NEAT Communication – Timely

In this series of posts on NEAT Communication, we have looked at essential elements in seeking true understanding and promoting dialog. Necessary – Effective – Accurate – and now Timely.*

As a young boy, I was fascinated with performance. For a good number of years, I regularly prayed that God would bring me talent — singing, playing an instrument, sports. It really didn’t matter what, I simply wanted to be recognized for something. In answer to my prayers, God wiped out my singing voice (I was a remarkable soprano until puberty), provided me with a notable void in musical ability (although I did do a little drumming over the years), and made me short, slow, and generally uncoordinated. Seriously, I couldn’t have had a richer blessing.

As I dealt with the disappointments of non-achievement in those areas I felt certain would bring me fame, I was allowed to stretch and exercise some other gifts. Reading, writing, speaking. I still longed to be a performer, however. And, I believed that my niche would be humor. Back in the day, many of the main-line comedians produced clean acts that were recorded on long-playing (LP) records (that’s vinyl, for those of you who are just now discovering the ways of the past). I would sit and listen to these folks for hours and memorize their routines.

I did realize that I would go nowhere simply by doing their routines. The gift of the comedian was her or his ability to see life and see the humor that naturally bubbles up and to tell their personal stories. It was this experience that propelled me into the world of storytelling.

I never really became a master of storytelling. But, I did discover something important as I made the attempt.

Timing is everything.

memes-009Basically, to be a strong communicator, you have to balance the attributes of patience and assertiveness. You have to know when to say something — not too soon and not too late. In conflict management, we talk about the importance of timeliness in terms of “ripeness.” If a conflict is not ripe — if it’s green, no one wants to deal with it. If it’s over-ripe, there’s not much you can do with it.

Communication is like that. How often have you heard it said that a warning was given, but it went unheeded because it wasn’t timely? And we all know that a warning given after the fact, has no value.

For communication to be valuable, it must be timely. And that timeliness requires us to be vigilant, patient, and assertive.

* Just in case you wondered, yes, I find it ironic — and humorous —  that this post on timeliness is appearing over 5 months after the previous one in the series. Hardly a timely thing, this.

The Art of Regret

living with less than perfect

Coming face to face with regret has become a daily routine for me. Perhaps it’s because I’ve become more contemplative. Or maybe it’s just because all of those things-I-should-or-shouldn’t-have-done have just reached critical mass and the momentum is simply overpowering. If it’s the latter, I regret that.

I came across this quote and found some comfort there.

Author Unknown
Never be defined by your past. It was just a lesson, not a life sentence.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I copied it on an envelope yesterday and forgot about it . . . and threw the envelope in recycling. I regret that.

Fortunately, I retrieved it and I have it. Reading through it again, I am impressed with its wisdom and would really like to know who said it. But, a quick search online yielded nothing. So, for now, this source of wisdom is simply unknown. I regret that.

I had dinner with an old friend this week and discovered things that I wish I had known — of difficulties and triumphs in his life. And a rediscovery of why he was a friend and has stayed a friend, though distant, all these years. In those discoveries, I realized I had missed some truly great things. I regret that.

I sat with two more recent friends who are going through something terrifying. Talked and texted with two more whose marriages are suffering. Saw pictures that reminded me of things I wished I could do. Remembered moments that I failed. Realized that it will be hard to make amends. I regret all of that.

We face our regrets most often with statements beginning, “I wish . . .” Yet, I know that I was called to have more than regrets. I am empowered to do more than wish. For just like the rest of you, I was given a new day and a chance to do better. I can never fully repair all the things I have broken nor accomplish all the things that were possible. But in this new day, I can make a better decision, have a longer conversation, find more patience within me, seek moments for peace and reconciliation.

And even though I most likely will mess up, I have no regrets for the new days ahead.

Regret is simply a teacher, the lesson learned a treasure.

Hire a Thug

options for Christian voters

I received an email a few days back from an acquaintance. It was a forward, of course, of a message that had gone out to “reassure evangelical Christians” about recent endorsements from well-known figures within our faith community for Donald Trump. The theme, repeated over and over again, was that God is opening the door for us to hire a thug.

No, the word “thug” was never used. That would be too startling and upsetting. No, this is a direct quote:

Maybe God is trying to tell us something important- that now is not the time for a “nice Christian guy” or a “gentleman” or a typical Republican powder puff. Maybe now is the time for a natural born killer, a ruthless fighter, a warrior.

And some of you who are reading this might agree. That’s your choice.

I’ve heard all of the arguments in favor of the position taken in this recent email, including those “supported” by the Bible. I find it disquieting that none of that comes within the perspective of John 3:16.

I suppose all I’m saying here is that we live in a country where we have a lot of freedom, including that of voting for anyone we choose. Exercise that freedom.

I would also ask that you exercise that freedom in what you communicate. Please don’t dress up a thug in his Sunday suit and try to pass him off as God’s answer. Don’t pretend he’s representing our values when every other statement he makes screams otherwise.

Your choice this election year is a challenge. Vote. Support whichever candidate you believe will be the best President. But don’t use God as an excuse for your choices.

Back in the Saddle Again

with a little saddle soap and some new tack

A recent glance at my website confirmed something I already knew. I haven’t been writing much lately. It’s time for me to get back in the saddle.

Saddle

Photo credit: Wagner’s Saddle and Tack

All of that cowboy lingo aside, I have been missing my time sorting through my various misadventures and grand schemes and then capturing them here on my website.

And, I have fallen victim to massive software failures and a nefarious attack by hackers — or at least their evil autobot programs. But now, thanks to new and professional security mechanisms, I’m back up and running. Hopefully, I have also cleaned up the mess left behind by the hackers.

I am also throwing aside all good advice about website management and bringing my PeaceBytes.org content over to this site. It will take me a while to get that done. I’m hopeful I can salvage the domain names and get all of the newsletter pieces sorted through. In the meantime, please feel free to let me know when things aren’t working well for you.

Bottom line, I’m hoping to write more . . . and soon.

By the way, I specifically chose the mule picture. I can be a bit stubborn, too. Thanks for your patience!

A Brand New Year!

A brand new year!

It is always my hope that I will do better in a new year. Better diet, more exercise, less sin, more friends, and a lot more family.

Yet, I never seem to get there.

Pounds cling to my body, chances to stretch and to strengthen are too often left by the wayside, I do what I want — even when I don’t really want it, I sit alone and I think about me too much.

I’m excited about a brand new year. Despite my failings to improve in my 60+ years, I still have hope. In fact, in many ways I have done better year after year at many of these resolutions. It’s just that I have had such a long way to travel — and the path stretches out in front of me for quite a ways.

As I age, I’m becoming more and more aware of the danger of emphasizing SELF-improvement over a joyous, focused effort to walk closely with God.

Better times are often less a product of what we avoid and more the result of what we actively pursue.

That’s where we should be headed this year. No doubt, we may veer from that course from time to time. But with eyes trained on Him, we can’t help but do better.

Happy New Year!