by Dan Weyerhaeuser, Senior Pastor
I was never a big fan of the merry-go-round in parks. My head feels funny just remembering going around and around and around in the same direction. The game, of course, was to see if you could spin the merry-go-round fast enough to cause everyone else to fly off from the speed. But for me, it was an exercise of getting dizzy and feeling sick. Even if I could stay on, that victory wasn’t worth the price I paid to win it…. going around and around and around more than anyone else. I was always glad to get off the thing.
I am not a big fan of going around and around in disagreements either. Have you ever been there? You and someone have realized you are on a different page, (which is hard to understand because how could anyone not agree with you, after all?) As they share, you see the flaw in their logic about something that matters and so, as soon as you are able, you share their flaw and your solution to straighten things out.
You assume (perhaps without saying it) that if they just get the point you are making, they will land in the same place as you. You speak as if on the other side of your clarification, the clouds will part, the light will break through, angelic singing will be heard, and all will be well.
But of course, they are operating from the same playbook, and your solution only gives more reason for them to contest what you’ve said. Its as if you are trying to put out a fire by throwing on gasoline. How do you get off this merry-go-round? More than that, how can that moment move from a win-loose to a win-win?
This is what the READ conversation strategy is all about. YES, it is important that you “disclose” your view. You are not understood if you don’t. And we are finally at that point. But I have been suggesting for some time that you only get to Disclose after you have already Repeated what they have shared until they agree you got it, summarized the Experience they must have been feeling in the story they’ve been sharing, and Affirmed every true thing you can about their position. If you speak before then, you have only sped up the merry-go-round, not stopped it and gotten off.
I realize this takes a little endurance. This takes not reacting with your response the first moment you see what’s wrong with their view. This means taking a deep breath and actually trying to get into their shoes before you get them into yours. It means choosing to be wise rather than reactive. HOWEVER, you have not only given a great example of what you hope they will do for you in your listening to them, but loved them well without compromising truth. If they READ you like you have READ them, when you are done sharing YOUR view, you will both understand each other, have cared about each other, respected what is valid about each other’s position, and thereby identified the issues you both face. You have, in one go-round, put yourselves in a place to be partners to solve together the challenge you both face.
These days, it is unusual that Lisa and I don’t “get off the merry-go-round” after just one time around. This doesn’t mean we lack candor or conviction. But pretty quickly, we elevate the truth of the issue and find, on the other side of a conflict, we are more loved than ever!