Oh, yes, really.
I’ve observed conversations lately which seemed more like battles to the death which, while entertaining sometimes, clearly, don’t resolve anything. Polarized positionally rarely does. And often, calling someone out even if you are “right” means the conversation ends. If you’re interested in shutting down a conversation, that’s one way to do it!
You may have heard the expression, “You’d rather be right, than in relationship.” We know what it looks like to be “right”. Now, what does it look like to be “in relationship” and how does that affect how we accomplish things together?
During my travels, I will often stop in a popular restaurant and grab a quick dinner at the bar. I find I don’t relish eating alone and generally have great conversations with other travelers there. On this particular evening, I observed a conversation, where a heated argument broke out among strangers. The topic, of all things, was religion. Oh my. What are the taboo topics at the dinner table: religion, politics, money? Hmmm, I think I’ve broken that rule of polite engagement very often these days.
One person shared that they thought that Islam was the beginning of the downfall of our government. Wow. The other person said, “No, Christianity is responsible for more death and destruction.” Another wow. This was no light conversation. Notice though, that neither party was “communicating” with the other. They were broadcasting, each independently, and simply raising the volume. Communication requires intention to share your point of view, to complete the loop. And enrolling someone in accepting a different point of view goes beyond communicating!!!!
Connection must occur first. And to add two more cliches to this article, “One must meet them where they “live” or, in the words of Stephen Covey, First Seek to Understand because if you “Argue with a person against their will, they will be of the same opinion, still.” No volume will change that mindset.
And here, finally, is where the Five Love Languages can assist you. Written by Gary Chapman, the book is an “oldie but goodie”. In brief: Words of Appreciation, Gifts of Service, Gifts, Physical Touch and Quality Time are ways we give and receive love and though we may use all of them, there is typically one language when utilized makes us “feel the love”. And many times, we choose to express our love in the way we receive it although it’s possible that the language we receive love in, is not the same way we express it.
What’s love got to do with it? Discovering someone’s love language, seeking to understand their point of view first, opens the door to sharing your point of view. How do you discover someone’s love language?
My daughter and I are particularly close. Evidence of my love language was most consistently seen through my relationship with her. Chapman suggests noticing what you complain about most often. (I’m so very loving in all ways that I had difficulty discovering the things I complained about … haha!) Jordan had no trouble identifying what I complained about the most! In short order, she said, physical touch is your language, Mom. After I realized that SHE would complain that I had my hand on her arm or would touch her hair, or … yes.
Though Jordan complained about having to get up and fix her own meal, I had thought she was simply manipulating. When seen in a different light, that of doing something very simple, a gift of service for her, she felt the love. So now she views my hugs in a different light, no longer saying, “OK Mom, are we finished now?” And I will deliberately do something for her just to notice her contentment.
I am not suggesting that you go around touching everyone or driving yourself crazy doing things for people, yet, when an interaction is important to you, understanding someone’s love language first, helps you communicate. From that level of communication, then you are able to align, if not agree. #win/win