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Making Helpful Changes in Your Communication (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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November 21, 2022 5:00 am

Making Helpful Changes in Your Communication (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 21, 2022 5:00 am

Dr. Mike Bechtle wants to help people communicate better, especially in our social media world where everybody is talking all at once and nobody is listening. Mike explains we need “more weight” or value to our communication in order to be heard, and he talked about how we can use emotion in positive ways to energize our conversations. (Part 1 of 2)

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In those early years, when I came to know the Lord, he and his family were so against it that they actually advised him to divorce me. Joy spent many lonely years trying to trust God and love her husband well. Thankfully, she found the support and encouragement she needed. I think that God just really used Focus on the Family and your guys' ministry to grow me and prepare me and guide my heart to live out in front of my husband what it means to follow Christ. And the best news of all is that Joy's husband also became a follower of Jesus. I'm Jim Daly. When we work together, we can strengthen more marriages like Joy's and give families hope.

Please call 800 the letter A in the word family or donate at slash hope and your gift will be doubled. I've had a number of times where somebody was talking nonstop and I should have interrupted but I didn't. Sometimes I try to make a joke and either I don't time it right or it's just not a good joke and then I end up regretting it all and wanting to put a shoe in my mouth. When I was planning my wedding, my mom and I were looking at some flower girl dresses and I wanted one color and she was telling me that that was not the right color to use for it.

I looked her in the eye and told her, well, too bad it's my wedding then. Probably could have phrased that better. Well, maybe you can relate there. I wonder if communication is one of those skills that you've never really felt good at. Or do you wish you could learn how to express yourself more clearly? We're going to be covering communication today on Focus on the Family and your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly.

I'm John Fuller. John, this is one of those life skills we don't tend to talk much about. We just expect everybody can do it well or marginally well. Like the first time you had to speak before a group or a crowd, you probably prepared your thoughts. Sometimes when I'm speaking, the best speaking engagements that I have are things that I've not prepared for, ironically. But typically you want to prepare your thoughts in that kind of environment so you don't freeze and all those kinds of things. But we don't do much to prepare for our regular, ordinary, everyday conversations, right?

How do I want to express myself? Like the scripture talks about being edifying toward one another. And that often means speaking positively about people, their strong attributes, not their negative ones. And today I'm excited to have our guest here today, Mike Bechtel, who's going to help us think about those conversations. Not just the pre-planned ones, but the everyday interaction that we have with, let's say, our spouse, our kids, maybe our parents, and then the neighbor. And at this time of year, let's include holiday guests. Thanksgiving and Christmas are upon us. And you might have a lot going on during this season where communication, well, it would be a good thing to review.

Having the family over. What do we talk about? Well, we're going to hear a little bit from Mike Bechtel about all of this. He's been here before in the studio with us. He's an author, a speaker, a blogger. He specializes in communication and leadership training. And Mike has a book he's written that serves as the basis for our conversation today.

It's Better to Bite Your Tongue Than Eat Your Words. And we do have copies of that book here at the ministry. Click the link on your screen or give us a call.

800, the letter A in the word family. Mike, welcome back to Focus. Good to have you. Well, thank you. It's always a privilege.

Especially on this issue of communication. It is kind of funny. We're right in front of Thanksgiving. Most people, I think, will be having family over. Some really, you know, looking forward to that.

Maybe some others might not be as eager to see that happen. So speak to that issue. Just how to have a good family discussion when all the family's at your house. Well, it seems like when we talk to most people, we behave ourselves in conversation. But somehow when families are together, especially family members, you always have that one irregular one.

It's a different filter for us. It is. And they come together and there's somebody that knows how to push your buttons. I had somebody the other day said, sorry, I'm pushing all your buttons.

I'm trying to find the mute button. Right. Let me give you an example for the listeners. I mean, one of those things is like, are you really going to have another piece of pie? Only your family would say that to you.

Right. Well, and then there's all the expectations that come with it because everybody eats and leaves and then certain people are left to clean up. And then there's so there's feelings that come. And with family, it comes up a little stronger that maybe you haven't seen some of these people for a year, but there they are. And it comes back again. That's really good.

Hey, Jean was brilliant. She came up with really decorative Thanksgiving paper plates. And I'm always volunteering to do the dishes on that day. Right. So it's pretty fast.

I can get those done quickly. But it's a good reminder. Let me ask. Someone's got to be thinking when they heard the title of your book. Again, it's better to bite your tongue than eat your words. I would think some personality types would be saying, no, I'd rather eat my words and tell them the truth straightforward.

Speak to that person who would probably disagree with your title. Well, I think most people feel like they're pretty good communicators for that person. They tend to have a lot of courage, but they may not have as much compassion. And so they're focused on getting their point across. They're more outgoing, but they don't realize that there's shrapnel that comes out of that.

It's a good word. Whereas somebody on the other side, they're more concerned about the compassion. They worry about what people are feeling, what people are thinking.

And so they will hold back and maybe not say things they should say because they don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. You know, what's so funny is temperament does play into this personality type. I know for Jean and I, and I would think this is generally true, but I'm more extroverted. Jean's more introverted. She did chemistry.

I did marketing. That kind of tells you right there. But how does personality play into that communication type? When you say people believe they're good communicators, I would definitely think that's true of extroverts. We all think we're great communicators, whether you're listening or not.

We're just going to keep talking. Well, I think we're in kind of an extrovert society. It's not that there's more of them.

In fact, it's almost equal. But the extroverts are the ones that tend to speak. They think while they're speaking. In fact, they form words in order to decide what they're thinking. Introverts tend to not say anything until they have thought. They come up with their ideas and so they don't come out as quickly. So sometimes they think of the perfect response about 10 minutes after the conversation's over.

And so it's just a difference in style. But a lot of times introverts, they don't want to become extroverts. They're comfortable with being able to be more reflective in the way they think. But sometimes extroverts look at them and think, boy, it'd be so much easier if they could just be a little more outgoing and just talk more.

Just tell me what you're thinking. Yeah, there's a tendency for an extrovert to think, well, an introvert just needs to be fixed. They need to be healed. And then they will be able to. Then they'll be more like me. Exactly.

And if they do that, it'll be much better. You have a term in the book that you say some need to gain a little more weight. Now, that's the first time I've ever heard that, especially going into Thanksgiving. I like that admonition, Mike. Thank you.

I'm having that extra piece of pie. But I don't think that's what you're getting at. What do you mean by putting on a little weight when it comes to communication? Well, I think if you're on top of a building, you toss a ping pong ball off the top of the roof, you're not going to be able to tell where it landed.

If you toss off a bowling ball, it will. And so the same thing is true with with people. It's not a matter of how loud you are or anything else, but how much value you bring. It's just like when somebody asked for a raise, they said, I've been here long enough.

My boss needs to give me more money. It's like, well, but they're paying you for the value that you're bringing. If you can increase your value or increase your weight, what you bring to come in deeper, to come in with more resources, more learn more skills. And that's I think that's true with conversation is because if we can learn deeper conversation skills, we've got the ones we grew up with. Whatever we learned in our family of origin, whether it was healthy or unhealthy, that's the tools we use. We go to school and learn how to do everything else. We take courses, but nobody really teaches us how do you communicate better.

We can get those. That's a really good point. You know, going back again to those, you know, generally applied principles of extroversion and introversion. Typically extroverts are, you know, they want to get to everybody. So they're an inch deep and they want to talk to everybody at the party.

It energizes them. And then the introverted person typically, not always, but typically wants to talk to three people and go very deep. And that's another great attribute of of the more focused introverted communicator. When it seems like a lot of times, for some reason, an introvert will marry an extrovert. For some reason. Yeah. Well, we're attracted to the opposite of what we are typically.

Yeah, it's something we don't have. It's a compliment. And my my son in law is an extrovert. I'm an introvert. He likes to go to a movie the day it opens because he wants the crowd and the energy. My wife and I are both introverts. We like to go the day it ends and maybe have the theater to ourselves. We did it a couple of months ago and we were the only two people in the theater. About 10 minutes later, one person walked in and we're going, oh, great, a crowd. Broke our fine moment. Yes. You know, I've had conversations in the past where emotions do get heated and kind of shut communication down.

I mean, that's kind of our first protective mode modality, right, as we just boom, we shut down. But you believe emotions can be fuel for more effective communication. Speak to that. A lot of people that have had that happen, they're probably scratching their heads. How I grew up thinking that most emotion was wrong. It was the way we were taught that in church. Anger was always a sin that you shouldn't. You can't have certain emotions.

And so you keep them inside because they were still there. But I think God gave us emotions as fuel for getting things done for passion. And so he's given us our unique temperament, our unique personality as our tool to be able to make that happen.

So that's really good. Describe the impact that our attitude can have on our communication. You have a great quote from Chuck Swindoll, who's a terrific communicator. But what was that quote from Chuck that got your attention? Yeah, Chuck. Chuck was our pastor for a number of years.

Oh, great. That's where we first got to know him. But he's got and it's a famous quote that he's used so many times. But the very last line says, I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. It's so good.

So good. And it just comes out of the whole idea that he says, attitude is everything, that no matter what happens around us, I can either be reactive, be a victim of what's happening, or I can be proactive and choose how I respond. We have the ability to. And, you know, Mike, today you look at the culture and my goodness, we're full of victimhood, you know, what people have done to us, even in the church.

And we've got the same difficulty. You know, the pastor didn't do this or did this. And I mean, rather than just absorb some of those things that I think many people often don't intend to communicate something negative. It comes across that way.

Maybe they did. But what a far healthier Christian way of handling those things to say, well, 10 percent is what somebody said to me and 90 percent is what how I react to it. Right. I just let it go. And I think that's so healthy, that approach, because it's so easy for us. Like you said, in society, in work environments, even in families, to hear what other people say and automatically assume that everything is true, even our own thoughts. Sometimes we believe every thought we have.

And it can get pretty toxic in there if I start believing everything that I just think. And so to be able to have that change to say I can challenge my thoughts, I can I don't have to accept everything as being negative towards me or towards anybody else. It's like I can make choices about what I say. I can choose my words. I can choose my attitudes. And I think it's a very biblical thing.

Yeah. When you look at that, I'm thinking of the person that may be struggling with a negative attitude in life. You know, so I want you to answer this question kind of probably in two parts. Like, how do you get off that road of negativity, especially for a believer? And the other part is just that idea of, yeah, what what does God expect of us?

You know, look at the political temperature in this country. I mean, the other side, whichever way you're throwing that stone is horrible and terrible and needs to be thrown out of power, which may be true. But the point of that is, what does God expect in our heart when it comes to our discourse, our attitude, our expression? And then if they're on that road of negativity, how do they get off that highway and get on the fruit of the Spirit?

I would say, which is love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, mercy. You know, that's a far better spiritual Christian road to be on. When I think logic is the only tool a lot of us have and what we use. And it's like, well, if I if you say something and I disagree with you or if you have a different opinion, I believe I'm right. And if I believe that I'm right, why do I want your opinion?

And so if I listen to you and you say something that's different than what I'm thinking, then you must be wrong. So I have to use logic as my only tool. But that's where it goes back to all the biblical things. Don't say a lot about logic. Yes, we have apologetics.

We have everything else. But the scripture says that God brought people to himself because of his kindness. It wasn't even his teaching. It wasn't a lot of other things it says. But we have been drawn to him because of his kindness. I thought it's something as little as that to recognize some of those scriptures that it has to do with building trust, building relationships. Yeah, that's Romans 2.4. That if somebody's saying, where's that? Romans 2.4. Go read it.

It's amazing. Another scripture, probably in Proverbs, where the power of the tongue. I know in the New Testament it's there as well, the power of the tongue. Speak to that for a moment that those early writers of the scriptures recognize that the power of life and death is in the tongue.

You might scratch your head and say, how could that be? But it's where we impact people, for good or for ill. I think we were brought up with, we all heard the phrase, sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

It's like, yeah, right. Because words probably hurt us more than sticks and stones. When we just use logic with people, then we don't realize the power of our words. Because I think we've all been in situations where someone said a casual statement that changed our lives. They didn't know it, but it was exactly what we needed.

Ephesians 4.29. It's like it was a wholesome word according to the need of the moment. Gave us exactly what we needed. At the same time, somebody else may have said just a flippant little word that cut us to the core. And it changed the direction we were thinking because of that.

And so those casual words are so critical. I remember, I've said this before, when I was five years old, my mom's best friend Penny said to me, you have diarrhea of the mouth. I tried not to talk for a week just to prove her wrong. But I mean, it is kind of funny, I ended up in a communications role.

Well, the power of words didn't have their lasting effect on you, I guess. Well, this is Focus on the Family with Chaddie Cathy over here, Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. Our guest today is Dr. Mike Bechtel. And communication is the topic. His book is called It's Better to Bite Your Tongue Than Eat Your Words. And we'll encourage you to stop by our website, the link is on the screen, or give us a call for your copy.

800, the letter A in the word family. And Mike, we have a lot of belief in the fullness of communication. Confrontation is one of those things, Jim, that you kind of brought to the surface when you stepped into leadership here. You said, we're going to have healthy conflict. A lot of us don't understand what you mean by confrontation, or what that looks like. We feel like we have to avoid it. What are your thoughts on confrontation? Well, confrontation is so natural. We can't avoid it.

It's going to happen. But a lot of times, that's what we want to do. We're not comfortable.

We don't know what to say or how to respond. Especially, you mentioned the introverts. And an introvert has to think for a while.

And in confrontation, it's like, I need to respond quickly and come up with an answer. Or they'll think that I don't know what I'm doing. And then somebody could get upset. I don't want them to get upset.

So we avoid confrontation. And I keep thinking of a story that I heard not too long ago about a rancher in the Midwest who had hundreds of cows. And every once in a while, these storms would come through. And it was like one cloud that would flow through and just dump. Well, the cows didn't like the rain. And so they would start running to get away from it. Well, they don't run very fast.

They ran about the same speed as the cloud. So they stayed with the storm because they didn't just deal with it in the moment. And I think we're the same way a lot of times. If we avoid confrontation, we haven't fixed anything.

We haven't changed anything. We've almost tucked it away so it can smolder in the background. And so healthy confrontation, in fact, the definition, I looked up the word confrontation to confront. It says to meet someone face to face with hostile or argumentative intent.

So that sounds negative. But the second part of the definition that I saw said to face up to or deal with a problem or difficult situation. It's like, yeah, it could be tough, but this means we're dealing with it in a healthy way. You know, Mike, that's an interesting observation because I think even for Christians in this culture, whether it's inside the family, inside your marriage, inside your parenting, or dealing with a neighbor that doesn't see the world your way.

That's a real good admonition. You don't want to be doing the first definition, you know, confront with ill intent just to do it, but to confront with truth. And I think that's probably in the Christian culture today that's becoming more difficult for us to understand that that is healthy. That's how God uses people to directly speak to another person's heart about where they're at.

It doesn't give you license to just go over and talk to your neighbor about their drinking problem. Although if the Lord opens up that opportunity, what a great thing if that person should turn from that and become a believer. I mean, how does change occur if we're not challenging one another in a healthy way? I think when we see that, it comes down to the relationship we have with the other person. If I don't have trust with that other person, it's probably going to turn negative. If my purpose, if my focus is to fix them, to change them, to get them to do something differently, it's probably not going to make any difference.

It's not going to be that healthy. If you come to me and tell me I need to fix something or change something, I'm probably not going to be very happy about that because you're telling me I'm wrong, I'm bad, whatever. So I'm not open to making a lot of those kind of changes. Whereas with somebody, if I go to them and listen and just talk and build a relationship and build trust, that's probably the biggest thing we can do to have healthy conversation with people like that. Yeah, it's so true. You know, again, another confusing point for some, especially in the church, would be Matthew 5 where Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek if we're dealing with people that are difficult or people that hate us, for example.

That can trip us up a little too. So when do we confront? Are we supposed to turn the other cheek or actually say, whoa, what are you doing?

I don't appreciate you hitting me in the cheek. Personally, I think there's no rush. We feel like, okay, that person has a problem, I need to go deal with it right now.

And sometimes I think it's healthier to pull back a little bit and observe and see, is this something I need to, is there some danger that I need to do something right now? Or is it something where it's like, let's talk about what's going on and just listen. There's nothing, I think people are starved to be listened to. There's nothing that's stronger to build a relationship than listening. And it's such an easy thing for us to do because then we don't have to talk a lot. We don't have to have answers.

Just listen. And that opens the door for us to have that kind of confrontation. Now, the curveball I want to throw you is in this high tech environment that we live in, in modernity where we have social media platforms, it's constant cheek slapping.

I mean, it feels like, I mean, it's just bam, bam, bam, bam. And if you're brave enough to get out there and speak your mind, you're going to get whacked by somebody. So how does social media change the dynamic of these deep biblical truths and these true human nature observations that we have?

It seems like it puts it all on steroids. Well, yeah, and I think social media is all talking. There's no listening.

There's no relationship. It's just people saying what they want to say. And because they're not face to face, they tend to do it stronger than they would if they were in person. And very little accountability for just spewing your thoughts.

I think no accountability. Which is different in personal interaction. Sure. Somebody's going to say, wait a minute, that's not true.

Yeah. Or you see that you hurt somebody or whatever, and this, there's no accountability in that way. So when everything tends to be, I'm going to tell you the facts, that goes back to the logic again. I'm using my social media platform to say what I want to say and it can be strong and it tends to be negative. Well, somebody else responds.

You don't listen on social media. You come back with your perspective and it goes back and forth. And so it just escalates and grows. And so I think if people take that and bring it into a real conversation, it's like that's what they're learning to do is to communicate that way. Well, that doesn't translate well into real conversations.

Yeah. We're going to come back, but I do want to make sure we're crystal clear on this. Explain why, and we've touched on this, by your attitude being I'm going to fix the other person is not a good starting place. That's really, that may be a goal.

I would really encourage people not to even make that a goal. Just enter dialogue, help them. If anything, you're trying to help them see a broader perspective, get a little more life perspective on it, et cetera. But if you've got the attitude that I'm going to fix this person by encountering them or confronting them, you're probably already not going to go anywhere. Well, if I have the mindset that I'm going to fix you, it puts me above you.

It's like, okay, I am here and so you're not where you need to be yet. And so I'll go from there. Now, I'm going to pull it out of your book because you have a story about that. You tried to fix your son and that didn't go too well. Our family is on vacation in Hawaii and he was a teenager at the time and he was pretty. I'm laughing just there.

Okay, that says it all. Next question, what could go wrong with this trip? Okay, so you have a teenager in Hawaii. So we're in Hawaii and he was being a little more on the melancholy side and he's not a morning person. I'm a morning person. He's very much a night person. And so we'd go out to breakfast and he didn't even want to go and he'd sit there with his head down. He would barely eat and I'd try and make conversation. He wouldn't respond and I thought, okay, he's being rebellious and he's, you know, what's wrong, what's happening?

And I'm worried about he's going to become a career criminal and all this stuff that comes out of it. And then one day in the middle of breakfast, he was looking down at his food and he just pulled his head up slowly. He looked me right in the eye and he said, two hours.

Give me two hours and then we can talk. That's exactly what Gene told me in our early marriage. And it's true because he said, we'll be fine. And we were because he needed to wake up and it's just like he couldn't form words. Do the same with me.

At nine o'clock at night, I can't form multisyllable words or walk upright. And that's what we ran into at him. But it changed everything.

Yeah. And there in the book, you also give that end of the story that your son invited you out late one night. Oh, Father's Day. He gave me the worst present ever. He said, I'm going to take you to a midnight movie. And I said, why?

What did I do wrong? And he said, no, you'll be fine. I said, I'm going to fall asleep. He said, take a nap.

You'll be fine. And so I did. And I went with him and we went to the movie and I don't remember what it was, but we got out about two o'clock in the morning, went outside and it was just black. It was quiet.

It was deathly quiet. And he said, I just want you to see my world. It was wonderful. It's like it was one of the best moments we had because I got to experience part of what was so refreshing for him to be in the quiet, to be outdoors, to be in in the dark. And it was like, OK, that was important to him.

And he got to share with me. I thought it was powerful. I mean, I applaud you for saying yes. I mean, a lot of dads would say, are you kidding me? And they'd laugh and go to bed and their sons thinking to themselves, no, I wasn't. I wasn't kidding. I really wanted you to come out. And he wasn't kidding about taking a nap. So I did.

Well, I can relate having just gotten through the teenage years with my two boys, both of whom like to sleep a little later than I wanted them to. So, Mike, this has been so good. And I hope people are catching the tempo and the content here.

And what a great book. It's better to bite your tongue than to eat your words. And I do want to come back next time and keep the discussion going. We'll get into some more practical advice on how to apply that day to day with your marriage, with your parenting, with your neighbors, maybe even with your HOA.

I don't know if it works there, but it's possible. So first of all, let's come back and do that. And we'd love to put a copy of this book into your hands here at Focus on the Family. And if you can make a gift of any amount.

And what really helps, Jean and I, I know Dina and John do the same. We support Focus Monthly. And if you can do that, that would be extremely helpful because it just evens out the budgeting issues that we have over the year. And that would be great. We'll send you a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you for being involved in ministry with us. And if that's too much, we get it. We know things are tight with inflation and other things.

A one-time gift would be great. If you need it and you can't afford it, we're a Christian ministry, we'll get it into your hands. So just contact us and we'll trust others. We'll take care of the cost of that. The bottom line is be in ministry with us or use the ministry here to build the situation that you're in and let us help be a part of that solution for you. We're a phone call away and our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459.

And the link is on your screen. And don't forget about our matching gift campaign going on right now. Some generous friends in the spirit of fun, really.

It's not something negative, but they just want to spur on the giving. And they have agreed to match every dollar with an additional dollar. So it's a fun way to actually have your gift doubled. And as a result, we can rescue twice as many marriages, equip twice as many parents and give twice as many families hope this year and in 2023. So I want to invite you to partner with us during this crucial time and your $50 gift will become $100. Yeah, participate in this matching gift opportunity when you call 800, the letter A in the word family. Details are all online.

We've got the link in the show notes. Mike, again, thanks for being with us and let's come back next time, continue the discussion. Are you willing? Really looking forward to it.

Okay. Well, on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time as we continue the conversation with Mike and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Oh, hey, Mike.

Got here as soon as I could. What's going on, man? Hey, I just wanted to give you an update on my marriage. Is it good news? Yeah, our marriage is going great right now. I couldn't be happier. Dude, that's awesome.

Yeah, it's like a solid 5 out of 10. Having a marriage that's just okay isn't where couples really want to live. Give yourself and your spouse an all-inclusive weekend where you'll slow your pace and focus on each other. Get more details at slash getaway. That's slash getaway.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-21 06:19:30 / 2022-11-21 06:32:43 / 13

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