Dialogue: Is More Than Once

When you have a problem with your parents, the pastor, the boss, the teacher, the blogger, your friend —

Most of us try talking with them once, and then we give up.  Me included.  We presume the initial reaction is the whole reaction, so we walk away furious or frustrated.

But one discussion can’t possibly cover every angle of both sides.  A first reaction is usually just the emotional instinct spilling out sideways, and no one ever does this very well.  It’s unfair to shut the door right then.  You can say “I tried and he was still stubborn!” — but basically you stabbed a hole in the guy and left.

It takes a few days to process everything that you told someone.  It’s not new to you because you’ve had time to think on it.  It’s new to them and it will open fresh wounds.  It’ll take more than one conversation to start traction on moving forward.  It even takes dozens of one-on-one talks to push past the uncomfortable, gritty, defensive posture into real dialogue.  If you’re not willing to invest the time, then you’ll have half-formed judgments all over the place without any constructive healing or momentum.

Please don’t narrow down a whole person into a fifteen minute meltdown.  Please don’t presume every single motive based on one phone call.  A back-and-forth over texting doesn’t finish the sentence on anything.  Communication takes patience, effort, grace, empathy, and forgiveness.  Expect the first time to be rough.  And expect most people are just as reasonable as you and are willing to learn, so long as you meet them eye to eye.

— J.S.