Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Immaculate Perception

"Immaculate Perception" is a phrase I heard used in a class about communication and emotional intelligence given by Richard Himmer at Education Week last year. I thought it was a great way to describe a common problem. We are often so self absorbed that we don't realize that we may not know or understand as much as we think we do about another's failings. Our perception of things is just that - our perception. And it is often too tainted by our limited perspective to be safely trusted. Anytime we become so sure that we know exactly what another person is thinking or feeling, we are in danger of this phenomenon. That kind of understanding comes only after we have been able to humbly ask the kind of questions that lead to understanding. It comes only when our only desires are to truly understand rather than accuse.

This is a great quote that also describes "Immaculate Perception":
"I know you think you understand what you thought I said. But I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant" - Robert McCloskey

Monday, September 12, 2016

How can we have Influence?

I was blessed to be able to attend a sisters leadership training on Saturday night with Elder Christofferson, Bishop Causse and Elder Wilford W. Anderson of the Seventy. It was awesome. Interestingly, though I loved all of it, it was Elder Anderson's words that struck me most. He spoke about having influence and then taught more about it in answer to a question that was asked later in the evening. So here is my summary of what I got from it.

3 observations about how we can have influence.
1. Guilt; guilt is a good thing when it is leads to repentance. That is it's purpose. Godly Sorrow leads to repentance. But guilt can be a terrible thing, a tool of the adversary, when we experience it because of the behavior of others. Guilt is intended to lead us to repentance - we can't repent for others. I may have missed some of his point about how this is connected to having influence except that we can't be consumed by guilt for what others are doing.

2. Focus on the heart:  In the world, influence is thought to flow from important or powerful people but it is opposite in the church. It flows to the righteous not from them. To have influence we need to focus on the heart; we need to bring in light. The economy of God is different from the world. We love God because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) We must use the attributes found in D&C 121 - persuasion, long suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness etc. Scolding doesn't bring light and change hearts.

3. We have time. We can't be in too big of a hurry. It takes time to change hearts. But we have time. We have eternity. It doesn't take much time to change conduct. We can do that pretty quickly if we try to use force. But that doesn't lead to lasting change and often has the opposite effect. We mistakenly focus on conduct and try to force change. We must respect the agency (and needs and feelings) of others.

Elder Anderson spoke of his father. He said his father never answered with a yes or a no to a request to do something. He always asked questions exploring the ramifications of the request. For example, when he asked if he could go camping for the weekend with his friend's family, his father ask lots of questions such as: Do you have some responsibilities at church this Sunday to prepare the Sacrament? Answer; Well yes but I can get my brother to cover for me. Q: Will you be able to attend church on Sunday? A: Well no but we can read a few scriptures and that will be good enough. After asking several other questions, his father would say, "Well if it were me, I wouldn't go." Elder Anderson usually ended up making the right decision.

So here is the key: To fortify homes, we need to fill them with the Spirit of the Lord. A change in desires is what we would like to have happen. We should do what we can to facilitate what happened to the people after King Benjamin's great address found in Mosiah 5:2-3.  - We believe all the words spoken to us. We know of their surety and truth because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in our hearts that we have no more disposition to do evil but to do good continually. We ourselves, through the goodness of God and through the manifestation of his spirit, have had great views of the future.

That's what we want to have happen for our children or for anyone we would like to influence for good. Anger, scolding, disgust (sarcasm, criticism) are just the opposite of what is needed. Ill will offends the Spirit. The Spirit leaves. The Spirit of the Lord is our only hope so we must fill our homes with the Spirit of the Lord. Charity is our best chance at dispelling the darkness. (Charity suffers long and is kind, is not easily provoked, is not puffed up, is not concerned with self interests, doesn't think evil of others, bears all things, endures all things, hopes all things. Charity never fails)