An important part of life is developing relationships. A critical element in any relationship is communication, and it happens at all levels and stages of the life process! Like most other things in life . . . sometimes it is good, other times it is not so good; sometimes folks are made to feel good, sometime someone walks away scared.
Over recent days, I have been involved in a number of conversations . . . some pleasant, some not so pleasant . . . I have also observed others in conversations . . . I have also talked with one person in a fractured relationship where all conversation has ceased and there is now anger, doubt, distrust, and pain. I ache for her . . . I want to find a way to help her and her family.
A while back the phone rang . . . it was Ali and Abi . . . wanting to Face Time! I delighted in the fellowship with them (honestly, I always delight in them). They both loved and enjoyed the attention and love, and consequently ended up squabbling a bit over air-time and Mom had to step in and settle it down. She did it well. After we finally said our goodbyes, I thought about relationships and how important communication is. I prayed for these beautiful little sisters as they grow up to become dearest friends. As I thought about it all, I scribbled some notes as I thought about it:
The Three A’s . . . They make us better!
These three A’s are like high-octane gasoline that makes the human spirit run at optimum capacity! They are the essential ingredients that convey love from one person to another. In fact, when they are absent, a person tends to become defensive . . . and tries not to let anyone in. Here is what each one looks like:
Acknowledgement: Being willing to accept and agree that the other person is having the experience they say they are having. If the person says that he or she is not feeling well, then you must acknowledge it. In fact, the more you acknowledge and validate it, the more they will trust you! Everyone wants someone to understand how they feel. Yet, oftentimes when we try to explain or express how we feel, we get advice . . . and all we really wanted and needed was simple acknowledgement.
Acceptance: We all need to learn to simply accept each other . . . just the way we are . . . not the way we want or hope they will be. We must accept each other: warts, wigs, worries, wants, and weeds. The Bible assures us that God loves each of us . . . and that He loves us just the way we are! It also testifies that He loves us too much to leave us the way we are! But changing us is His business . . . our business is to acknowledge and accept each other as we are . . . and then as He changes us over time! We all get a makeover . . . with God! It Seems to me . . . when one feels accepted, he is motivated to do his best! Yet, how often do we affirm the very behavior we don’t want to see, while neglecting the behavior we do want to see? We talk about what they are doing wrong and neglect to talk about what they are doing right.
Appreciation: The art of expressing to the other person what you like about him or her. “I really like how you do that!” Do it often . . . Do it sincerely . . . Do it as a compliment . . . Do it in an encouraging fashion . . . Do it in a positive and genuine manner. Build up others . . . remember, there are plenty of others busy trying to tear them down.
There are 5 levels of conversation; and considering these three A’s, think about how they play into relationships.
Level One: Frivolous Level . . . It happens like this: “The Cowboys won” . . . “The Texans Lost” and “Looks like rain”; Simple, everyday conversation that does little for anyone.
Level Two: Factual Level . . . It happens like this: Simply the sharing of information, like a newscaster does. Not talking about who got beat, but talking about how badly they got beat; uses lots of facts, stats, and technical data.
Level Three: Fellowship Level . . . That place where we are willing to talk about our ideas, beliefs, and philosophy. This is the level where we begin intellectual intimacy . . . where we risk sharing our thoughts, without first knowing how the other person will respond.
Level Four: Feeling Level . . . We begin to feel emotional intimacy by talking about what we believe, our hopes, fears, insecurities, dreams, and aspirations. We only share these things with people we believe can accept and appreciate how we feel.
Level Five: Freedom Level . . . Two people who have grown to the point where they can completely and comfortably share their deepest needs, feelings, and concerns . . . all the while knowing that they will be respected, affirmed, and received.
Communication . . . it is critical . . . but it is certainly a challenge!
Relationships . . . are important . . . but they take work, respect, and wisdom!