The day before Thanksgiving, I saw an article about a “Turkey Operation” here in Austin, Texas. The organization was calling for volunteers to help serve and pack meals for those not fortunate enough to already be looking forward to that wonderful Thanksgiving dinner that I enjoy so much. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry jelly, peas and carrots, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie … and that’s just the beginning!
Not so long ago, the various members of our family had different schedules, and as a result, we were seldom able to eat together. I couldn’t help feeling that our family was drifting apart—especially since visiting an Italian friend who taught me what a joy “breaking bread” together can be.
I had just moved to a new country with my husband and family. That meant new schools for the children and a new job for my husband. It was a difficult time of adjustment for all of us, but I was especially feeling the strain. My marriage was feeling it, too. There was a growing list of subjects that my husband and I stopped talking about, because we knew they would lead to arguments.
But then I got to know Toni.
Good communication depends on a few basic principles. Learn these, and you will be well on the way to happy, productive relationships.
Honesty. If you want to get off on the right foot with others, be honest and straightforward from the start.
Tact. It’s important to be honest, but it’s also important to be loving and considerate in your presentation, especially with people who are naturally sensitive or when the subject could be sensitive.
I boarded the plane that would take me home from a visit to Toronto, Canada. A gentleman came and sat in the seat beside me, talking on his iPhone. I recognized his South African accent, having attended a conference there the previous year.
Soon enough, Andrew Harrison and I were engaged in a lively conversation that lasted for the rest of the flight. He had a lot of stories to tell, and I mostly listened. I discovered he had experience in outdoor adventure team-building. For several years his job had involved taking teams of coworkers, often executives, on adventurous outings into the South African bush—an experience that would, quite literally, stress them to their limits.
Question: I want to get along well with others and be liked, but often I don’t know where to begin. How can I build strong connections with people?
Answer: Here are some tips to get you started. The point is not to pretend to be something you’re not, but to make a conscious effort to cultivate qualities that will make people feel at ease and be happy to be around you.
Synergy—the working together of two or more people or things in which the result is greater than the sum of their individual effects or capabilities—has become a workplace buzzword.
We’ve all heard lots about the benefits of teamwork. Pool your talents and work together, and you get more ideas, greater effort, and better results. Two and two don’t always equal four; in teamwork they can equal six or eight.
Question: I get frustrated and upset when my husband acts selfishly, but I know I am selfish too sometimes, and that bothers me even more. What can I do to help us both in this area?
Answer: When such problems crop up between two people, whether they are married or not, honest, open, wise communication is very often the necessary first step toward solutions that will be good for both parties. Knowing how to tactfully bring up the subject and finding the humility to do so are often the hardest parts.
Try love, humility, prayer, and communication.
1 Corinthians 13:4–8a: Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never fails.
“Can I stay with you tonight?” Carlos asked in a trembling voice. He’d had a terrible argument with his wife, he explained over the phone, and he couldn’t return home. My wife and I knew that Carlos had already been going through a very difficult time in his life. To begin with, he’d hoped to be promoted to general manager of the company he worked for, but the job had gone to someone else. A few days later he’d been involved in a traffic accident, though fortunately no one was injured. Now this! Everything seemed to be going wrong.
I invited him over, and before he arrived, my wife and I prayed for Jesus to help us encourage him, as well as for wisdom in how to advise him in this personal situation, if he should ask for that.