Impossible Conversations


Around the house, I’m fond of saying, “Good people can make bad decisions.” I say this because I’m aware of my past misdeeds and my continued capacity for misjudgment.

However, out in the real world, telling someone that you believe they made a bad decision can have unpredictable outcomes => especially with people who have not come to terms with their own role in a situation.

If you feel cornered, and have been asked for your opinion, then here is a useful fallback…

I will never know the facts. What I do know is I believe in forgiveness and want the best for you and your family.

You’ll preserve the relationship and can move on.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to associate, do business or live with someone.

Forgiveness means you free yourself from the burden of carrying around the past.

By the way, I’m reading a book called Impossible Conversations.

My #1 “unhelpful” conversation habit is parallel talk – both out loud and in my mind. I have a bunch of other habits that hold me back but I can’t tackle too much at once!

The book is worth your time.


Giving Men Feedback

A correction from parent, or spouse, always has the potential to be emotionally tough for the recipient. In my own life, I need to be aware that I will want to push back or withdraw. So I need to be conscious of my tendencies.

Being aware of my automatic responses gets my head straight for feedback. Next, I acknowledge that I want feedback, particularly ‘bad’ news. Why? Because my goal in life is gradual improvement. I will never be perfect but I can strive for the best version of myself. The most useful feedback will always be slightly painful.

I also know that the people to whom I am emotionally vulnerable accept me and think I’m terrific. So feedback is never designed to pull me down, feedback is meant to make me even more fantastic!

NOTE: many people get caught in a habit of making “jokes” that are based on undermining the target of the humor. This is poison to a relationship and a sign of our own insecurities manifesting in a desire to pull people down.

While I want to improve, feedback needs to be limited. For example, in our home we got into a pattern of constant correction with our daughter and that spilled into everything else. We saw the problem and attacked it by removing gossip from our house and carefully picking where we want to offer correction.

I also think that time spent with other couples is useful. We had dinner this week with a man that had an arranged marriage in the 1950s. He talked generally about the tragedy of marriage without love, but he was talking about himself. Then we chatted with a couple that had a son my age and the husband was bragging about his wife, after 45 years of marriage! Heart warming. The combo made me grateful, then inspired.

My tactics to influence change…

  1. First and foremost, I need to be willing to offer my time to a situation. If I don’t want to spend time, then I forget about having any ability to influence.
  2. Next, I need a long period of building trust via serving the other person’s needs. By helping people achieve their own goals, I learn about their values and their approach.
  3. Gradually, I might offer one or two tips that might help the individual achieve their own goals.
  4. All the while, I acknowledge our individual right to live our lives the way we want and the fact that my ‘way’ isn’t best. There is a wide range of successful lifestyles in the world and my choices are no better than other people’s.

Some final bullet points about coaching your husband in life…

  • When I’m truly beyond reproach then criticism falls away. Therefore, when it triggers a reaction, I pause and search for the information embedded in the info.
  • Most men crave acceptance – constant low-level correction sends a message that your man is fundamentally not OK.
  • I get more of a kick from honor but that’s probably because I’m deeply accepted by my family. Maybe there’s an insight there – to free your man to become honorable, accept what’s best in him.

Remember to aim for nine positive interactions for each correction you offer. You’ll find this discipline improves your effectiveness and how much people like you! It also gets you focused on creating a habit of enjoying your man, rather than spotting his imperfections.

Finally, if you really want to change the world then focus on improving yourself. When I overstep the boundaries of trust, I’m reminded of this truth.

Acceptance and self-improvement are powerful forces in a marriage. In many ways, my wife and I create the person to whom we’re married!

Look inward with your own desires and your actions in your marriage. If you are driven by acceptance then correcting your spouse can set up a pattern that works against your emotional needs.