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The Win-Win Principle: Be Sensitive

The Win-Win Principle: Be Sensitive
  • Sensitivity is essential in the building of worth-while relationships.

When Paul said to Philemon, “Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting” (Philemon v. 8), he was essentially saying, “I could be bold and order you do the right thing.” But this people person was sensitive to the fact that people do not like to be bullied through coercion or compulsion. The best way to win them is through consideration and cooperation. Paul could have played the win-lose game, but he resisted that temptation. His desire was that all three of these men would emerge as winners when all was said and done.

Instead of being sensitive in relationships, there are some who like to give orders and make other people squirm. Some are foolish enough to think they win by taking this approach. The easy thing for Paul to do with Philemon was to call in his chips and order Philemon to do what he ought to do. But Paul resisted. There was no hint of a command. In fact, he appealed to Philemon on the basis of love and with a high degree of sensitivity, saying,

For love’s sake I rather appeal to you.Philemon v. 9

Any other approach would have caused guilt or a grudge, with a damaging result to all three of the relationships.

  • When sensitivity becomes a lost word in our relational vocabulary, we have eyes for our side of the issue only.

Paul was extremely sensitive to Philemon here. His goal was a long-term, continuous relationship with his trusted friend. Consequently, he was sensitive enough to realize that if he muscled and maneuvered his way into this breach, both Philemon and Onesimus would end up losing in the end.

The fact that Paul reminded Philemon that he could pull rank in the issue was not lost in his sensitivity to the delicate matter, which he would soon broach — that being, to receive Onesimus back, and not as just a servant but as a “beloved brother” (v. 16).

Paul had already encouraged Onesimus, the offending party, to do what he ought to do. This meant to face up to his wrong and go back to Philemon in a spirit of general remorse and repentance, making restitution and asking for forgiveness. Next, Paul turned to Philemon, the offended party, encouraging him to do what he ought to do. This meant to forgive and receive the repentant Onesimus “no longer as a slave but more than a slave — a beloved brother” (v. 16).

How many relational breaches would be resolved if we would simply do what we ought to do? At home. In the office. In our social circles. The first step in developing relationships in which everyone involved ends up winning is to be sensitive, to walk in the other person’s shoes for a while.

Some people live a lifetime with few long-term, lasting interpersonal relationships because of their desire to control and command others on their own terms. The lack of any semblance of sensitivity to the others’ feelings and needs is too often prevalent for many of us.

  • If you are in a relationship with someone who always has to be in control, who issues commands with no sensitivity to your own needs, you are headed for trouble, no matter how much you continue to live in denial.

The first step in paving the way for win-win relationships that are genuinely, mutually beneficial is to be sensitive. It may take two to tango, but often in relationships one person doing what he or she ought to do — being sensitive to the other’s needs — can start a new beginning in which everyone ends up on the winning team.

Be sensitive.

Excerpted with permission from The Connection Code by O. S. Hawkins, copyright Dr. O. S. Hawkins.

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Your Turn

We’re not built to control others. Others are not created to control us. Sensitivity in relationships leads us to seeing the other point of view, the other side of the issue. For love’s sake, let’s live like Jesus and be sensitive to those around us! ~ Devotionals Daily