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Containers: How We Communicate Our Message Matters

When we have children we start to learn quickly how much the "how" matters. The other day David, our son, asked for orange juice.

As I poured the orange juice (content) into the green cup (container), he very angrily expressed how I put it into the wrong cup and how he wanted it to be in the orange cup. He was unwilling to drink it out of the green cup.

I'm thinking, he asked for and is getting the orange juice why does it matter what color the cup is? To him, at that moment, the type of cup mattered more than the orange juice itself.

This is not so different than us.

Have you ever had a friend, boss or spouse tell you something about yourself that was hard to hear?

Were you so upset or hurt about how (Container) they said it, you missed what (Content) they had to say?

Many of us have a hard time accepting the 'content' when how (container) it is shared offends us. In many cases, we respond emotionally as a gut reaction thinking later there was no truth to what they said because of how they said it.

So, what if we could learn to drink from a purple cup when purple is a color that disgusts us? What if we could learn to grow when our spouse or friend says something that hits a nerve?

It's easier said than done. When it comes to the people we care about most it almost seems impossible. As difficult as it may seem, know when we make the commitment to embrace the 'what' regardless (within reason) of the 'how' we can become a catalyst for growth in our relationships.

For those of you sharing truth, criticism or feedback consider asking the recipient if and how they would like to receive it. When we do this, we set up a better environment for true reception and reflection. Being intentional about our 'how" minimizes the likelihood it becomes a distraction to "what" is really important.

Where are you too focused on the "how" and not enough on the "what"? 

Hero Photo by Chris Scott on Unsplash

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