Friday, November 4, 2011

(7) The Art Of Communication

Admitting our mistakes is probably, oh not probably, but most definitely, one of the hardest things for us fallible humans to do. Bill Hybels in his book Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs notes that, "Admitting your mistakes says something profound about your basic integrity as a leader."

So, admitting your mistakes speaks to your individual integrity. You might ask, "what does integrity have to do with me admitting my mistakes," Well that's a legitimate question, let's try to discover the answer together. defines integrity as: 1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. 2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.

There is one word that jumps out in this definition, it is the word honesty! to be honest is to be whole, complete, and undiminished. Integrity says that our lives line up with those things that we say we believe.

As I was thinking about what keeps us from being able to hear hard things about ourselves; the one thing that kept coming to mind was the word defensiveness. Author Norman Wright tells us that, "It's a wall that pushes others away. I t makes a statement about your desire to grow. It blocks communication."

Here are some ideas from Wright's book on communication that can help us admit when  we are wrong:

1. Evaluate the criticism for validity (ask yourself is there any truth to the charge against me)
2. Clarify the root problem (understand the criticism from the other person's point of view)
3. Respond positively and confidently (yes, I was wrong and I'll take the necessary steps to correct the problem)

What does the Bible say about our refusal to admit our mistakes, take a listen, it is pretty insightful:

Don't refuse to accept criticism (Prov. 23:12).

It is a badge of honor to accept valid criticism (Prov. 25:12).

If you refuse criticism you will end in poverty and disgrace (Prov. 13:18).

Let me share a personal story from the Osisek household. One day not too long ago, our five year old grandson decided that he needed to go to the bathroom. Now, let me back up just a little-I've become thoroughly domesticated since being out of the work force since 2009. My lovely wife has been carrying the load, so in my efforts to share the work load I've become a cook, and a house cleaner.

So on this day, I just finished cleaning the downstairs bathroom, which is not to fun, my least favorite job. As I go into the bathroom to admire my handiwork, lo and behold, there is a yellow liquid all over the toilet seat. I call my grandson into the bathroom and admonish him and ask him to clean up HIS mess, and much to my chagrin he turns and looks me dead in the eyes and says, "I didn't do it pop-pop, you did."

After a lengthy battle with a five year old (you'll never win) about the responsibility of cleaning up after yourself and admitting when your wrong; I think he almost convinced me that I did do it!

Moral of story: the defensiveness and the push back to admit our wrongs starts at a very young age and if left unchecked becomes a habit that is hard to break when we get older. 

Let's come before our King, acknowledge our pride and ask for the ability to admit our wrong and accept responsibility when we pee on the toilet.

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