Friday, October 30, 2009

each word a gift

This week I was in a very typical situation and I blew it. (Also, pretty typical).

The setting. A meeting.
An off the cuff comment by (person 1) led to hurt feelings (person 2) led to defensiveness then trying to walk back through it to resolution in front of others.
I am a huge fan of healthy conflict in meetings, so that’s not the issue.
The issue is what happens next.

As the dust settled and there were only a few people standing around (person2) asked for honest feedback on their behavior.
I froze. It was nearly impossible to discuss what we had experienced without talking about (person 1 who had left the room).
I know because I stood there for minutes trying to figure out how to do it.
I finally stammered something, with no real explanation and slithered out of the room feeling uncomfortable. The

The rest of the week I’ve wondered about that situation.
What should I have said?
I’ve landed on… “I’m sure the two of you can find resolution if you talk it out.”
But the setting was public. So is there some acceptable discussion with the group?
The people in this setting did a good job. But, more often than not, this kind of thing gets ugly.

Who do you go to when you need a shoulder to cry on or to be challenged to be your better self?
I have a couple of girlfriends who I tell most everything. They are safe. They love me when I'm an idiot. They keep my head on straight and challenge me.
But if I retell a story in order to get counsel… what is gossip and what is healthy constructive communication?

This got me thinking about the peril of communication and community in the church.
One of my favorite topics.

I’m so challenged this week, that we’ve got to be different from the world.
Is this one way we could mark ourselves as more like Christ.
I’m sure that Jesus had conversations with his disciples about the events of the day but I bet they look a lot different than mine.

"Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Ephesians 4:29 MSG"

1 comment:

perlDreamer said...

This is based on my own experiences.

When talking with people other than Person1 and Person2, story telling for advice/constructive criticism happens in absolute anonymity. If details of the story would identify the people involved, or the situation, then it can only happen in absolute confidence. The goal is help you or Person1 and Person2, and not inform the other person. That would be gossip.

In the case of Person2 asking you for feedback, it's always okay to talk about Person2's behavior, or how you feel about what happened, but only in the context of your feelings and not Person1's actions. "It made me uncomfortable when this happened." "I don't like it when people raise their voice at me." This prevents you from being partial or judgemental, since you're only sharing your feelings.

The acceptable group setting is both of them together at the same time. The goal is for Person1 and Person2 to each accept responsibility for their own actions, and to understand the other person's feelings. "It hurt me when this happened". "It cost me many hours of work and I feel frustrated". The focus is on how each one felt, and the cause of those feelings. The lack of accusation and blame leaves room for each person to apologize for their own actions.

In business situations, those rules, like confidentialiy, often have to be broken.