Crucial Conversations podcast notes

Our lives are made up of conversations.

I like kindergarten
My teacher is nice
I made the baseball team
I struck out today. Three times
I think she likes you
I do like you. As friend
Will you go with me to the prom
Will you marry me
I’m pregnant
It’s a boy
He took his first step
He said mama
He won’t shut up

Our lives are filled with conversations. Some of those conversations have changed the very course of our life. Some have formed who we are and what we think about ourselves. Some of them have hurt us and those tapes play in our heads for years, even decades after they happen. Some of us have been shaped by conversations that never happened.

I was watching an ESPN 30 for 30 special about the life of Bernard King. Bernard King was a four time NBA all star who lead the league in scoring and had his number retired by the University of Tennessee. But he never remembers a moment in his life when his parents either hugged him or said “I love you.” Because of that he’s never really felt close to anyone.

Conversations have shaped us. They have formed our self image. They have pushed us into sports and careers. Conversations have been the center of some of our biggest insecurities. They are at the center of every relationship we have. They start with good conversations and end with difficult and painful conversations. Wouldn’t it be great to master the art of conversation. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to navigate through the conversations in our life successfully?

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

Wouldn’t you love it if these words were true of you. That your conversations would always be with grace. The word grace here means The grace of speech which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, and loveliness.

That your conversations would be seasoned with salt. Conversation that is seasoned with salt is interesting, enjoyable and thought provoking. Have you ever gotten stuck in a boring conversation and you couldn’t wait to get out of it?

Wouldn’t it be great if you would know how to answer everyone.

Wouldn’t we all be better off if our conversations were always full of grace, seasoned with salt, and we knew how to answer everyone.

That is the goal we are setting for ourselves

There is actually a book that I stole the title of this message from called Crucial Conversations and this is how the authors define a crucial conversation.

A discussion between two or more people when…
The stakes are high
Opinions vary
Emotions run strong

Here is what a crucial conversation sounds like

Why don’t you ever listen to me
You’re wrong, why don’t you just admit it
I feel like we are drifting apart
Why do you always assume the worst about me
I’m not sure what school I want to go to
I’m not happy with my career
You need to stop drinking
I’m stressed and obsessed and I don’t know what to do about it

Here’s another added dimension to these crucial conversations. When we have crucial conversations we are almost always at our worst.

One author gives his explanation for why we respond like this. “We’re designed wrong. When conversations turn from routine to crucial, we’re often in trouble. Countless generations of genetic shaping drive humans to handle crucial conversations with flying fists and fleet feet, not intelligent persuasion and gentle attentiveness.

We come from a long line of human beings with a strong survival mode.
One author put it like this

Let’s say that your significant other has been paying less and less attention to you. You realize he or she has a busy job, but you still would like more time together. You drop a few hints about the issues, but your loved one doesn’t handle it well. You decide not to put on added pressure, so you clam up. Of course, since your not all that happy about the arrangement, your displeasure now comes out through an occasional sarcastic remark. “Another late night, huh? I’ve got Facebook friends I see more often. Unfortunately, the more you snip and snap, the less your loved one wants to be around you. So your significant other spends even less time with you, you become even more upset and the spiral continues.

How can you and I do a stop handling our conflicts like cave dwellers? To take our first step at handling the crucial conversations in our life I want us to look back at the book of Colossians.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

Right before the author gives us this concept he points out some of the problem areas we have in communication. To find those flip back to Colossians 3

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. 20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing [t]to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Colossians 3:18-22

Here is how people tend to read these verses.
Husbands read these verses and say to their wives “submit”
Wives read these verses and say to their husbands, “love me better.”
Parents read these verses and say to their kids, “Obey me.”
Kid’s read these verses and say to their parents, “Don’t exasperate me.”

We read these verses with a pointed finger. Submit to me. Love me. Obey me. Don’t exasperate me. Look at all the things you need to do for me. Folks, we need a reading lesson. We are reading these verses totally wrong.

So here’s today’s reading lesson. Wives submit to your husband. Put his needs above your own.

Husbands, this is how your marriage will work best. Love your wife. Love her in the way she needs to be loved.

Kids, you want to know a simple way for your life to be better and for you to make fewer mistakes and lower the stress level in your life. Obey your parents. Listen to them.

Parents, you want your house to be a place of peace? Don’t exasperate your kids. Don’t let your tension level rise in conversations. Try not to raise your voice to make a point.

Here’s the way it works most of the time.
A wife that submits to her husband is loved.
A husband that loves is submitted to.
Children that obey their parents have parents that are not exasperated.
Parent’s that aren’t always frustrated and angry have children that obey them.

If we are going to win in our crucial conversations than we all need a reading lesson. My goal in life is not to fix you. It’s not to fix my wife. It’s not to point out all her flaws. My goal is not to fix my kids. It’s not to yell at them to get them to obey me. My goal is not to fix my friends or co-workers. There is one person in my life that needs work more than anyone else. That’s me. My goal is to grow me. To mature me. To deepen and strengthen me.

You know, I have to be honest with you. When I focus on growing me and working on my stuff rather than focusing on everyone else, it doesn’t always change the people around me. But here is one thing I can guarantee. You will change. You will mature. You will get better.

And better, growing, mature people tend to have better relationships.

Perhaps the most crucial conversation you can have is with you. It sounds like this. “I am going to stop focusing all my attention on everyone else and their flaws and how they’ve hurt me and I’m going to start focusing on me.

I’m going to work on my conversations. I want them to be full of grace. Instead of snapping back or getting caught up in the emotion of others, I’m going to bring the calm.

I’m going to make sure my conversations are seasoned with salt. That instead of talking others down, I will focus on the good. I will encourage. I will make sure my conversations are enjoyable and thought provoking.

I’m going to learn how to answer people. People who are angry. People who are so stressed out that I feel their stress. I’m going to learn how to remain calm.

Set a goal that sounds like this. I’m going to work on me. That way these words will be true of me Let my conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that I may know how to answer everyone.