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.