Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Gentle Response

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Prov 15:1)

I receive a fair amount of communication, announcements, snail mail, email, forwards, voice mail, text messages, and phone calls. I read a lot of newsletters, Blogs and web sites. I hear a lot of interaction in person.

I am exposed to many situations both inside and outside the church. And, I do understand human emotions and the challenge of conflict resolution. I've seen so many situations where a conversation gets out of control and hurtful words are said in a moment of anger -- all because a leader didn't know how to (or chose not to) defuse the situation with a gentle answer. I have learned from my own mistakes.

I wonder how many staff members have been fired and friendships completely severed because neither individual knew how to minimize the damage through carefully chosen words? I meet people all the time who won't even speak to a former leader because of the pain.

If you were able to reverse time and observe the conversations that preceded a broken relationship -- I wonder how many times we would find that this one Bible verse was ignored.

How great would it be if leaders could remember:

- You don't have to say everything that comes into your head.
- You don't have to have the last word.
- It actually helps if you seek first to understand ... rather than to be understood.
- Email is a very bad tool for resolving conflict. It almost always escalates the tension.
- Phrases like "you always" and "you never" are rarely helpful.
- Questions are almost always better than statements.
- You really don't know it all.
- God has the ability to speak to others also.
- The issue is probably not the presenting issues. If you listen, you might learn the real issue.
- It doesn't matter how obvious it seems, you do not know everyone's heart.

[from LeadingSmart by Tim Stevens]

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