Our culture has conditioned us to hate people “cursed” to be born with a sunny disposition in this age of snark and cynicism. But here is the worst part, from a Christian standpoint. We have actually convinced ourselves that the only way to speak truth or offer correction is from a place of pride, rudeness, and condescension. My kids can tell you that I’m as much a believer in tough love as anyone. I know that some people don’t respond to any other kind, but it shouldn’t be our way of first approach:Quick story: During this last summer visit, some long-running friction between S1 and Mrs. Wapiti came to a head. As one can imagine, dissatisfaction with this friction was not being expressed in a healthy way by my teenage son, and some words were said that were colored by some of the pride and rudeness that Elspeth mentions above. Part of how this unhappiness was communicated was attributable to a skill deficit in how to express his feelings as a young person, the other part was a direct product of behavior shaped by the coarseness of the media he consumes (few to no limits imposed by the former spouse, much to my chagrin), and the rudeness-as-a-virtuous-art-form youth culture in which he is immersed as a public school student. In other words, he has had scant few opportunities to see constructive conflict resolution, and his role models actually encourage the opposite.
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Galatians 6:1We are inundated with bad news, dire predictions, and negative reports at every turn. No wonder there are so many grumpy, pessimistic people walking about. No wonder my little girl can’t even coax a smile out of half the people we meet from day to day. I’ve had to train myself to stop being so suspicious and be cautiously open instead, and make connections with other human beings, if only for a moment. (bolded emphasis mine)
At any rate, it was an opportunity to counsel him on a couple of things I've learned over the years (slow learner, me): First and foremost, and Elspeth was right on the money with this one, is that making and maintaining connections with other human beings, in other words, relationships, is the key to getting along with others in this life. One can't just blunderbuss a heaping helping of discontent at another person and reasonably expect a warm reception, let alone for that person to make the changes in behavior you seek. If change in circumstances, or another's behavior, is what you want, you must first seek a connection, and establish that relationship.
Second, is to speak in love and humility, and not lash out in anger and frustration. If your message isn't framed in such a way as to be received by another in a manner that they'll accept your
The world is full of negative, an unfortunate state of being that I sometimes contribute to here at EW (and something that I'm working on improving, for I'm a reflexive glass-is-half-full kinda guy). Speaking in kindness and love is not only more effective in my experience, but is something unusual in this world filled with encouragement to do the opposite.