Some of the best advice I’ve ever received was hard for the giver to give. I am ever grateful they provided helpful feedback that changed my perspective. They ultimately made me a better person.
My choleric get it done personality can be impatient, overpowering and I’ll admit: tactless. Thank you to those who took me aside and showed me a better way. They taught me the need for compassion, listening and waiting on others. God makes us all unique. We need to embrace our strengths and work to improve our weaknesses.
Over the years, I’ve learned I need help to identify my weaknesses. I’ve asked my friends, co-workers and those I lead to speak up when I’m headed down the wrong path. I need people in my life who will love me enough to suggest I take a “time-out” before I do or say something I will regret.
Jesus was such a friend to Martha. She got things done, and had no problem giving the Lord direction: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40)! She gave Jesus an order with an exclamation mark. Patient and loving, Jesus pointed out Martha was worried and upset and her sister, Mary, had chosen what was better (Luke 10:40-41). Was Jesus suggesting Martha needed to sit down and listen? Did she need a time out? I think so. I hope the lessons I’ve learned in my time-outs will help you:
- Care and compassion make the difference. The old Helen got right to the point, task oriented instead of people oriented. I learned to first say, “Good morning!” “How are you doing today?”
- Give your full attention. I’m the one formulating the response as people talk. Take notes, maintain eye contact and paraphrase back.
- Wait for the whole idea. I am a work in progress. When we interrupt people, they might lose their train of thought. We miss out on what they were going to contribute.
- It’s not about me. If someone else voices my same idea, I don’t need to share my point of view too. I ask the Lord to reveal to me if I am to share too. Many times, a nod of support or an affirming “I agree” or “Amen” will suffice.
- Speak no more than 20% of the time. I’m missing out on someone’s insight if I’m doing all the talking. In a small group setting, no one person (including the leader) should monopolize the conversation. Redirect with, “Let’s hear from someone who hasn’t shared yet.”
Teams call time-outs at strategic times during the game. It gives everyone an opportunity to catch their breath and regroup. I challenge you to invite people in your circle of influence to call a time-out for you. Use the time to seek God so you can embrace the change and say “Yes” to all He has planned.
Helen Baratta is an author, speaker, coach, group leader, triathlete and nationally certified fitness instructor. She serves as Director of Development for First Place 4 Health. Check out her book Restored! Embracing Weight Loss God’s Way available at our online bookstore.