- 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.
- Look the other in the eye and nod your head in the affirmative every once in a while.
- Ask questions to clarify what you think you are hearing.
- 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.”
- 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