To answer before listening—
that is folly and shame Proverbs 18:13
In yesterday’s blog, I talked about the idea of having the Republican Party and the Democrat Party in my office for counseling. I began with the idea that they both need to assume best motives of the other. Despite different viewpoints, they would agree that each party wants what is best for the United States.
From there, I would talk about good communication. That would include the patience and discipline to listen to what the other party said before making comment or criticism. This takes practice and discipline, but it is essential for safe, honest communication. I may well give them the Fair Fighting Rules (which I use for couples, and is included after the prayer at bottom) and ask them to post it on their desks to remind them of the Do’s and Don’ts of safe communication.
I might talk to them about the value of just hanging out together and having fun. Not every interaction should be intense and conflictual- they need to have some fun together. In order to do that, they need to spend some quality time together to get to know each other personally, not just professionally.
I would probably encourage them to find some humor wherever they can. This would include accepting and owning their own mistakes, and finding a way to laugh at them. There is nothing like being able to laugh at yourself, and in so doing, it helps others to laugh also.
Many, perhaps most in each party, may recognize that there is a spiritual solution to the problems that they cannot solve. Indeed, I would remind them that they cannot solve our country’s problems by virtue of their great skill or wisdom. Many problems must be submitted to their Higher Power, whom they would need to acknowledge, and humbly ask for help.
If both parties would agree to these simple suggestions (as our recovery brethren would say, they are “simple, but not easy”), our country would benefit. They might actually see that they are really on the same team- team USA.
Prayer: Lord, how often do we miss the most basic theme- that we can thrive when we work together, Amen.
Some Rules for Fair Fighting
Both parties need to be in agreement that they will abide by these rules long before any arguments/ disagreements take place.
- No physical contact when in conflict – ever
- No name calling- this can cause pain long after the discussion
- No past sins or behaviors brought up- this discussion is conducted “in the present”
- No loud voices which can intimidate the other party
- No threats – such as “I’m getting a divorce!” or “if you do that, you’ll be sorry!”, etc.
- Either party can call a timeout, and have a specific time to re-engage in mind. Time out MUST be respected. The boundary of time and space must be safe.
- Stay on the current subject- don’t bring up side issues or “and you do this too!”
- Speak the truth in love – our job is to speak the truth, not to convince someone of how right we are.
- Allow the possibility of being wrong, or that you may not be seeing the whole picture
- Become aware of your current feeling level (getting angry, frustrated, etc.) and own it- do not blame it on the other person. Your emotional response may be coming from something that is not currently part of the discussion but from possible past hurts, etc.
- Try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person and understand how they are seeing it. That does not mean that they are “right”, or even that you need to agree with it; just be willing to try to see the world the way that they see it.