I do not have a difficult time giving negative, candid, or even brutal feedback. I hold a conviction that absolute truth is integral to growth. I believe sharing the state of being with another is a relationship obligation. The problem is how to do it without destroying the relationship, self-esteem, and confidence of the other. How does one act in compassion, mercy, and love?
I see others and wonder. I know that in the power in words it is possible to feel what one is writing, especially if one takes the time to write by hand. When I listen as I read, the feedback of yesterday equally applies to my life. “There's nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you. Your wrongheaded lives caused the split between you and God. Your sins got between you so that he doesn't hear.” (Isaiah 59.2) While the words make sense, I do not find it offensive because I do not have the burden of the tone of his or her voice, the body language that I heard screaming, or an agenda implied by the conversation just before this one.
While I can offer no “fool proof” solution, I have a few suggestions. First, always be totally, completely, and absolutely in the present moment when this conversation occurs. Nothing screams louder than an interrupted phone call, absent glance, or casual work on anything else. Relationships, human beings are more important than whatever else one might do. Unless this is the first message, whatever help is offered in a candid feedback will be lost.
Second, be convinced of your words before you ever say them. This includes the belief of when (timing), content (state of being), and purpose. If you are not, say so. Even if you are, remember you can never been absolutely sure you are right.
Third, always caveat the perspective. You/I are not God. We are fallible human beings, struggling to help each other along the way.
Relationships are God's introduction to how we can see Divinity. Today is a birth in giving honor to this truth.
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