I want to share with you a very powerful technique for changing the way you respond to offensive or critical comments. This technique has the potential of turning what is usually a very painful and unpleasant experience into an opportunity for personal growth and wisdom.
Let’s say someone you know makes an offensive comment or criticizes you. The most common reaction is to become defensive and angry with the person. The key word here is “reaction.”
Most people immediately react with emotion to negative comments and criticism instead of taking the time to rationally think through and analyze what was said and the reason the comments were made. And once this initial reaction takes place, it can be extremely difficult to change your mental state from emotional to rational and responsive.
In order for the technique to work, two different criteria must be met: you believe that the person who made the comments was in the state of grace at the time of the communication, and you believe that the person felt that he or she was being sincere when the comments were made.
Once you are satisfied these two criteria have been met, regardless of how you feel or what you believe, you must talk yourself into assuming that the person who made the comments (1) was rational at the time of the communication, (2) was correct in what he or she said to you, and (3) believed that the comments were completely justified.
By taking a fresh look at the comments in this way, you force yourself to analyze what was said in a completely different way, which is from the perspective of the person who made the comments.
If you force yourself to follow this process, within a few days your mind will sort through everything and will reveal to you lessons you should have learned from the exchange.
If you fail to follow this technique and stand by your initial reaction, your self-righteous pride will prohibit you from benefiting or otherwise learning the lessons that God intended for you to learn from the experience. Keep in mind that the comments that were made to you were allowed by God for a reason, and that reason was not for you to react defensively or out of anger.
What I am suggesting here is extremely difficult to do, but I can tell you from personal experience that by using this method of dealing with criticism and negative comments from people who are sincere and are in a state of grace, I’ve gained significant insights and have, on some occasions, completely modified my attitude and behavior based upon my revised interpretation of what was said to me.
What I’m suggesting here requires a willingness to humble yourself to a point where you are willing to admit that your initial interpretation of the comments may have been wrong. But just as important, it also requires you to have the courage to (1) take responsibility for whatever behavior drove the person to make the comments in the first place, and (2) change your behavior accordingly.
DEAR GEORGETTE AND HARRY –
BEAUTIFUL! I’VE TRIED TO RESPOND RATHER THAN TO REACT WHENEVER I HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH ANYONE, EVEN NORMAL CONVERSATIONS [AND EVEN WHEN I’M ANSWERING [RESPONDING TO] AN EMAIL. I DON’T ALWAYS SUCCEED, MIND YOU, BUT THAT’S WHAT I TRY TO DO. SOMETIMES IT’S SOMETHING THAT I SAY THAT CAUSES A REACTION FROM THE OTHER THAT IS A NEGATIVE INTERPRETATION OF WHAT I’VE SAID. I FIND THAT SITUATION A REAL CHALLENGE – BUT STILL TRY TO KEEP CALMLY POSITIVE AS I RESPOND. LIFE IS FULL OF CHALLENGES! GOD IS WITH US! LOVE, SISTER ROBERTA