People, especially positive people, energize me. I love interacting with Alabama Baptists across the state, and making new friends makes me happy. And while I’m naturally drawn to positive people, I don’t avoid negative people. In fact, I love to bring a smile or positive comment out of a negative person. That makes me happy, too.
But it’s the harshly critical people who are never pleased, no matter what, who perplex me. I’ve yet to figure out how to have a real two-way conversation with this type of person, because he or she tends to always have an agenda or a soapbox issue at hand. The entire conversation is about the issue on his or her mind and it is always pushy.
There is one woman I run into from time to time who fits the mold. Even though I have had numerous conversations with her and am trying really hard to like her, I’m still waiting to have a conversation that is calm and demonstrates she is interested in me for me rather than looking for someone — anyone — who can advance her cause. I wonder if she is capable of truly communicating with another person and allowing both people’s opinions and information to matter. My experience so far demonstrates she prefers dominating the conversation in order to push her agenda down the other person’s throat.
Do you have or have you ever had one of these people in your life? One who makes you run the other way when you see him or her coming?
I admit I sometimes want to duck to avoid this person, but so far, I’ve chosen not to do that. I just take a deep breath, remember to love her anyway and try to learn something from what she is saying. Many times, she really does have a valid point or helpful information, but her communication style keeps many people from hearing her.
When I realized this, I wondered how many times all of us have said things harshly or in a pushy manner that prevented others from hearing what we really meant.
How many times have I not been sensitive in my communication, delivering a pointed message when it was on my mind rather than assessing the situation, thinking through the delivery and waiting for the proper time? How many times have I discouraged rather than encouraged people? And how many times has that person been carrying a heavy burden that few, if any, others knew about at the time?
I know there have been times I’ve been exhausted, discouraged and/or dealing with a difficult pain and another person’s communication with me would either lift my spirits or stomp me further down.
In a Bible study years ago, I sat by one woman writhing in emotional pain as another participant made attacking and judgmental statements about people in a certain situation not realizing this particular woman was currently in that situation.
James 1:26 and 3:3–12 talk about taming our tongue and how we use our tongue to praise God in one breath and beat down human beings in the next breath.
As James said in 3:10, “This should not be.” Our words and tone are powerful resources.
I am an advocate of honest and open communication. One of my favorite sayings is “I can deal with anything as long as I know the whole truth.”
I also believe honest and open communication can take place in a gracious and calm environment. It doesn’t have to be mean-spirited, badgering or difficult. We can share when we are disappointed, when we differ and even when we are angry, but we should always share with the proper respect and at an appropriate time.