Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Seek First to Understand

One of the seven habits of highly effective people is, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." I remember hearing this for the first time in one of my college communication classes with Mark Vermilion...I read it again just recently in the marriage counseling book Steve and I are working through...but today God taught me some important stuff about that.

Let me give some background: The latest wedding-planning drama has been our custom-designed invitations. To make a very long story short, I picked them up last Saturday, and the girl I'm working with had screwed something up. She had written it correctly on the purchase order a month ago, so it was very clearly her mistake, and I just didn't at all like how she had changed it--nor did I understand how she got confused and did them differently than we'd agreed.

I emailed her asking her to fix it, and her response wasn't as favorable as I'd hoped--she was offering a sort of compromise which really didn't seem fair at all. I was very frustrated. So we agreed to meet this morning. I was prepared for a confrontation and really just dreading the meeting. My parents and Steve all agreed I was clearly in the right...but would she accept that and take responsibility for her mistake?

This morning as I got ready to go, I had a revelation of sorts; a change of heart. I realized I needed to go with a godly, humble, gracious attitude--not rude or demeaning. It occurred to me that instead of marching in with my defense and my demands, I needed to seek first to understand her point of view. Truly understand and listen--not keep quiet and think of comebacks while she talked :) And I was reminded of a verse in James I read just last weekend: "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." OK, God, point taken. So I asked Him to help me be and do all of those things.

The meeting blew me away. Apparently God just wanted me to learn that lesson, and once I did, He would take care of it all...because when I got there, no discussion was even needed. She was already operating from the assumption that she was going to do everything I had asked for, and we were both very friendly and had a really nice meeting. I left feeling excited, relieved and thankful. Huh. Funny how God works. Before He changes circumstances, He changes US.

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