Take Out Your Interpersonal Earbuds to Create Sweet Spots for Connecting
We all have metaphorical earbuds that we are using as interpersonal barriers of relationships. Sometimes, those “earbuds” are intentionally put in place as we are zoning out and keeping ourselves solitary. Other times, they’re in place without our conscious knowledge. Regardless, though, they are leading to missed opportunity.
Consider the following scenario from the book, Next Door as it is in Heaven: Living Out God’s Kingdom in Your Neighborhood by Lance Ford and Brad Brisco:
…the Lord prompted me, ‘Take out your earbuds.’ I thought ‘Wait a minute, I really like this song!’ But I took my headphones out and laid my iPhone on the counter. As Scott (I learned his name that day) walked toward me, I asked him what had happened to his leg. He proceeded to tell me about his knee replacement surgery. Since that day, every conversation Scott and I have at the gym is deepening our relationship. I don’t know what God is doing through that relationship, but I do know he is doing something that wouldn’t have been a possibility if I hadn’t listened to the Spirit and listened to Scott instead (P. 136).
This is a very simple example of removing an interpersonal barrier. However, it shows a valuable lesson: that if the writer had not taken out the earbuds and acknowledged the fellow at his gym, they would have never had that first conversation. And that would not have led to a next conversation. And without conversation, there is no communication and no relationship.
I obviously cannot speak for Jesus, but I suspect he would tell you he values relationships way more that putting “a thousand songs in his pocket” to make a soundtrack for his life.
Recognize the Interpersonal Barriers Your Create or Sustain
Putting our earbuds in has become a universal sign of for indicating to others that we are enjoying our “me time” and don’t want to be bothered. As a person who MUST sometimes take flight to spend time in my own thoughts before I can face some interpersonal interactions, I understand this need. Really, I do.
It’s healthy to get alone time. Although, it’s not healthy to spend the vast majority of your time focusing inward. God created us to be social beings. To interact, react and thrive upon relationships. I think it’s the very reason he delegated to us the duty of sharing the Gospel. In fact, he never once told us to learn and hoard the Gospel for ourselves. That knowledge is not power. But sharing that knowledge is powerful in many contexts.
Instead, he told us to go forth and make disciples of all nations. That’s true, regardless of skin color, gender, race, etc.
What other “earbuds” do you use to keep yourself at a distance from others? Or perhaps more appropriately, to keep others at a distance from you?
- Are you checking your social feeds and emails on your phone when others are nearby?
- Do you stare at the floor to encourage people to not sit next to you?
- Ever intentionally not listen to or learn about others so you can’t interact with them?
- Do you make yourself look the part of being “too busy” to be interrupted?
- Is it extraordinarily difficult for people to reach you?
There are a lot of ways we create interference. Look at your personal behaviors and habits to see if there are any areas that might be causing it.
Find Ways to Create Interpersonal Welcome Mats
Instead of interpersonal barriers, start thinking up ways to bring down those barriers. And then, take it a step further than that even, and turn them into interpersonal welcome mats! As Brisco later says in the book:
What an awesome example of tearing down barriers. Not only does he take out the metaphorical earbuds, he is laying out a metaphorical welcome mat for his neighbors. He’s saying, come on over. Commune with us. Share your life with us and we want to share ours with you!Find your sweet spot for #connecting - Take out your earbuds and layout the welcome mat. Click To Tweet
About Chad Gramling
Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He's the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.