Monday, October 14, 2013

How Complicated Are You?


People are complicated.

Is this good or bad?  It depends on your outlook, I suppose. I think it’s actually really amazing! Each of us is unique. We come into this world with our own set of footprints, hand prints, DNA, personality that may be similar to someone else’s, but never exactly like anyone else.  Physically no two people are exactly alike and although we may think very much like someone else, we do not think exactly like they do.

We each go through life collecting a history of experience that is unique to each of us as individuals. No two people will ever experience the exact same course in life. We may have similar experiences and our paths in this life may take us down roads, across mountains and into valleys that parallel the journey of others, but each journey is different and with each experience, something different is molded into our very nature. Even when two people experience the same exact moment together, what they take away from that experience may be quite different in the way they perceive it and learn from it.

I am fascinated by people and this has driven me to observe relationships over the years, study personality types and take various personality tests. I am fascinated by what makes people tick.

One observation that stands out to me is the fact that communication skills stem from not only our personalities, but from our experiences growing up, the family we were raised in, our position in our family and how we perceive ourselves in relation to what we have been taught, how we have been treated by others and most importantly by our view of God.

Despite our history, personality, family ties and life experiences, the most amazing thing about the way God created us is that we can learn to communicate differently. We can learn to view things from another person’s perspective and we can learn to balance out where we are off balance.  In fact, we are commanded to be kind to one another, to love one another, not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, to show ourselves friendly, to lay down our lives in service for others, to be gentle, forgiving, compassionate and self-controlled. The Bible is full of guidance and commands regarding how we are to treat others. Since our wiring, experiences and perceptions of things may be very different than someone else’s it is important that we bear this in mind when we communicate. I don’t think anyone “does” friendships or communication perfectly, but we do have a responsibility to love each other.

Five Ways to Provide a Safe Environment for Healthy Relationships

  1. Listen actively, don’t make assumptions. Ask questions, gently and with kindness, showing that you are seeking to understand them. Don’t interrupt. Repeat back what you hear to make sure you understand what they have communicated.

  2. Soften your body language. Create a safe place for others to be honest and relaxed.

  3. Be forthright and gentle “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly.…” Proverbs 15:1,2

  4. Be a responder, not a reactor. A responder remains calm, even under attack. A reactor will interrupt, respond with anger, make assumptions and create an unsafe environment for effective communication.

  5. Celebrate each other’s differences and talents and realize there is no need to compete. Our talents and differences come from God, so even if the same gifts are shared, support and encourage each other’s gifts and do not be threatened by a talent they have that you may share.

Friendship is precious. Treat your friends well and don't be harsh with them. Be gracious with them and remember you are just as capable of messing up and hurting others as they are of hurting you. You are just as capable of being insensitive or unintentionally offensive as they are. Friendship is a gift to be cherished. Don't take it for granted or you may find that you have lost something very precious.

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