By the time I was about a Sophomore in High School (15 yrs old) I had begun to pick up on somethings. I didn't enjoy meanness, negativity and drama. I didn't like when people were mean and aggressive toward me. I didn't like being around when people were mean to others. I didn't even enjoy the feelings that I had when I was mean to someone else.
The easy part was deciding to avoid mean and aggressive people and all of their drama. Probably the next easiest part was trying to not be mean and negative anymore myself. But then things got a little complicated. I realized that sometimes people thought I was being mean when I wasn't. I also realized that sometimes I was negative when I wasn't intending to be. Lastly I picked up on the fact that there were times when I thought others were being mean or angry and in all reality they were not. Or at least not on purpose.
For about a decade of my life (16 years old until about 26 years old) I tried to isolate the main components of getting past this mean, negative and dramatic problem. I came to 2 major and many minor conclusions. Today I will only mention the 2 big ones, INTENTIONAL EFFORT and COMMUNICATION SKILLS.
I learned that many people (myself included) have a natural negative disposition. If we just drift along in life and go with what comes natural, we will be very harsh and critical. But I also learned that with information and effort, this can be altered for the better. I began to read about the perils of being negative and read and listen to positive people and realize the affects that it had on me just hearing them and being around them. I remember saying out loud to myself in my truck. "I want to make people feel like these people make me feel."
One of the most unique tools that I have ever worked on has been learning to say something negative that has to be said but saying it in a positive way. I have not been wonderful at this but I have worked on it and over long periods of time, I believe I have done better.
The other thing that I learned besides just seeking out information and putting forth effort, was this; Communication skills are probably the single most important element to not being mean, negative and condescending. Proper communication is key to not complicating other people's lives. The more you communicate, the better you tend to get at it. The more you communicate outside your normal comfort zone, the greater of a communicator you become.
I have probably excelled a lot more in my professional life in these areas than I have in my private life. Because of that, I have spent some time lately working specifically on better communication and more positive relations in my private life.
The reason that I write this today is this. I was driving around town last Saturday doing errands. (Nine days until Christmas). I was mailing packages, picking up donations, giving out little thank you gifts to people in the service industry, etc. And I noticed a pattern. I saw 4 people in line at Walmart, 3 of them were angry and complaining and the 4th was completely oblivious to everyone and everything. I stopped at McDonalds for coffee and there was a person at the counter yelling at the server. I drove about 20 blocks and during my drive I noticed 5 different people on cell phones, with angry expressions and yelling into their phones.
Right then I started praying for people. Just people in general. Then I started thanking God for my wife, kids, staff, church and friends. People that are much more positive than your average Americans. People that I attempt on a regular basis to communicate properly with and teach to communicate well with others. I also asked forgiveness for several times lately that I could think of where I wasn't kind and didn't communicate well. And then...I begged God for my ministry. I asked Him to somehow help us to spread better communication, more hope, less aggression, more stability in relationships and more truth.
My humble musings,
Rev. D. Todd Sloggett