How to Respond Well
I am one of those people who has a tendency to blurt out whatever I am thinking. My brain is on the super-highway in regards to communication and coming up with something to say. Good or bad, it’s out of my mouth pronto. And yes, if it is bad, it can have a negative effect on a relationship. Thus, I have had to learn to “respond well.”
For someone like me, it’s not as easy as it sounds. It means I need to be intentional. I need to stop and think about what I am going to say next! Not only my words, my body language. It’s something that I work on continuously as its not easy to change the way one responds. It’s also being aware of the other person and their body language. That’s the key - to focus on the other person.
My husband and I work hard at our jobs. We both are strong personalities with a lot of passion for what we do. There were times that we were both arriving home tired from full days at work. He would say something and because of my end-of-the-day emotions, I wouldn’t respond well. That would cause him not to respond well back at me. Oy Vey! You get the picture-a typical scenario just perfect for an argument. But what if I can focus on him and what he is saying, including his body language and try to respond well? (It’s actually easier to focus on myself, not him, but when I do that, the outcome isn’t as good.)
Now for you, the reader, your scenario may be when your teen-aged son walks into the house and says, “Before I tell you, promise me, you won’t get mad.” Or maybe its when your co-worker says, “Deadline? Parts ordered? I know nothing about that.” Whatever the circumstances and the person - Stop! Try to start practicing responding well.
I needed to make a commitment, and of course, the Bible had the perfect words for me to focus on: Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT).
“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God-truly righteous and holy.”
That’s a lofty goal, so I broke it down: To stay on the path to being closer to Jesus and become more like him on a daily basis. I would read the verse during my time with God and my Bible (in the mornings) and make a commitment to respond well to everyone that crossed my path that day. I wrote the verse down on a slip of paper and had it with me, too.
So how do you start? I found that I had to commit to it for three weeks. (Usually if you can do it 21 days in a row, it makes a habit.) Responding well became my new 21-day challenge for improvement. Focusing on responding well has also forced me to sometimes not talk at all. Sometimes, the first response I have seems too blunt. And other times, I hear something and it sparks emotions. I find that instead of talking next, I need to take a moment and be silent. If I don’t have a great response, then don’t respond. Ask for a moment to think.
My husband and I still have our arguments (we are far from being perfect people!), but at least I am more aware and try harder to respond well. This has also caused him to try and respond well. Funny how one’s efforts towards another can cause a better outcome, right? It’s still my daily practice, but it has become much easier for me. I catch myself a lot and try to respond well.
Personal Questions and Devotion:
Read Ephesians 4:23-24 slowly, and write down what God is saying to you through the Scripture? Are there thoughts and attitudes that you need to be intentional about changing?
Who is that one person in your life that seems to be able to “push your buttons” and set you off?
Thinking about that person, what actions of your own would you change if you were going to respond well towards him/her?
Pray for that person, for yourself, and for the Spirit to fill you up to help you begin to respond well and walk more with Jesus on a daily basis.
Thank you for joining me! I look forward to writing more articles for Life Is Relationships. If you would like to connect with me, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear how this works for you.
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