This morning as I continue on in my series of posts on “Life skills for growth” I want to introduce the life skill of the “Community Temperature Reading.” I learned this skill at the “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Conference” that I attended last April. The goal of this skill is to create a healthy culture through (1) Sharing positive aspects about one another (2) providing language that decreases assumptions and judgments and encourages exploration (3) Being honest about negative things impacting you, suggesting possible solutions in respectful ways and (4) keeping current with what is going on in one another’s lives.
There are five parts to the “Community Temperature Reading.” Let’s look at them:
1. Appreciations or Excitements: Appreciations are about the positive aspects of life together – what is good about others or what they have done. Most of us live by the rule: “no news is good news.” If nothing negative is happening, then we see little need for communication, expressing appreciation for people only when they go above and beyond the call of duty.
Scripture invites us to see people as image bearers of God who share in His beauty. On a practical level we can reflect the beauty of others,whether its family members, friends, co-workers, neighbourhood acquaintances, etc. through expressing appreciations of them.
Excitements give us a chance to express that which delights our souls. “I’m excited about having this week off to ‘chill’”; “I’m excited that my work project will be finished this week”; I’m excited to begin a work project this week.” The sharing of excitements give us windows into one another’s soul’s.
2. Worries, Concerns or Puzzles: People often do not express worries or concerns for fear of appearing inadequate or stupid. We hold them inside ourselves and then make erroneous assumptions about people and situations.
Puzzles are close related to worries and concerns. It is easy to jump to negative interpretations about events going on around us. Yet Scripture teaches us to “judge not, lest you be judged.” Expressing a “puzzle” enables us to avoid assumptions, negative interpretations, and judgmentalism.
If there are things you don’t understand (or need clarification about), ask. Sharing our worries, concerns and puzzles prevent unhealthy assumptions or faulty thinking from turning into unnecessary resentments.
3. Complaints and Recommendations: The purpose of complaints and recommendations is to help each person be aware of and take responsibility for the small irritations and annoyances that arise every day. When they are unspoken, they can become a painful wound. When spoken poorly, they can become destructive. The intention is to help people take responsibility for their worries and concerns and share them maturely. This is not about arguing about or solving concerns but to hear each other, learn to negotiate and perhaps agree to disagree. Here the person with the complaint takes responsibility for coming up with a possible solution, speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:25). We invite you to use the format, “I notice … and I would prefer …”
4. New Information: This can take many forms – events, appointments, new decisions, achievements, opportunities, activities. This ensures no one feels excluded or passed over. Relationships can only grow when people know what is happening in each other’s lives – the trivial as well as the important. In addition, when we are heard, we feel validated and better about ourselves.
5. Hopes and Wishes: This moves to the immediate future. A hope is not verbalized has little chance of being fulfilled. Many of us have not learned to talk about our hopes and wishes and yet they are significant parts of who we are. Sharing hopes and wishes are windows into your unique soul. Family life, in particular becomes richer as we support and listen to each other’s hopes and dreams.
I have used this skill in my church a number of times. I want to include this skill in my family life as well. Let’s do a “Community Temperature Reading” of the readers of this blog. Let’s look at number five: What are some of your hopes and wishes right now?
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