(If you missed part one, catch up on it HERE.)
Many of us are not good at expressing the full depths of our appreciation to our spouse, children, parents, and friends.
The concepts we discussed in Part 1, giving and receiving feedback at work, can also be applied to personal relationships. In general, we have a lot of room for growth as we give or receive feedback in relationships well.
Many of us are not good at expressing the full depths of our appreciation to our spouses, children, parents, and friends. For different reasons, this may feel awkward in its own way depending on the person. Maybe we assume that the people we love know how we feel about them since we talk to them frequently and spend so much time together.
If that were true, I don’t think it would be as common of sentiment at funerals to regret that we never shared with the deceased in terms of how much they meant to us. Even if the people in our lives know that we care about them, let’s make sure we leave nothing unsaid to them.
What makes them special to you and how have they uniquely impacted your life?
What do they do better than anyone else in your eyes?
What have they done that you appreciate?
It’s meaningful to hear these things from the people we love, so let’s be intentional to make it a habit to be generous with our affirmations of those who make our lives meaningful.
As much as we need to improve on affirming those in our lives, we also can progress in sharing critical feedback and hard truths with others.
It’s inevitable that the people we love will do something that hurts us, or they might do something harmful to themselves and we need to have a conversation about it with them because we care about them. It feels confrontational and we don’t want to start an argument, so we grit our teeth and bare it which leads to bitterness underlying all our interactions with them.
Or, in some circumstances, we cut ties to avoid dealing with it at all. 30% of U.S. adults who participated in a survey with YouGov reported that they have “ghosted” a romantic partner or a friend, meaning they stopped responding to phone calls and messages and seemingly disappeared from someone’s life.
50% of millennial women and 38% of millennial men report they have been ghosted in a relationship with someone that was deeper than just an acquaintance.
There is even a television show called “Ghosted” on MTV where the hosts help someone track down a friend, family member, or romantic partner that ghosted them so they can find out why. Almost every time, the ghost saw it as an easy way to avoid a hard conversation they didn’t want to have. And the more it occurs, the more we feel justified in doing it to others, perpetuating the problem. Even employers are reporting issues with employees ghosting them.
We hate engaging in conversations with hard truths so much that we are willing to end relationships so we don’t have to talk about it.
But if we want to have deep relationships with others, we need to be able to give and receive critical feedback. As imperfect, sinful people we will make mistakes and hurt others, even when it’s unintentional. We need to be able to discuss this with each other to move past it with mercy into forgiveness.
There will also be times where we make choices or pursue things that aren’t the best for us, causing our loved ones to be concerned, and we need to allow them to speak into those situations out of love and care. If we respond defensively or shutdown, we might deny an opportunity for Christ to work through that trusted person to transform and redeem a situation in our lives that is hindering us from being the best version of ourselves, and that person will feel that they cannot be honest going forward. If we want to have deep relationships with the love of Christ dwelling in the center, we need to give permission to others to speak up when they sense danger in our lives.
There is an expectation that we help each other by addressing sin.
If we look to Scripture, we have several examples and instructions for feedback. We see Jesus provide quick feedback in the gospels. When his disciples made mistakes, he corrected them in the moment. He did not wait, he took advantage of every teachable moment, and it was clear to them what he was correcting.
One example of this is found in Mark 10 when the disciples are keeping children from reaching Jesus. Jesus immediately told the disciples not to hinder children for coming to him. It was part of the process of Jesus teaching them what his heart is like, what is important to him, and how to respond in different situations as a representation of him when he would no longer be around.
In Matthew 18, Jesus provides instruction for addressing sin amongst believers. He says if they sin, point it out to them just between the two of you. If they don’t listen, take a couple of others along with you. Jesus encourages this confrontation as a sign of love to help guide fellow Christians back to truth, but it also serves as a helpful assertion that addressing harmful behavior is the loving thing to do with anyone whom we have relationship with. However, it is clear that for believers, there is an expectation that we help each other by addressing sin (Luke 17:3).
As a member of Jesus’ Church, how readily do you discuss these issues with friends and family who are believers and how willing are you to hear it from them?
Whether we are sharing affirmation, critical feedback or any other hard truths, thoughtful communication is the way to love those we work with and those who surround us in our daily lives.
How might you grow in this to invest in those around you?
What are your strengths in giving and receiving feedback and where might you improve?
As a Christian leader, be willing to do the hard work to set the culture in your business, your home, and your social spheres to humbly give and receive feedback that helps everyone to become better versions of themselves.