In the past few weeks I have offered tips for building and strengthening personal relationships. Initially, readers were asked to make two lists. One for character traits they desired in others and the second for those they would not tolerate. In addition, they were asked to write a short scenario to illustrate how each of those traits could be expressed.
For those who are still single, doing that assignment along with last week’s and this week’s exercises can help prevent suffering and regrets in your most important relationships. (Read the comments from Tara) And, for those who are already in committed relationships these exercises can help you not only develop good communication practices but may also help you get to know your kids.
Last week I shared examples of a few conversational questions and statements to demonstrate how to illicit another’s thoughts and attitudes that ultimately express one’s character. This week I will share a few more examples in order to provide a more thorough picture for gleaning this vital information.
If you had the word “humble” on your first list and “prideful” on your second one you may engage in conversation by asking some of the following questions or by making some similar statements to find out which character identifies the other person.
Q.) If you were having a conversation with somebody who had a strong opinion about a certain subject and you knew they were wrong and you were certain that you were right how would you address them?
Q.) Was there ever a time when somebody not only disagreed with your point of view but also persuaded others, leaving you behind? If so, what did you do?
Q.) Did you ever have to deal with somebody because they tried to make you look stupid? If so, what did you do?
S.) The other day my boss made a suggestion that I thought was so dumb. If he followed through with what he wanted to do it would have cost him a lot of business. So, I decided to share my concerns by using a model that Jesus demonstrated in Revelations 2:2-6 and it worked to persuade him.
S.) In a meeting the other day one of the teachers made a suggestion that we agree to not allow a child to fail but rather to allow them to do make up test until they get a passing score. I strongly opposed because that would put a burden on the teachers rather than for the students to take responsibility. This particular teacher argued that it made the school look bad if we didn’t raise the test scores and that some of us could lose our jobs. I lost the argument when the others agreed to go along with him but made a personal decision to prepare my students for testing.
S.) I remember when I first learned about tithing. I was a new Christian and was ready and willing to do everything the Lord showed me about following His ways. Friends and family tried to convince me that I needed the money more than the church did. Though that was true, I told each of them that if I was going to trust God with my destiny that I needed to trust Him with everything including my money. I confessed that I didn’t see how He could sew the holes up in my pocket when I obeyed this tithing thing but that I was willing to allow Him to prove it to me.
If you had the word “assertive” on your first list and “passive” or “aggressive” on your second one you may engage in conversation by asking some of the following questions or by making some similar statements to find out which character identifies the other person.
Q.) When you are in a group of people who are talking about doing something illegal or immoral what do you do?
Q.) If your peers claim to favor a politician because of their gender or race rather than agreeing with the candidates convictions what would you do?
Q.) If you saw a parent in the grocery store hitting their child and calling them names what do you do?
S.) When I was in high school a friend of mine went through the lunch line and paid for one milk shake but took two. She told me what she had done and offered it to me. I told her that I was thankful that she thought of me but that I didn’t want to accept something from her that ultimately would get her in trouble.
S.) During the last election I was asked if I was going to cast my vote to help get the first female elected for president. I responded by saying, “I will not only cast my vote but will do all that I can to get her elected when a female runs for office that shares my personal convictions”.
S.) One evening I was having dinner at a local café. At the next table sat a male, female and a toddler. The child plunged into the basket of fries as soon as the waiter put them on the table. Both adults began to slap his little hands and the male called him “grubby fingers”. The tone was hard and sharp as the adult female yelled, “You wait until your own food gets here!” The male ate the fries while teasing the crying child. It was a long two or three minutes before the waiter showed up with the mac and cheese for the child.
If you had the word “loving” on your first list and “fearful” or “guilt driven” on your second one you may engage in a conversation by asking some of the following questions or by making some similar statements to find out which character identifies the other person.
Q.) How would you handle a situation where the same person asks to borrow money again and again but never repays it and, though their needs may be legitimate they are also known to be irresponsible with their finances?
Q.) What do you do when you have a really good friend that needs your help moving on the weekend but you have been roped into and have already agreed to baby sit the same day and time?
Q.) What would you do if you were a plumber and somebody really needed your help and could not afford to pay you? Let’s say they had no running water and could not bathe or flush the toilet, let alone have any fresh water to drink?
S.) It seems you repeatedly have a financial need. I would be willing to help you out one more time if you will allow me to help you set up and work a budget.
S.) I really want to help you move on Saturday but I am already committed for the day. If you want to move on another day I will be happy to help.
S.) I see that you have a need that I can help you with. Can we set up a time for me to come over? You will not owe me anything but you may consider how you could help somebody else, even if it is just giving them a smile.
If you had the word “brave” on your first list and “coward” on your second one you may engage in a conversation by asking some of the following questions or by making some similar statements to find out which character identifies the other person.
Q.) If you happened to see a house on fire and you knew there were people inside what would you do?
Q.) If you were out in the park and heard a woman screaming and saw a man hitting her what would you do?
Q. What would you do if you saw a man trying to kidnap a young child?
S.) Years ago I noticed a house that had smoke rolling out of the back wall. I quickly stopped the car and ran up to the house as I dialed 911. Being daybreak I could imagine that the family may still be sleeping so I banged on the windows and rang the doorbell again and again as I yelled, “fire”! Fortunately, they did wake up and get out on time.
S.) I was sitting in the park one day just reading a book when I heard some loud arguing. As I turned around I noticed a couple who was fighting not only verbally but also physically. Though I kept my distance, not knowing if there were any weapons involved, I yelled STOP and at the same time dialed 911.
S.) I heard about a man who tried to kidnap a little girl in Walmart the other day. She kicked and screamed which got the attention of a few shoppers. An older gentleman and a teenage girl speedily plunged towards the abductor and began to beat on him and wrestled him to the floor. They held him down until the police arrived while the little girl was reconciled to her mother.
Hopefully these few examples along with the ones from last week are sufficient for showing you how to interview another in such a way that allows you to learn what you need to know before making a serious commitment.
Next week be sure to tune in to learn how to deal with the issues that arise from negative character traits discovered before or after a relational commitment.