1. Temporarily set aside your hostility and hurt, open your heart, in love and empathy if possible.  Assume that the other is a good person who happens to disagree with you. This not a debate.  There are other rules for that.
  2.   Look the other in the eye and nod your head in the affirmative every once in a while.
  3. Ask questions to clarify what you think you are hearing.
  4. Give sympathetic feedback by paraphrasing what the other has said. Like:  “You felt betrayed when your best friend broke a confidence by telling others that you are a long-time admirer and direct descendant of Joe Stalin.” Or:  “It was only after your wedding that you learned your mother-in-law is a member of the NRA and often carries a concealed fire arm.”
  5. There are two kinds of I-statements.  I-feel and I-think.  I-statements of the I-feel kind should have your authentic feeling and the connecting action on the part of the other.  I felt very angry with you when you parked your car in my garden.  I-think I- statements are a bit easier.  I like to think that God looks out for those who trust in her.  I like to imagine that those who choose good are rewarded.  Note: “I feel you are an idiot.” Is not an appropriate I statement.

Rev. Jim McConnell