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When we go into a conversation we have a choice to make – am I in this conversation to promote myself or to help and encourage the other person? This is something that we have been working on in sibling relationships though it is applicable to any relationship.
When we go into a conversation with something to prove we tend to be aggressive and the listener will either be defensive or withdraw. It is really a no-win situation.
I was explaining this to my children the other day when it dawned on me that both of them have the opportunity to make each other great. Joshua, with all his gifts and knowledge, has the opportunity to make Jessica a fantastic woman, and Jessica, with all her gifts and understanding has the opportunity to make Joshua an amazing man. In supporting and encouraging each other, instead of being out to prove something in and of themselves, they will draw out the amazing-ness in each other. This reflects what a marriage is to be like. I reflect Pete’s love and care for me. And as the saying goes, behind every great man there is a great woman! Through our love and support for each other we have the opportunity to encourage our spouse to be all that God made them to be. Sibling relationships are the practice ground.
What does this look like? Here is an example: Josh and Jess were debating a fact or reference about ancient Egypt. While they both approached this conversation with something to prove (they were right and the other was wrong), they just debated and it wasn’t going anywhere. If they had a different attitude though they could have encouraged each other by asking about their sources, by supporting the other’s efforts to find truth, or by asking questions, also by simply accepting someone else may know more! Instead of a stale mate of simply disagreeing they would have been able to enjoy learning together, drawing from each other’s knowledge and understanding. Jess would have been able to challenge Joshua to think broader, Joshua would have been able to encourage Jess in thinking through her sources. They would have both come away being better people for the conversation.
Some other key communication principles
- Listen more than you talk
- Ask questions before you declare your opinions
- Be humble – you don’t know everything
- Consider the preciousness of the other person
- Consider the preciousness of the relationship over being right
You may be interested in this article from my website, Be a Good Listener