I am in smack in the middle of a communication refinement class. Some people get Words of the Year – the Father – He enrolls me in a class that usually lasts about a year. This last one started in the summertime.
I’m a blog writer – writing about the faith, love and politics of raising boys to men – so how come I need a communication class? Because while I can think out what I want to say in advance – even for a conversation, especially for classrooms – real-time in the daily doesn’t allow you to delete, rewrite the words or re-do tone. It doesn’t allow you to erase emotions from previous encounters that splash into the rest of the day. Writing allows going back and actually editing for hindsight. In-the-moment living does not.
I watched a movie about Louis Pasteur the other night – I cried with his victory– but indignation filled me during plot development: Specialists believed that if they didn’t know it, it just couldn’t be. 3 out of 10 women died of childbed fever, Pasteur asserted, because physicians didn’t wash hands or sterilize tools. Leading physicians of government agencies scoffed.
However, one by one, Pasteur won over these great physicians – because un-refutable evidence came alongside their calling. Pride was set aside – yes – not only because facts proved they were wrong – but also because this field was their calling – and to refuse this truth was diminish the nobleness of their life work.
Communication is my specialty field, especially written communication. I am still trying to find a cure for foot-in-mouth disease. I still need an editor for careless mistakes. I have the English Master’s and journalism degree. I guess you could say I am a field specialist.
In the process of becoming a field specialist – I had 5 sons – with 5 different love languages and 5 different spiritual gifts. I teamed up with Don and Katie Fortune’s training program and became certified in Discovering Your God-Given Gifts – for children, adults and teens. The books not only changed how I viewed myself, it changed how I saw my children. While the other books explained the strengths and weaknesses of each gift, Discover Your Spouse’s Gift contained detailed insight into how each gift communicated and how each gift viewed communication. It enabled me to feel not only more comfortable about myself but to better understand communication perceptions and responses.
At the beginning of this class God enrolled me in, He sent me out to buy Sticky Faith. I needed to break ineffective communication patterns (see Going Through the Gate or Fence Jumping). You’d think that would be enough – but God and I, we were just warming up. Sometimes, while taking God’s faith classes on “Standing” or “Walking,” “Refreshing” and “Shalom” to name a few, bad habits take grow like weeds in other areas – like Communication.
Gift of Exhortation and Encourager love language – that’s me. I learned long ago that gifts are like double-edged swords – gifts and love languages can be used to build up or tear down. I am careful with my gift – careful not to tear down – careful constructive criticism builds up.
One son’s gift speaks blunt and direct, another son’s speaks solution, one is all of them, the teacher is instructive. One communicates through serving; one son communicates through compassion.
The one gift that stymied me, froze me in my communication tracks was the compassion gift. The compassion gifted person or child makes decisions on how they feel. The compassion gift comprises the largest area of the population – so when Bill Clinton said, “I feel your pain” – he won them over.
Logical argument shuts them down. Too many words, even encouraging words suffocate.
To my dismay, I mistook one son to be a server when he was a compassion gift. The communication specialist in me was like Pasteur’s nay-sayers. I didn’t want to be wrong – and I didn’t know how to shepherd a compassion-gifted child. How do you persuade a feeling person to make healthy choices when logic isn’t their language?
What do you do when you discover that your gift overwhelms your compassion child?
Then, one day, the blinders came off – and I saw. . . . how I had missed it.
The compassion gift is an emotional gift. They are risk takers without considering the risk, only seeing the need. The other gifts are intentional about entering the muddy pit to help lift someone out. The risk taker throws himself in, a first-responder, without considering the risks – the preparation, the solution, the after.
Really – the risk taker goes into the mess, literally empathizes, feels their pain, goes alongside them – and leaves it to the other gifts to implement the solution, the rescue, the after.
The compassion gift, the risk taker – stays with them – like a firefighter down in a collapsed well with a child –while the other gifts figures out how to extract her healthy and whole. Not only knowing your gift-job and other’s gift-jobs liberates one to do what they do best. It reduces judgementalism and increases admiration – and understanding.
My son – he probably felt talked to death by me. Too many words, too many logical presentations are like shingles to the skin with this gift.
I’ve been praying, asking – trying to find out how to communicate with a child, a family member or neighbor with this gift.
How can you encourage without words? How can you persuade without words? Shepherd without a voice?
How? My heart broke that I’d let him down. One of my greatest strengths is my not-give-up-ness – I kept searching.
Then I came across Brandee’s “Love Wins” post at her blog Smooth Stones in November. She wrote:
“I can hardly stand for someone to tell me what to do. I love a good story. I’m fascinated by facts and passionate about scripture. If the spirit’s right, I don’t mind a hint or suggestion. Sometimes (again, if the spirit’s right), I can tolerate unsolicited advice.
But I’m very sensitive to approach. The minute someone tells me what I must do or must think, I shut down. I despise feeling patronized, judged, or labeled. I can get stuck for a long time over a feeling and have been known to argue with people in my mind for years” (Love Wins, Brandee).
I thought, “This is how my son feels.” This was the compassion gift talking to me.
After I read that, I messaged her, asking “How do you persuade a compassion gift person to do anything” – what is the best way to encourage them. . . .I want to know how to be the parent he needs.”
Who better knows the answer to this question that a compassion gifted person who has learned how to use that gift?
We ended up talking on the phone. If I had a sister, I think we’d talk on the phone like that. She talked about her communication needs, answering my questions. In our brainstorming and heart-sharing – the answered came upon me – and it changed my life.
How do you persuade a compassion-gifted person?
. . . without words. . .
oh, my. . .
by coming along side, even in the midst of their challenge
because experience talks to them more eloquently than words.
Sitting or walking right where they are, intentionally connecting, listening, waiting with them; Showing them unconditional, non-judgemental love speaks volumes , not like shingles on skin, but like soothing soul touches.
Will you join me here Wednesday. Brandee’s guest posting here, talking to you and me about communicating with the Compassion Gifted. I’ve never had a guest writer before – and I am so excited!
Below are other posts about Spiritual Gifts: