It Matters how we Treat People

….serve one another humbly in love.  For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command. Love your neighbor as yourself.  If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.   

Gal 5:13-15

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The communication cycle works in a circle. As a matter of fact, the definition of cycle is- any complete round of series of occurrences that repeats or is repeated. So, my understanding is this, in order for people to communicate it has to go back and forth, from the sender to the receiver, but then the roles change and the receiver then becomes the sender and the sender in turn become the receiver.   It has to complete a round of series of occurrences; I speak, you listen, you speak, I listen and so on. The cycle is only over when both the sender and the receiver agree that it is over.

This is true in our relationships, it is not just me sending, giving, or taking or you sending, giving or taking, it is a constant back and forth, a cycle. So, when it comes to treating people a certain way both parties have a responsibility, the sender and the receiver both have to adopt certain behaviors and then be prepared because the roles are constantly changing.

You probably heard the 10% – 90% rule? “Life is 10% action and 90% reaction.” When Charles Swindoll penned this, he was referring to attitude, implying that it is our attitude that determines how we handle situations. We cannot control what happens to us, we can only control how we react to these things. A positive attitude will make us happy and contented. He is absolutely right.

However, we have all been in situations where this rule has been applied to the communication process, freeing the sender of all but 10% of the responsibility leaving the receiver the brunt of the responsibility. Meaning that the sender believes he/she can basically say or do whatever he/she wants and it is up to the receiver to not make a big deal about it. The receiver doesn’t have the right to be angry, sad, mad, hurt or to retaliate or in some cases even to respond.

They seem to communicate well

Has someone ever said their piece then hung up on you? What about speaking then turning their back and walking away, not allowing a response from you, thus breaking the communication cycle in the middle? Social media has given us many new ways to only take 10% of the responsibility as sender, we post, tweet, text, email and whatever, with very little regard as to how our words will affect the reader or the receiver.  This is called keyboard courage and there is nothing courageous about it.

Have you ever had someone insult, hurt or humiliate you? Have you ever confronted that person about it? How’d that work for you?

In the proper communication cycle a receiver would have the opportunity and the right to speak their mind regarding the sender’s words. The communication cycle should not be viewed with the 10%/90% split. A healthy communication cycle is, hold on I know this won’t initially add up, 100%-100%.

Stop and listen

Why? Because it matters how we treat people not just how we react to people. Instead of believing that as a sender we only have 10% of the responsibility giving us the right to say and do whatever we want, what if we believed that as the sender we are 100% responsible for actions, in turn expecting the receiver to be 100% responsible for their reactions? Would we treat people differently?

I for-mentioned confronting someone that has insulted you, how did they respond?  Was it the communication cycle at work, sender-100%, and receiver-100%? Or was it the original, sender attacking you for confronting them? Do we sometimes have a right to be angry with others?   Sometimes yes. Sometimes, we can walk away and forget it, but other times it is worth confronting the other party in order to preserve the relationship and to protect ourselves and the people we love.

Bottom line is it matters how we treat people. It also matters how we react to people. If we adopted a 100%/100% split how would our relationships change? If we expected and understood that people may get mad or hurt or upset by our words or actions, instead of just assuming that as sender we can say and do whatever we want and the receiver has to just grin and bear it, maybe our relationships would be stronger and deeper.


Healthy communication is 100% responsibility for how we treat people and 100% responsibility for how we react to people.


“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so, it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.” 

Charles Swindoll



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