One thing to do to become proactive instead of reactive in a relationship which is more natural is to seek first to understand then to be understood. Seek first to understand the problem, to make a proper diagnosis before you make the prescription.
When someone says something that hurts you, take a second and step back and think "What is going on in that person's life right now that is causing them to respond or react to me like that?" This doesn't mean that we all have to become junior therapists. I'm not asking you to psychoanalyze everybody. What I am asking you to do, what I'm challenging myself to do, is to empathize. Not psychoanalyze, but to empathize.
Proverbs 15:2 (NIV) "The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly."
Empathy is listening to understand, to gain the knowledge of the situation, to gain the understanding of where that other person is coming from before you start reading your own home movies into that situation. It's making a proper diagnosis before the prescription. Empathetic listening is powerful because it gives you accurate information from which to go from.
Dr. Stephen Covey wrote a book called 7 habits of Highly Effective People. I want to recommend it as well as Principle Centered Leadership, because it talks a lot about integrity and character.
He said, "Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival – to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated." This one thing will revolutionize every relationship you have. Remember when you listen, you learn.
The time you invest to deeply understand the people that you love and the people that you work with, interact with on a daily basis, reaps huge dividends in open communication. Gentle people are proactive not reactive.
Gentleness is the power of your potential under God's control. Gentle people are far from wimps. They're tapped in to the source of the creator of the universe. Gentle people have been surprised by the mercy of God. They are willing to give that mercy to other people.
It's true that gentleness probably won't win any football games. But it will score high points in each of your relationships. I am convinced if you will take these five things and honestly apply them to your lives, it will make a difference. if you want to change somebody else, change yourself first.
How do you do that? Just bring yourself under God's control and that will radically transform your relationships for the better.
Just a thought from the front porch…