I get my share of letters and emails of disagreement and correction, and I've noticed that at times I'm more open to correction than others. Here are some of the patterns I've discovered that help me be most open to correction. I've discovered that following these tips allows me to be more effective when I need to confront someone else. Here are some things I've learned about correction that I best "hear":
1. Be an encourager. Your correction will be better received if you are one who consistently and sincerely encourages.
The more often that someone encourages me, the more likely I will hear their correction. There are some people that I just know – when I receive an email from them, it will be to tell me something they don't like, and my mind is less likely open to their criticism. I'm not saying that is good on my part – it is just reality. But if someone encourages me regularly, I almost always am open to their correction.
The following is the beginning of an email I once received. Here is the first sentence:
I agreed with most of the sermon. I suppose I could write every week and say "I agreed with everything you said this week," but I try to save us both a little time and only write when I have a disagreement.
Although it made me smile, this person will always have a harder time correcting people if all they do is write when the disagree with someone.
2. Evalute your encouragement versus disagreement ratio to see if it is healthy.
Don't simply learn to encourage. Make sure your encouragement/correction ratio is balanced compared to what you see from the person. In other words, if your child does 90% of things right, and 10% of the time they drive you crazy – then 90% of the words you give them should be encouraging. Most of us don't do well with that ratio. Work on that to be effective in your correction.
As a general rule, try to encourage at least five times more than you correct. I've learned this with parenting in a huge way! If my daughters constantly are encouraged by me, they are much more open to occasional correction.