because of their own hang-ups. At any rate, they wanted to hear more!
One of the most rewarding things in all the world is to relate well to other people. You can build great bridges, create a masterpiece in oils, compose an oratorio, write a bestseller, go to the moon, invent ingenious machinery; or do many other things—but nothing you accomplish is of much value unless it has relevance to other people.
People are God's masterpieces. He could not be satisfied even when He had created the heavens and the earth and every living thing. So He said, "Let us make man." And God wasn't making a mistake. He created man in His own image (Genesis 1:26). This is how much God thought of man. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons He created man was to have someone with whom He could fellowship, because we read in the Bible that God had fellowship with Adam. God was relating to what? He was relating to human beings.
So, you and I need to do the same. "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity" (Psalm 133:1). One of the greatest things we can learn in life is to relate to other people. And just as we need the right key to unlock any door, so are there keys to understanding and getting along with people.
How Are We Doing?
It's amazing how much we can do these days beyond the sphere of Planet Earth-far out in space-yet how little we are doing right here on our own hometown planet, especially when it concerns relating well to people. We're really not doing too well.
Someone has said that a study of most nations is a study of their wars and turmoil. Some time ago I was in Russia , and I was impressed with many things beside their poor economy. One was that here was a nation which has often been the center of turmoil: wars and killings, and people conquering and destroying one another. In Red Square , for example, I saw a "killing block" where thousands had been slain on the spot. As one Russian leader has said, "In Russian our hearts seem broken and we're always crying!" And while the United States has won the war in Afghanistan, several ethnic groups within that country are still in conflict.
Internationally, people have rarely gotten along with others. And even with our knowledge explosion and fabulous technological advances, things are not improving along this line.
Just as we need the right key to unlock
any door, so are there keys to understanding
and getting along with people.
Business, church, and other organizational leaders know that interpersonal skills are important. In fact, they often have a difficult time finding employees who get along well with each other.
Something Can Be Done
Is it a hopeless situation? No! We don't have to endure people; we can enjoy them and they can like and enjoy us.
Although there are millions of people who don't understand others and can't get along, there are millions who can and do. Their lives are happy and radiant. They have learned how to relate to people. And because they do, their lives are richer. Not only do they make others happy; they make themselves happy too.
Of course, most of us do not automatically understand other people. As in every other area of life, we need to grow in our understanding. There are certain helpful insights to be learned. A person does not suddenly become a violinist, for instance, or a physician. So it is if we are going to become specialists in getting along with people. There are some insights and principles to understand and practice.
Even Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, asked God to give him above everything else, "an understanding heart," and perhaps that was one of the greatest proofs of his wisdom!
Some People Try Even a Saint
We cannot always click perfectly with everyone. Even the Apostle Paul said, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18 ). Paul knew that some people were sufficiently difficult to get along with that there were limits on a harmonious relationship.
Where to Begin
If you are going to ignore your interpersonal skills, there's no better place to start than with yourself. A happy, well-adjusted person can get along with people much more easily than if he feels badly about himself. If you are going to click well with people, start by taking inventory of your own personality traits and inquire about your own attitudes.
Let's start with your self-image-your self-esteem. Why? Because the feelings you have down deep about yourself influence how you feel about others. The glasses you use to look at others are the same ones you use to look at yourself. If, when you look at yourself, you are not very pleased, you'll always have some distortion when you look at others.
How do you rate yourself? Here is a checklist that might give you some clues:
- Can you usually take life's disappointments in stride?
- Do you have a tolerant, accepting attitude toward yourself as well as others?
- Can you laugh at yourself?
- Do you neither underestimate nor overestimate your abilities?
- Can you accept your own shortcomings?
- Do you have a good measure of self-respect?
- Are you able to deal with most situations that come your way?
- Is your personality marked by much fear, anger, jealousy, worry, insecurity, domination, withdrawal, or manipulation?
- Do you get satisfaction from simple, everyday pleasures? Or do you have to be entertained?
- Do people like to be around you? Are you fun to be with?
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