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relational velcro

I can remember when having a pair of shoes with velcro was considered cool; I can foresee another time in life when having shoes with velcro will be practical!

Velcro is used in a variety of products and settings because it’s an effective way of linking together two objects.  It’s replaced zippers, shoe laces, and more.  It has the familiar “ripping” sound when pulled apart.

When it comes to relationships, compliments and criticisms are like velcro strips … once we’ve said either one, we’re linked to the person on the receiving end.

  • Compliments reinforce and rebuild.  A well-placed compliment recognizes a strength and reinforces it.  It takes latent potential and brings it closer to the surface.  It also rebuilds, breathing new life into a damaged relationship or wounded dream.
  • Criticisms live on in the heart well after they’ve left the mouth.  Intentional or unintentional, they fasten themselves to previous hurts or attach themselves to doubts.

Not all compliments stick like velcro; to do so, they must be genuine. Insincere compliments may stick more like a wet bandaid than a strip of velcro.  At some point, it becomes more of a nuisance than a blessing.

Not all criticisms are out-of-bounds.  Accountability requires critical thinking and the ability to communicate necessary changes in a way that is clear and careful.  Perhaps the difference lies in having critical thinking skills or simply having a critical spirit.

At home or at work, choose your words carefully because you may be applying velcro.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Dustin says:


    From a leader-follower interaction standpoint, the transformational interaction and connection you speak of happens when leader speaks into the life of the follower. They may do so with genuine compliments or criticisms, which first require listening and perceiving, keeping in mind that not all criticisms are negative.

    In the case of Jesus, the leader may accomplish both through the same story or parable, leaving how the message is received to the mind of the follower. Leaders today can wrap criticisms with compliments, for example, in attempt to make a criticism come across more positively to create a lasting effect or they may also take the time to craft stories that illustrate the lesson to be conveyed with hopes that the follower will draw the applicable conclusions themselves… (1 of 2)

  • Dustin says:

    (2 of 2)
    In either case, the types of interactions that will have a lasting effect are those in which the leader speaks directly into the follower’s life. Jesus accomplished this most effectively through the use of parables. A parable gives life by encouraging those who hear and perceive its message with joy or by convicting those who hear with a desire to change. It can also fall on deaf ears and curse those with closed minds and hearts who refuse it.

    Thus, the power of a leaders’ parable is conveyed in the spoken word but made complete in the interaction of the follower with the words. The leader desires to bless all who hear their message, but the choice to be blessed by the leader’s words resides with the follower. The reason followers choose one over the other is based on trust.

    In personal interactions, maybe the sound of velcro ripping is the sound of broken trust…?