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Relationships & Crucial Conversations – 2018-01-14

Meditating on relationships this week… It has been observed that when you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you. This meditation is not on a finger pointing at someone else, but on the three pointing back at me… on the things I want/need to work on.

At the two relational extremes:
We have those amazing relationships – which have survived storms and have grown stronger because of them… and those non-relationships where two people won’t tolerate being in each other’s presence.

In the middle there are a wide variety of relationships just a few:
– relationships that are fake – peaceful on the surface, but underneath there are churning unresolved currents,

– Cordial/casual relationships – where one or the other might not really want a relationship, but you have to get along because (ie) you work together, worship together, etc.

– Relationships where people pretty much ignore each other unless they want something.

– Relationships where people don’t see each other often, but when they do they thoroughly enjoy each other’s company

We aren’t all the same and we won’t have the same relationship with everyone we meet… sometimes we just connect (or disconnect)

Healthy, pleasurable relationships take work – by both parties. I have seen and been involved in trying to repair a relationship between 2 other people. It often does not work to have a 3rd party involved in a dispute unless both want to fix it… and it’s not unusual for both to be angry at someone who intrudes uninvited afterwards. It reminds me of Jr High games… tell this person that I want to break up… or that I’m mad at them… or mom, M did this! Tattling is different from relationship building. Even after Jr. High, It is so easy to get sucked into being the 3rd party. God has been working on this in my life – I need to look at my own relationships before I can even consider fixing someone else’s. You notice I said consider – sometimes after we give something consideration and prayer, it becomes crystal clear God wants us out of the situation to avoid interfering with what He is doing in someone else’s life while ignoring the work we need to do on our own stuff. Other times, God lays it on our heart to be a peacemaker between two people. ALWAYS God calls us to pray for both parties, and it always works better to take the course God calls us to rather than charging ahead without Him.

As we mature, we develop face to face communication. But isn’t it funny that we so often digress from what we know?
Sometimes those we love so dearly can be our most difficult communication challenges… Maybe they (or we) have preconceived ideas about how the other will respond and/or simply shut down the other person because they don’t want to hear anything that contradicts their story.

I was laughing at one of my silly preconceptions just this afternoon, “we want to go to home….” My brain jumped to Home Town Buffet (which I don’t care for), they finished their sentence with “Home Depot…” That works. This was minor… sometimes it’s not so minor and I hurt someone unintentionally.
The Holidays seem to put relationships under a microscope – I love it when we can keep short accounts (Ephesians 4), but, let’s face it, what we love isn’t always what we get. I think this is a key point for me because God does not need or want our sacrifices given out of obligation – He wants our love, and gifts given out of a heart of love and gratitude… and I wonder, are my earthly gifts empty or of value when not given or received from a heart of love? I don’t always find the perfect gift… but I want what I give out of love to express that love and appreciation to the recipient.

I was meditating on Romans 12 and Matthew 7… Live peaceably with all men… what if they don’t WANT to live peaceably? Let’s face it, there are those who love strife, they love to hang on to past injustices and wrongs and hold them over people. This isn’t peace… You can visit together and pretend that dark cloud isn’t hanging between you, but it is, and it chills the heart. It is such a blessing, so absolutely amazing . when that cloud can be driven away and the relationship issues can be cleared up.

All this to go back to what I know from the business world, but which can be so hard to apply in the personal world… Crucial Conversations. Yes, it is relevant – I have observed that we often treat our coworkers better than our “loved ones”, so maybe we should extend the same courtesy and respect to our family? What value is unconditional love without unconditional respect? Ouch… how many times do I blow that one?!

For me, the greatest gift is not something that can be wrapped, it is relationship – it is love – it is forgiveness, it is taking the time to communicate: to speak, to hear without a bitter, critical heart… and I search my heart to give from that place of my heart. It’s not about the gift… it’s about the love and gratitude that are the unseen bow surrounding the gift. In my heart, I cannot work on my Christmas list without first working on my heart.

Deeper Still:
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7

23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5

26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4

7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:7-8

Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny
from Sources of Insight
A Crucial Conversation is any conversation where the stakes are high, emotions run strong and opinions vary

1) Start with Heart – Focus
-What do I really want?
-What do I really want for others?
-What do I really want for the relationship?

2) Learn to Look – recognize when safety is at risk
-Look at content and conditions
-Watch for safety problems: ie if others are moving towards silence or violence (2 frequent reactions when others feel unsafe)
– Watch for falling back to your style under stress (silence or violence)

3) Make it Safe
– is mutual purpose at risk? Mutual respect?
– apologize when appropriate
– CRIB: Commit to seek mutual purpose, Recognize the purpose behind the strategy, Invent a mutual purpose, Brainstorm new strategies.

4) Master My Stories
– Am I in silence or violence mode?
– Examine your feelings
– retrace: what/why am I doing this?
– don’t confuse stories with facts
– Watch for clever stories – sleaver stories make you feel good about doing bad

Tell the Rest of the story
– what is my part in the problem?
– why would a reasonable, rational and decent person do this?
– what do you really want?
– what would you do right now if you really wanted these results?

5) State My Path
– Stay connected and avoid escalating – speak persuasively, not abrasively.
– Share your facts (start with least controversial)
– tell your story (what are you beginning to conclude)
– Ask for other’s facts and stories
– State your story as a story, don’t pretend it’s a fact
– Make it safe for others to express differing or opposing views

6) Explore others’ paths
– Ask/express interest
– Mirror: acknowledge others emotions and feelings
– paraphrase: restate what you heard
– agree
– build
– compare the viewpoints

7) Move to action
– who does what by when
– note commitments
– followup