This equation encircles our CommuniStar diagram like a wedding band. It reminds us that possessing communication skills alone doth not a successful relationship make.
Repeating what your partner has said may be a loving demonstration of your desire to understand his or her viewpoint. On the other hand, merely mouthing back their words while you grind your teeth waiting to demolish their arguments proves only that you have good short-term memory (and possibly TMJ problems).
A desire for payback is a normal human response to emotional pain. But the CommuniStar is not designed to be flung at our partner like an Oriental martial arts weapon. Its usefulness lies in getting us in touch with ourselves so we can give our partner an accurate portrayal of our internal world. Yet even communication “experts” fail to connect with one another when they want to vent their emotions more than to hear their partner’s point of view. Alan and I (Pauly) were once told by a friend listening to us argue, “Your skills are great, but your attitudes stink.”
And he was right. We both needed to repent of our pride and desire to “win” at the expense of our relationship. The Lord calls us to “regard one another as more important than [ourselves]” (Philippians 2:3). If we truly “have that attitude in us which was also in Christ Jesus,” then we are well on our way to an “accurate exchange of information for understanding. (Not winning.)”
When our attitudes are right, we both win.