Words of Hope: Gentle Impact
I read a brilliant insight from the Gottman Marriage Minute. What I love about John Gottman’s research is that it is immediately applicable to any relationship. Need a better relationship with your child? Improve your positive comments, appreciation, and kindness. Need a better relationship with your co-worker? Make sure your task requests don’t supersede your encouragement. The recent recommendation from Gottman’s research is that a negative interaction is much more significant than we imagine. This is helpful for all aspects of life. Working at camp, we see this principle firsthand. An athlete can have an amazing week, and then not be selected for All-Star and feel the entire week was ruined. In the restaurant business, a person can have a hundred amazing meals and then one terrible meal and the relationship with that restaurant most likely will be over.
Dad had a big personality which tends to have more of a positive, or at times, negative impact. Small personalities make less of a mess but less of a transformation. Dad understood the absolute necessity his big personality required. This was a lifelong work for him to listen more, speak with gentleness, create less of a negative impact with tone or demeanor. He sought out “gentle” men to learn from and imitate because that was not his natural skill set.
I also aspire to a gentle response, a kind start-up, a loving interaction in conflict rather than heightened intensity in my voice and face. I have had to work to soften my face which can look stern and intense to my daughters. It is amazing how the research always rings true. Love changes us. Gentleness is a gift of the Holy Spirit and requires the seeds of listening, slowing down, curbing intensity, and working hard to never leave even a fleeting negative imprint on the lives of those I love.
“Let your gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near.” – Philippians 4:5