change, they will gravitate towards the possibility of making things better.

A good action plan should include these points:

    • Clear identification of the issue
    • Agreement to solve the issue
    • Concrete steps that demonstrate the issue has been solved
    • An accountability structure, such as a time line and a responsible person
    • A deadline for completion
    • A commitment by both parties to put the issue in the past once resolved.

If your confrontation is formal, such as in a work setting, then put the action plan in writing. Then you can always go back to that document if resolution doesn’t go as planned.

Successful confrontation usually changes both people, not just one. Positive change is the first measure of success when resolving conflict through confrontation. The second is the ongoing growth of the relationship. Any time you truly do resolve conflict in a relationship, it doesn’t hurt the relationship; it actually strengthens the bond between the people. 

But it all starts with genuine concern for the other person. President Abraham Lincoln summed it up when he said, “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend … Assume to dictate to his judgment, or to command his action, or to mark him as one to be shunned and despised, and he will retreat within himself … you shall no more be able to pierce him than to penetrate the hard shell of a tortoise with a rye straw.” 

Confrontation – Speaking the Truth in Love – Part Two

Last time we looked at two truths:

1> Conflict is unavoidable

2> Conflict is difficult

We then began to look at how to handle relational conflict:

1> Confront a person only if you care for that person

2> Meet together as soon as possible

3> First seek understanding not necessarily agreement

A significant hindrance to positive conflict resolution is having too many preconceived notions going into a confrontation. There’s a saying that the person who gives an opinion before he understands is human, but the person who gives a judgment before he understands is a fool. So, go in prepared to listen and don’t pre-judge.

United States President Abraham Lincoln was well known for his tremendous people skills. He remarked, “When I’m getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third off my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say – and two-thirds thinking about him and what he is going to say.” That is a good rule of thumb. You cannot reach understanding if your focus is on yourself. 

As engineer Charles F. Kettering said, “There is a great difference between knowing and understand; you can know a lot about something and not really understand it.”

4> Outline the issue.

When it’s your turn to speak and to make yourself understood, it’s important that you take a positive approach. Here is what I would suggest:

    • Describe your perceptions. In the beginning, stay away from conclusions and/or statements about the other person’s motives. Just tell what you think you see, and describe the problem you think it’s causing.
    • Tell how this makes you feel. If the other person’s actions make you angry or frustrated or sad, express it clearly and without accusation. 
    • Explain why this is important to you. Many times when a person finds out that something is a priority to you, that is enough to make him want to change.

Engaging in the process without emotional heat or bitterness is essential. You don’t have to turn off your emotions; you just need to make sure you don’t verbally assault the person you are confronting. 

5> Encourage a response.

Never confront others without letting them respond. If you care about people, you will want to listen. Besides, “One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears – by listening to them.” (Politician Dean Rusk).

Sometimes simply having the discussion helps you realize that your perceptions were wrong. Other times you discover that you need to take extenuating circumstances into account. Encouraging a response helps you better understand the person and the problem.

It also gives the other person a chance to process the issue emotionally. Most of the time when you confront people, they will have an emotional reaction. They may be shocked or get angry or feel guilty. They may want to share those feelings with you, or they may not. But no matter what, you should encourage them to give you a genuine response. Why? Because if they don’t have their say, they won’t be able to move toward a resolution to the problem. They will be so focused on their response that they can’t hear anything else.

When confronting people, you will discover the following:

    • 50% of the people don’t realize that there is a problem
    • 30% of them realize there was a problem, but didn’t know how to solve it.
    • 20% realized there was a problem, but didn’t want to solve it. 

The bad news is that one out of five people doesn’t want to seek a positive solution. The good news is that 80% of the time there is great potential to solve the conflict.

Confrontation – Speaking the Truth in Love – Part One

Paul writes to the Ephesian Church and tells them that, as believers, we are to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Most people I relate to see this as “confrontation.” And, worst still, they see confrontation as negative and difficult. So, let’s look briefly at this whole area of speaking the truth in love.

The question we always need to ask: Do I care enough to confront the right way?

When working with relationships we instinctively know the following:

1> Conflict is unavoidable

Perhaps we ought to add conflict to death and taxes as one of the things we can count on in this life. The only way to avoid conflict is to isolate ourselves from all other people on the planet. So, we need to learn to deal with issue that cause conflict because they are inevitable.

2> Conflict is difficult

No one likes confrontation, so almost everyone avoids it. And those who do like it have their own psychological issues! Why is it difficult to confront? We fear being disliked, misunderstood, or rejected. We fear the unknown. We are not use to sharing our feelings. And we worry that we will just make things worse. Let’s face it: few people have been taught healthy confrontational skills.

But this I know: How we handle conflict determines our success in tough relational situations

So, how do you handle conflict in your relationships? Did you know that conflict always compounds when confrontation is not done quickly and correctly? That’s why your approach matters. Here’s a sampling of harmful strategies that we see people using when they deal with conflict:

      • Win at all costs. It’s like a shootout at the OK Corral. It’s quick, brutal, and destructive.
      • Pretend it doesn’t exist. If you hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil, evil will not exist.
      • Whine about it. Winners aren’t whiners and whiners aren’t winners. Playing the victim doesn’t cure conflict. It just irritates everybody.
      • Keep score. People who keep a record of wrongs can’t ever start over fresh. And nobody can ever get ‘even.’
      • Pull rank. Using position never really resolves conflict. It merely postpones it.
      • White flag it. Quitting is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

None of these approaches will give the help a person needs to resolve conflict in a healthy way. 

Conflict resolution isn’t complicated. Intellectually it’s simple. But emotionally it can be difficult. It requires honesty, humility, and dedication to the relationship. Let’s look at the first two points of what is a six-step plan to help you tackle the task of confrontation. 

1> Confront a person only if you care for that person

In rare instances people must confront someone they don’t care about, such as in legal trials or when abuse has occurred. But there are not typical relational conflicts. In nearly all relational situations, it is most productive to go into a confrontation keeping the other person’s interests in mind.

In the past when you attempted to resolve conflict with another person, what has been your goal? Sympathy? Quick relief? Victory at all costs? Next time try to go into it with the goal of making it a win for both parties. And if you attempt to ensure that the other person wins first, then you know you have the most beneficial perspective.

2> Meet together as soon as possible

When conflict arises, we are tempted to avoid it, procrastinate dealing with it, or ask someone else to resolve it for us. But the truth is that anytime you let conflict go – for whatever reason –  it only gets worse. If people are put in a position to start speculating about another person’s motives to figure out what might have really happened, they often think their worst. Putting off confrontation only causes the situation to fester.

So, don’t store up issues. It is never a good idea idea to save up a bunch of stuff and then give a person a history lesson during a confrontation. Instead meet together right away, face-to-face. If that’s absolutely impossible, then consider a conversation by phone. But under no circumstances should you confront a person via e-mail.

Conclusion next time…

People Change When…

I am a people-watcher. I have worked with people now, as a pastor and as a Christian leader, for over 50 years. And, I am amazed how little people change. Many times I see people decide that they need to change something in their life – an action, a relationship, the way they relate to others, their basic self-defeating lifestyle, or some addiction they have. But, other than vocalizing that they realize they need to change – change never happens.

A lot of leaders teach that people change when they hurt enough that they have to change, learn enough that they want to change, receive enough that they are able to change. It sounds good but I have not found it to be true in most situations. Let’s look at these three points realistically …

      • Hurt enough – It seems that many people have a very high tolerance for pain. I have seen individuals continue a hurtful habit like drug addiction and continue using more and more drugs even though they are hurting. Eventually dying and not changing and getting free
      • Learn enough – I know people who are seriously well educated and “know better.” Yet, they continue in a harmful behaviour in spite of their knowledge and understanding
      • Receive enough – People can receive lots of love and compassion from God’s people and friends and yet not change. This is especially true of those who see themselves as ‘victims’

The first key to changing is to simply recognize that you are responsible for your own life. No one can cause you to change. No one can keep you from changing. You are responsible for you. Others can help you change once you have decided that enough is enough and so desire to change. And, other, if you let them, can hinder the changes you need to make. But, you are responsible for changing you. 

The second key that I have discovered is that hope is the foundational principle for all change. People change when they have hope, and if people do not have hope, they will not change. 

The good news? You can change your life if you really want to. You can improve it, make it better. And it all starts with changing the way you think so that you are living with hope for the future. 

Here’s how you give yourself a little hope:

Step 1: When you change your thinking, you change your beliefs.

Change begins with the mind. Beliefs are nothing more than a byproduct of what you have thought about long enough, something that you have bought into—always remember that. 

What you believe, what you think, is just a collection of continual thoughts that have formed themselves into a conviction. When you break down the process of thinking into a manageable number of steps, you reduce the perceived risk associated with change. So, it is important to ask yourself questions like: “Why do I think that?” “Who says that it has to be that way?” “What does God have to say about this issue in my life?”

The Bible states that “as a person thinks, so they become.”

Step 2: When you change your beliefs, you change your expectations.

Belief is the knowledge that we can do something. It is the inner feeling that what we undertake, we can accomplish. For the most part, all of us have the ability to look at something and know whether we can do it. We either believe we can do it or we believe we cannot do it. 

So in belief there is power… our eyes are opened, our opportunities become plain, our visions become realities. Our beliefs control everything we do. If we believe we can or we believe we cannot, we are correct. So, as you change the way you are thinking and thus what you believe, you are then able to change what you are expecting. You live with a positive approach to what is possible. 

Step 3: When you change your expectations, you change your attitude.

Your expectations are going to determine your attitude. Most people get used to average; they get used to second best. The get use to life as it is and thus don’t even attempt to change their circumstances and situation. Nelson Boswell said, “The first and most important step toward success is the expectation that we can succeed.” The same is true for making major foundational changes in your life. Your attitude about yourself, who you are, and what you can accomplish need to change. Your attitude towards change will be positive when  your attitude towards life changes.

Step 4: When you change your attitude, you change your behaviour.

When our attitude begins to change, when we begin to see things in a positive light and grasp the potential that is inside us for permanent and positive change – then and only then does our behaviour begin to change.

Step 5: When you change your behaviour, you change your performance.

Most people would rather live with old problems instead of new solutions. We would rather be comfortable than correct; we would rather stay in a routine than make changes. Even when we know that the changes are going to be good for us, we often don’t make them because we feel uncomfortable or awkward about making that kind of a change. Until we get courage and get used to living with something that is not at first comfortable, we cannot get any better. We will not being change to our way of life.

Step 6: When you change your performance, you change your life.

It is easier to turn failure into success than an excuse into a possibility. A person can fail, turn around and understand their failure, learn the lessons that are within the failure and thus make it a success. But I want to tell you, a person who makes excuses for everything will never truly change or succeed in life. Don’t you know some people who just have an excuse for everything? Why they could not, should not, did not, would not, have not, will not. 

I promise you, when you excuse what you are doing, excuse where you are, and thus who you are – positive change will never happen and you will fail to reach your potential. It is impossible to turn excuses into possibilities and positive change.

So, people change when…

“The Lord Said!”

“The Lord said…” Really, did He actually say that? I hear so many people tell me what the Lord has spoken to them. And, I honestly would like to say “Really, did He actually say that?” Well, to be more honest, I would like to say “You have got to be kidding. You actually believe the Lord said that to you?”

Let me make a bold statement. Christians listen for the Lord to speak in their soul. Their soul is their mind, will, and emotions. So, they usually hear what they want to hear. They hear what they think the Lord should be saying. They receive ‘permission’ to do what they were planning to do but now can do it with ‘God’s blessing.’ At least, that is what they honestly think. 

Believers need to stop using the Lord and “the Lord said” to back up what they believe and what they are wanting and planning to do. The majority of the time it is not the Lord. In the long run the results of “the Lord said” proves it was not the Lord at all – just your own mind, will, and emotions. At some point I would like to go back to these people and say, “So, how is that working out for you?” But, I don’t. 

Here is my take on this. Believers have something they want to do or become involved in. They think and pray about it. Then, they ‘hear God say’ that it is okay. You know, good plan; go there; do that, go for it (whatever ‘it’ is).” And, then they announce (key word) that the Lord said and off they go. When they announce “the Lord said” they are not looking for clarification or any input. Why would they? After all, the Lord told them to do this. So, it is an announcement of a completed event, decision, plan. 

Listen carefully. That is not how it works. If the Lord really says something it needs to be run past mature believers with whom you have a decent, open, and honest relationship. You know, an accountability partner or two. You run it past them and ask if this seems to them like the Lord is speaking. Is it what He would, at this time in the church and in the Kingdom, be speaking to you? Is it the right time in your life to be moving forward with what the Lord said? The right time relationally, financially, maturity wise? Is what the Lord saying biblical because, of course, if it is not then the voice is not the Lord speaking? He does not contradict His Word. And, what do your family members think about what you believe the Lord is speaking?

Here is a hint … you hear God in your spirit not in your head. God is Spirit (John 4) and the Holy Spirit lives in your born again spirit. So, when the Father wants to speak to you He speaks to / through the Holy Spirit who lives in your spirit. He does not speak to your soul as it is still in process and on a journey to becoming transformed and submitted to His will. Not there yet. 

So, you listen and hear His voice in your spirit and then it makes its way to your head. Your spirit hears God’s voice perfectly. The message is received 100% right and complete. But, on the way through your will and emotions into your mind only a detail or two gets through. And, often even those details get a little mixed up. So, you then need to learn how to release what you have received in your spirit into your mind so that you actually understand the whole substance of what God revealed to you. That process is material for a future blog. 

If you are not dealing with emotional issues like unforgiveness, greed, resentment, anger, bitterness, offences then these things in your soul will distort what the Lord has spoken and you will miss the message entirely. God might have said white but you hear black. So, the soul need to be kept clean … your mind needs to be transformed by the Word of God; your will must be submitted to God’s will and His plan for your life; your emotions must be yielded to the Holy Spirit and brought into line with Scripture. 

Too often we move fast forward on what we believe the Lord spoke when really it was simply our will speaking, our emotions working overtime, or our mind thinking ahead without knowing or understanding the Lord’s thoughts – which, by the way, are much different and higher than our thoughts.

Just a few things to consider before the next time you are wanting to say, “The Lord said.”

Treat People Better Than They Treat You

In 1842, thirteen-year-old William Booth’s life changed. His father, Samuel Booth, lost his business. The elder Booth had once been a nail maker, but when his trade became the victim of mass production, he started a business as a small-time builder. Unfortunately, recurring recessions took their toll, and finally Booth went out of business. It put him and his family into difficult circumstances. As a result, William Booth, who had grown up in a household with enough money to have him educated, was sent out to learn a trade. He was apprenticed to a pawnbroker in a seedy part of Nottingham, England.

“Make money,” was the advice of Booth’s father, who died bankrupt the next year. Booth did learn about making money while learning his trade. But his apprenticeship also gave him another kind of education. Working in a pawnbroker’s shop, he was in daily contact with the poor and destitute. One biography noted, “He learned as from a primer what poverty did to people.” It’s no coincidence that during his years as an apprentice, he became a person of faith – a Christian.

In 1849, Booth moved to London and took a position in a pawnshop in a poor area south of the Thames River. But after only three years, he gave up his trade and became a minister. He saw faith as the solution to the problems of those who were struggling to survive. And he embarked on a lifelong mission  that had two objectives: saving lost souls and righting social injustices.

At first he became a Methodist New Connection minister, then a travelling evangelist. But in 1865 when some people from the area heard him preach in front of the Blind Beggar Pub in East London, he was recruited to become part of a tent ministry that came to be called the Christian Mission.

From there, Booth ministered to the poorest people in London. The East End contained half of the paupers, homeless, and starving in London. His early converts were some of the most desperate types of people: thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards. He was trying to make a difference, but his efforts were not met with appreciation, even from the very people he was trying to help.

He and his fellow workers were harassed and brutalized. Local tavern keepers worked especially hard to undermine his efforts. Even street children threw stones and fireworks through the windows of their meeting hall. Booth’s wife, Catherine said that he would “stumble home night after night, haggard with fatigue. Often his clothes were torn and bloody, bandages swathed his head where a stone had struck.” But Booth would not retaliate in kind. He refused to give up.

Booth worked to feed the poor, house the homeless, and share his faith. His organization continued to grow. By 1867, he had ten full-time workers. By 1874, more than one thousand volunteers and forty-two evangelists worked with him. In 1878 when they reorganized, Booth gave the group a new name. From then on, the organization would be called the Salvation Army. 

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the group’s opponents. Booth was labeled “anti-Christ” by the reformer Lord Shaftesbury. An opposition group formed to try and stop Booth and his associates. They came to call themselves the Skeleton Army. An article in the Bethnal Green Eastern Post in November 1882 described them:

“A genuine rabble of ‘roughs’ pure and unadulterated has been infesting the district for several weeks past. These vagabonds style themselves the ‘Skeleton Army’ … The object of the skeleton army was to put down the Salvationists by following them everywhere, by beating a drum and burlesquing their songs, to render the conduct of their processions and services impossible … Amongst the skeleton rabble there is a large percentage of … loafers and unmitigated blackguards … [and] the disreputable class of publicans who hate the London school board, education, and temperance, and who, seeing the beginning of the end of the immoral traffic [sic] and prepared for the most desperate [sic] enterprise.”

Despite the horrible treatment they received, the officers and volunteers in the Salvation Army persevered, and they helped hundreds of thousands of people. Often they converted the very individuals who had persecuted them. 

In 1912, William Booth, then age eighty-three, delivered his last public address. In it he stated his commitment to investing in people:

“While women weep as they do now, I’ll fight; while little children go hungry as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl on the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight – I’ll fight to the very end.”

Three months later, he died. As one observer put it, the “general” who had led the Salvation Army for more than thirty years was ‘promoted to glory.’

William Booth spent a lifetime treating people better than they treated him. And as a result, he lived on the highest level, personally and unprofessionally. He travelled the high road. 

There are really only three roads we can travel when it comes to dealing with others. We can take

        • The low road – where we treat others worse than they treat us
        • The middle road – where we treat others the same as they treat us
        • The high road – where we treat others better than they treat us

The low road damages relationships and alienates others from us. The middle road may not drive people away from us, but it won’t attract them to us either; it is reactive rather than proactive and allows others to set the agenda for our lives. The high road helps to create positive relationships and attracts others to us; it sets a positive agenda with others that even negative people find difficult to undermine. 

We, as believers, need to work at taking the high roads with others every day. Treat people better than they treat you!

Do People Like You?

As believers we are called to share the love of God and the Gospel of the Kingdom with others who have yet to experience God’s amazing grace. To do this we need to build solid relationships with people so that they know they are important. We need to learn how to treat everyone with dignity and respect iso that they will grow to trust you.

For this to even begin you need to come across as ‘likeable.’ And, regretfully, many believers are simply not likeable. So, here are some things we can adapt into our lives to become more likeable and approachable.

1> Become genuinely interested in other people

Often we are so wrapped up in our own life – our issues, our circumstances, our problems – that we really come across as distant and not interested in how others are doing. More importantly, we come across as not even interested in who they really are. One of my mentors taught me many years ago: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It doesn’t matter how much power, education, or expertise you possess; people will respond to you more favourably if you first let them know that they matter to you as individuals.

2> Smile

A smile is inviting. To appear that you are interested in another person and actually care about them you need to make eye contact with them and do so with a smile. Research has shown that the eye contact alone is not enough. Eye contact says you are treating them as a person and they are important to you. You really want to connect. Add to that a sincere smile. You must smile as it is the smile that says you are a warm and caring person.

3> Remember that a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound

I personally have trouble remembering peoples names. And, so I work hard at listening carefully when I first hear it. Then, if possible, I repeat it to myself a number of times or find some way to associate the name with the face or the person. I don’t always remember a name but at least I am trying. It is important as people like it when we call them by name the second time we meet them.

4> Be a good listener – encourage others to talk about themselves.

Remember that a person’s favourite topic is themselves. So, encourage them to talk about themselves and share some of their life story with you. 

Someone once wrote: “Try to care about something in this vast world besides the gratification of small selfish desires. Try to care for what is best in thought and action – something that is good apart from the accidents of your own lot. Look on other lives besides your own. See what their troubles are, and how they are borne.”  (Novelist George Eliot)

How do you take that advice to heart? By listening!

5> Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

To win in relationships, a person needs to learn to talk in terms of the other person’s interests. That’s true when meeting somebody for the first time, and it is true when you are building a long-term relationship.

One of the keys is what author Tony Allesandra calls the Platinum Rule. You probably know the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Platinum Rule says, “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” Do that, and you almost can’t go wrong.

6> Make the other person feel important, and do it sincerely

The bottom line is that you need to make others feel important. And, anyone can learn to value people and make them feel important. It seldom comes naturally as most of us are too focused on ourselves. 

We can learn this relational ability. This ability has been called “Woo.” Woo stands for ‘winning over others.’ I believe that individuals who have “woo” are drawn to people and “want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that they can strike up a conversation and build rapport. Woo is a natural strength that you have or you don’t. However, I believe that any person can develop people skills and learn to have charisma.

When talking about charisma – and that is what this blog has been all about – it all boils down to this: the person without charisma walks into a group and says, ‘Here I am.’ The person with charisma walks into a group and says, ‘There you are.’

Just about anyone can learn to do that. If you want to be the kind of person who makes others smile when they see you coming, get outside yourself, change your focus, and become interested in others. Doing these six things will change your life. 

It’s Not Me, It’s You! – The Bob Principle – Part Two

Read yesterday’s blog “It’s Not Me, It’s You! – The Bob Principle – Part One” first…

So what do you do if you have a Bob (it can be a female – so a Bobbie) in your life, someone who finds, creates, and spreads problems? Consider these suggestions:

1> Respond with a positive comment

When a negative person tries to drop a problem in your lap, respond with something positive. If the comment is about a situation, try to find the bright side. If it’s about a person, point out a positive trait you’ve observed.

2> Show your concern for someone being criticized

Anytime a person’s motives are being critiqued, the best thing is to give him the benefit of the doubt. No one should presume to know the heart of another person. That’s something only God can judge. Believe the best in others (and express that belief) unless the individuals prove otherwise to you personally.

3> Encourage steps towards resolution

Anytime someone brings you a problem he has with another person – and he hasn’t personally addressed the problem with the other person – he’s really engaging in gossip. And if you listen, you are too.

The best way to deal with gossip is to direct the complainer to talk to the person with whom he has an issue. Encourage him to meet one-on-one and work things out. And if he brings up the issue again, ask him point-blank: “Have you addressed this with him yet?” If the answer is no, refuse to discuss it or go with him and help bring reconciliation to the situation. 

4> Ask Bob to THINK before speaking

Not everyone will respond positively to your suggestions. But if you have a strong connection with Bob or you are in a position of authority with him, then ask him to THINK before he speaks using this acronym:

        • T – Is it true?
        • H – Is it helpful?
        • I – Is it inspiring?
        • N – Is it necessary?
        • K – Is it kind?

If he can answer yes to all of these questions, then it’s appropriate for him to proceed.

So, here’s a question: What if you are Bob?

I’ve written a lot about what to do if you have a Bob in your life. But, what is you are Bob? If you are not sure, ask yourself these questions:

        • Do I experience some kind of conflict every day?
        • Do people often rub me the wrong way?
        • Do bad things just naturally happen to me?
        • Do I have few friends and wish I had more?
        • Do I always seem to say the wrong thing?

If you answered yes to several of these questions, then you might be Bob (or Bobbie). If that’s true, remember the first rule of holes. When you’re in one, stop digging.

The first thing you have to do is to admit you’re Bob. The second is that you must want to change your lifestyle. 

Begin by following the guidelines above. Use the THINK questions before you speak. Try to see the positive in every situation. And ask people to hold you accountable for your attitude and actions. No one has to be a Bob forever.