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When the Bathroom Is Crucial

posted Sep 5, 2017, 7:44 PM by Melissa Navratil
by Pastor Gary Walpole

“Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

The hotel door opened and the two young teens made a b-line toward the bathroom. A family of four had just finished a long, hot day at Disneyland which included drinking a lot of water. Once in the bathroom they quickly started to argue about who would use the bathroom first.

“You got this?” the mother said. “Yes,” dad replied. She walked out of the hotel room and headed toward the public bathrooms.

Upon the close of the hotel room door dad said, “You two figure it out. Here’s the rule, no hitting or kicking.” He went over to the tv remote control and turned on ESPN. A few minutes later mom returned, “Your turn, how are they doing?”

“It seems they’re still debating who will go first,” he said as he got up and walked out the door. Mom went over to the laptop on the table and started reading their hometown newsletter.
A few minutes later dad came back through the door. “How goes the bathroom battle?” “Still no peace treaty in sight,” mom smiled.

Finally, the two young teens came out of the bathroom each slamming down on a different bed with a loud huff.

“You two relieved?” dad asked.

“NO!” came two simultaneous shouts.

Without looking up from the laptop mom asked, “So how long do you think you were in the bathroom?” “Too long!” came one reply. “Forever!” came the other. Dad looked at his watch. “Twenty-five minutes,” dad said into angry filled air.

“Don’t you two need to go,” one of the teens said. “Already did,” mom and dad said together. “No way,” the two teens shouted together. “Yes way,” mom and dad said together as they burst out laughing. “There’s a bathroom right down the hall,” dad said, “fifty some people could have used the bathroom in the time it took you two to use ours.”

The next day, upon returning from Disneyland the family was hit by the air conditioning as they walked through the glass, electric doors of the hotel entrance. “Race you to the bathroom,” one teen said to the other, taking off for the public restroom. The other faked running and then turned to the parents, “Don’t worry, I got this. There are plenty of toilets in that restroom.”

Sometimes conversations are more crucial than others.

Crucial conversations are discussions “between two or more people when 1) stakes are high, 2) options vary and 3) emotions run strong.1” We all engage in such conversations. Here are a couple things to be mindful of before and during such conversations.

1) Crucial conversations are not about what we think but about how we feel. Often, we start a conversation with what we think, not realizing how we feel or how the person we are talking with feels. Effective conversations begin with the heart, not the head. A crucial conversation is successful only when there is openness to compassion between all those participating. We cannot have a crucial conversation with someone we do not care for or respect.

2) A crucial conversation depends on developing and drawing on a shared pool of meaning. A crucial conversation means truly understanding what values, principals and life experiences shared and which are not. A crucial conversation cannot happen until there is a common sense of safety, for all involved, to draw upon. This happens as we remind each other of what we have in common, of what makes this an important conversation to have. The purpose of a crucial conversation is not to change someone’s mind, it is to develop a shared pool of meaning that allows feeling to bubble to the surface. “A shared pool of meaning is the birth of synergy.2

3) Seek first to understand and then be understood. A crucial conversation often has long pauses with feedback to make sure everyone is understanding each other. In crucial conversations, some of our deepest fears come to the fore, often unknown and unstated. With compassion and safety room is made to realize our own fears and work through them. In crucial conversation’s it is important to allow our deepest fears to become conscious so we can understand how they affect our relationship’s. Being mindfully of our own feelings is the beginning of allowing others to acknowledge their feelings.

Like many conversations, crucial conversations are often ongoing, with needs for long pauses and breaks. Some are lifelong conversations, at least the most important are.

Once we understand the depth of our own feelings, and provide an emotionally safe place for conversation; become caring, willing, vulnerable and open to honestly understand the depth of our own fragility as well as others we can have any type of conversation. Like Jesus we can honestly say, “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”
1This comes from the bestselling book crucial conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High, 2012 by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler.
2ibid, pg. 25