Have you ever been in a conversation with a person that had already made up their mind about you without taking the time to understand all the facts? It’s frustrating to say the least. They will often put up their hand or interrupt your explanation because they have already made a determination or judgement about your motives, whether true or not.

It’s easy to imagine another person doing that to us, but what happens when we flip the scenario and we're the ones who have already made up our minds about another? Doesn’t feel quite as justifying, does it?

Sometimes what we think we know about a person or their behaviour becomes an obstacle to reconciliation. When we find ourselves labeling others or putting them into the box of “you always” and “you never,” we miss critical observations because we are no longer curious. Our defenses have been raised and our “relational circuits” turned off.

So how do you know when you've shut down relationally? Ask yourself, “Am I curious?”

The key to restorative communication is curiosity and understanding. When you are authentically curious, you will ask clarifying questions. You will seek to understand the person, rather than judge their behavior. You won’t be passive aggressive, but rather will seek to resolve differences in order to restore your relationship. You step closer instead of stepping away.

The next time you find yourself shutting down a relationship without hearing a person out, step back and allow yourself to better understand them rather than their behavior. You may not be able to change another person, but you will create a climate for honest and honouring conversations that lead to healthier outcomes. Gary Chapman.

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