The Four Basic Skills for Life part 2

Last month we learned that there are four basic skills that when mastered could eliminate up to 90% of our problems in relationships. These skills are:

  1. Following Instructions
  2. Accepting “No” Answers/Criticism
  3. Disagreeing Appropriately
  4. Accepting consequences

We have already covered the steps to skills #1, 2 & 3. Let’s get started by going over the steps to skill #4. 

Skill #4: Accepting Consequences

The six steps to accepting consequences are:

  1. Look at the person giving you the consequence. Eye contact shows respect and helps you listen. It is the first step to accepting a consequence. 

  2. Have a calm face, voice and body. Staying calm while receiving a consequence is no easy task. This is a hard one for many of us. All the more reason we should be practicing our skills regularly to help prepare us for when we really need the skills in life. Take a moment now to visualize what you want yourself to look like, be like and speak like when you are calm. 

  3. Say “OK,” or ask to disagree appropriately. Saying “OK” lets the person know that you accept the consequence and will do it. You may ask to disagree appropriately if you feel that the consequence is not just, could be better, or you have some other information that might be helpful to the one giving the consequence. For example, “I understand you want me to wash the dishes but I’m in the middle of making cookies. May I finish that first?” or “I understand that you want me to weed in the garden but I have my town clothes on. May I change my clothes first?” 

  4. Perform the consequence immediately. We haven’t really accepted our consequences if we keep putting it off or don’t do it at all. 

  5. Check back when the consequence is done. It is important for the one giving you the consequence to be able to assess if you have adequately done it. If so, he/she can give you positive feedback – encouraging words. 

  6. Drop the subject. Both the one giving the consequence and the one receiving the consequence will need to practice dropping the subject. That means that they don’t hold a grudge or ill feelings toward each other for either the misdeed or the consequence given. They can move on and forget about it (they won’t bring it up again and again). 

Practice Makes Perfect.

Many of us have not learned to use these skills effectively in our relationships. If we want to be able to use them well, we will need to practice them regularly. Through practice the skills will come more naturally to you when the situation arises in which you need them. The best way to practice is with a partner (a friend or family member), or do it as a whole family. (If that is not an option, you can practice on your own just making up what the other person would be saying to you). Now role play a situation that you know you have faced in the past. Make up the setting or scenario together. Choose the role each of you will play. One will be the instructor/giving a “no answer” or consequence, and the other will be practicing the skills. You may want to drill each other on the steps for each skill prior to practicing. Once you’ve role played reverse the roles and do it again (changing the scenario if you want to). This is fun and it helps you get used to what it feels like and looks like doing these skills. It will also help you remember the skills when you need them in real life. 

How to Give Correction

Now we will go over how to give a proper correction. This may primarily fit a parent/child situation but many of the skills could also be used by any person in authority over others (a boss with his/her employees, church leaders with church members etc). 

Steps to giving a proper correction. 

  1. Describe the situation. “Just now…” Use descriptive language instead of accusatory language. “Just now you looked at me and said OK but you didn’t do what I asked immediately.”

  2. Explain rationale – Give a reason to change that will matter to them. “When you don’t do the task immediately you have broken trust with me. I know you want me to trust you.”

  3. Consequence: “Because you… (didn’t do the task immediately) you have earned…” and give the consequence. Work, like giving an extra chore, is often a very effective and redemptive consequence. Remember that work is one of the best ways to develop a good character. 

  4. Give them praise or words of encouragement. “You really made an effort to stay calm and accept your consequence and it has paid off!” or “It must feel good to accept your consequence like you did”.

  5. Practice 3 times. If necessary, practice the scenario a few times to make sure they have got it right for the future. Roll play: “I’ll be you and you be me…” 

  6. Encourage them for doing the practice: “Your voice tone was so calm…” or “You did the task immediately just like I asked”

Now you have the steps for the Four Basic Skills for Life. It is up to you to put them to use. Remember that by mastering these skills you will solve many of the problems and challenges you face in relationships. Regular practice will make them a part of who you are and will help you develop self-government. By doing this you can retrain old habits of response into new ones that will be more life-giving. We all want our relationships to flourish and this is one way we can water them.