"Barter: to trade by exchanging one commodity for another."
Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
Bartering. If you're a woman, then you've done it. Guaranteed. The very term conjures up some interesting and colorful scenes in our minds. Think back to early days of our country's history when money was scarce (er), what did women do? They traded one commodity for another. One's own valued item for someone else's. Whether it was a chicken or its eggs, a cow or its milk, women instinctively understood the importance of bartering both wisely and prudently. It would never do to simply give away one's treasures without also receiving something by way of return. If a woman was careful and conscientious, she would walk away feeling encouraged and uplifted. By day's end, both participants were recipients, more important, both were gainers.
If on the other hand, you had specific need, be it material, emotional, or spiritual, and no one with which to make a connection.... for direction, for guidance; then you'd end up in dire straits. Periodically stranded, isolated, or emotionally adrift, it's no wonder women have found sure comfort in the company of their fellows. Who better to commiserate with over the silent pains of relationships gone awry? Career detours or even job elimination? Health or financial throwbacks? It is here, in these common-life seasons of sorrow where women's innate instinct to reach out shine brightest. One word of caution, a giver's mentality is a "given" in the world of bartering. Whatever the circumstance, bartering is the means to mutual constancy, strength, support, and a camaraderie that knits one female to another. As women, we live lives of intersection. And not only were we born to become experts at it, we are blessed because of it.
Constructive Communication: Where Bartering Begins
Build a relationship by looking for opportunities to gently enter another woman's world. Look for common interests, goals, or similarities. Start with simple gestures of kindness and as trust slowly builds allow the friendship to take on a life of its own.
Accept others, as you would like to be accepted, unconditionally. Realize that affirming another person's value doesn't equate to agreeing with all her choices.
Respect the fact that two people will never agree on every issue. Develop an active listening mentality; be proactive in attuning yourself to truly hearing what someone else is saying. Seek to understand the struggles in her world.
Tell friends the truth. Speak constructive words that are going somewhere, intent on a specific purpose or outcome, yet tempered by grace. Remember the power words wield, never heavy-hand another woman with this tool to simply make a point.
Exercise a "what are the possibilities not the limitations" mentality. Encourage a forward movement mindset and pass it on. Refuse to stagnate in a specific place, position or circumstance (cheer your friends to the same).
Responsibly consider making suggestions (and offer tangible help to make changes happen) for a more healthy life spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Encourage decisions that bring life and wellness to your friend and walk alongside her, applauding her efforts day by day.
About the Author:
Michele Howe is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly, FaithfulReader.com, Aspiring Retail and has published over 900 articles/reviews. She works as a manuscript critique editor for the Christian Communicator and writes on women's health issues for the Toledo Free Press, Monroe Journal, CBN.com, SingleMom.com, ParentSuperSite.com, CatholicMom.com, and Radiant among other publications. Howe has also published eight books for women including: Going It Alone: Meeting the Challenges of Being a Single Mom, Prayers for Homeschool Moms, Prayers for New and Expecting Moms, Prayers of Comfort and Strength, Prayers to Nourish a Woman's Heart, Successful Single Moms, and Pilgrim Prayers for Single Mothers