Speaking the obvious, I recognize that the coronavirus is having an enormous impact on our world, our nation, our state, our community and most importantly our families. Whether we like it or not, our governmental leaders are demanding quarantine inside our homes except for emergencies and the necessities of life (medicines and groceries). So, we are pretty much homebound. Some of us are “stuck” at home with our family especially kids who are now being educated virtually feeling like we are the educators not their paid teachers. Most of us are trying to keep up with our jobs and even more painful, trying to keep our jobs. What a mess!
In our current family environments, let me suggest that each of us practice two very practical, descriptive verses found in the Bible. James 1:19&20 declares, “19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” Let’s take a close look at what James, the brother of Jesus, is trying to say here. He prioritizes listening over speaking and reacting.
Before I go any further in this blog, we must go back into the verses and see who James is talking to. You will note that he is talking to E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E. God wants A-L-L of us to become good listeners. We should listen not to win an argument, scream how stupid they are, hiss some hurtful expression under you breath. James states that G-O-D wants each of us to become a good listener.
God wants us to be slow to speak and slow to become angry. Do you know what James is trying to tell us? Push the P-A-U-S-E B-U-T-T-O-N before you speak or get angry. If you don’t, there is a high probability that your conversations will not be safe or healthy. “How do I do that,” you may be asking? You do that by putting yourself in your family members shoes by carefully listening whether you agree with them or not. Remember, you are not trying to win an argument but trying to genuinely understand.
The following bullets set “quick to listen” into action.
- Attempt to mirror back to the family member (sender) what they just said (“let me make sure that I got what you just said…” mirroring back to the sender their comments. After mirroring, you ask a simple question…“I want to make sure that I got it right…is there more?”). This may take several times before you accurately mirror what they are trying to say. I recognize that you may be thinking how silly their comments are. This is not about you, it’s about them. By the way, the person you are listening to may be thinking that you have never listened before; thus, you are doing this for potentially hurtful reasons. Assure them that you are not.
- Then, give a validating, empathetic statement. “Hey, I now understand how you got where you are (validation) and recognize that this has caused you _________ (frustration, angst, hurt, misunderstanding, etc.) (empathy).
As much as you may be at odds with your spouse, “hate” your dad or mother, disdain you siblings or frustrated by or disappointed with your children, start the “quick to listen” process. You and your family members will be happy that you did.
Remember, this all starts by pushing the P-A-U-S-E B-U-T-T-0-N.