As a follower of Christ, I take my relationships seriously. I try to anyways. By the Spirit’s lead, I try to be sensitive to the health of my relationships (most of which aren’t that great), so that there’s a chance in high heaven for improvement. Unfortunately, the hope for improvement requires me to have difficult conversations with people. Although it depends on who I need to work things out with, I generally dread doing it. I REALLY hate it, it feels like death. I get stressed out, knots form in my stomach, can’t sleep properly, sometimes I will put it off for a long time, even for years.

There was a time this year when I anticipated (and dreaded) having to engage in difficult conversations with certain members of the church board I’m on, so Nick recommended me Difficult Conversations. At first, I was dubious about reading yet another self-help book, but when I found out it was partly authored by the same person who wrote Getting to Yes, I became more open. [Background: Getting to Yes was suggested to me by Lisa (who picked it up from her MBA program) when I was figuring out how to negotiate the private sale of the apartment I now live in. That book helped me to stick to my bottom line and obtain a deal that I could live with.]

This morning, when I passed by a book truck that carried a parenting resource entitled It’s Not a Plot to Drive You Crazy!, I was reminded of this common sense, but easily forgotten principle that Difficult Conversations imparted to me: it’s the idea that how you feel (because of what someone did or said) may not have been the intent. That is, just because I feel hurt doesn’t necessarily mean that the other intended to hurt me. The implications? Resist responding retaliatively.

I think this principle applies equally to positive feelings. That is, just because I feel cared for doesn’t necessarily mean the other actually cares for me (although it’s great when it’s true). Someone’s attentions to me may make me feel attractive, but he may not be attracted to me. This realization is particularly helpful if I’ve taken a romantic interest in someone whose intentions aren’t clear. Implications? If how that person makes me feel (i.e. good) has nothing to do with his intentions, I had better not try to explain what his intentions are based on how I feel. It’s just stupid to go down that road.

Anyways, my two cents of wisdom for the day, for whatever it’s worth.