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I Love You, Now Change

I have not seen the movie, but I like the title. And I think I understand the meaning behind it. That special someone is very loveable, but - if only he/she would adjust a few annoying quirks.
And, adjust them according to my specifications.

Our business has grown to the point of needing a promotional video to send to prospective clients. We hired a professional filmmaker, scheduled a “Live Taping”, and invited a few people.
After the presentation, one man spoke highly of the speech and how much he enjoyed it. He was genuine and showed me the notes he had taken, reiterating the salient points he was going to adopt. Then he said, “When you get the tape back, you may want to watch it and see if there is any thing you might need to tone down.”

There was a time when that would have offended me. Just as we need genuine encouragement to help us flourish, we also need sincere critiquing to help us grow. I appreciate the reassuring, yet kind way my friend addressed a delicate area. I like the way he made a suggestion, “you may want…”, rather than telling me what to do. I am thankful for the way he invited me to self-evaluate and come to my own conclusion, rather than point out my flaws or highlighting what he thinks needs to be toned down.

What if a person is harsh when he critiques? It is the same principle; helpful information is helpful information, no matter the tone of voice in which it is given, or the words used. We can choose to filter out attitude and supposed hidden agenda, and hear only the words. Then we can honestly consider the message.

Truth hurts only when it is supposed to. If it is an “ouch”, as in I-resemble-that-remark, then maybe you need to think about what you might need to tone down. If you genuinely consider it and come to the conclusion that you were being unfairly judged, then extend grace to the judge, and a healthy self-love to yourself.

I have found that our families are faithful to point out our character flaws. Have you ever thought that it might be because they love you and want the best for you? By the same token, I have found that we can be pretty faithful to point out their character flaws. How can we do it in a way that is more readily received? How can we present the critique in such a way that it will be sincerely considered?

Use a suggestion, rather than an imperative. State an observance in a matter-of-fact manner and ask the person to determine if you are right or being presumptuous. Present your comments in such a way that invites self-evaluation, which can lead to change.

If all the above fails, you be the one to change and love him anyway, warts and all.

This article was originally written for publication Feb, 2004

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