This proverb is probably not just for critics. It may apply to complainers, insubordinate subordinates, hard headed students, confrontational friends, unreasonable clients, irritated supervisors, and infuriating customers.
It teaches us to diffuse the fuse of the infused and prevent an explosive situation.
It is just good personal and business policy and it comes straight from the book of Provers, chapter 15, verse 1:
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger."
Notice two things that are not promised or stated.
We are not told that anger will not be present or directed toward us and we are not told that harsh words will necessarily create it where it does not exist. That may be true at times, but it is not the application here.
This admonition is about how to respond when the anger is already surfacing and it is coming at you.
Our natural tendency is to react rather than respond, to take offense, plan defense, and build a fence. The wise teacher or Proverbs counter-intuits as he often does. He recommends that we meet hostility with calm words and gentle speech and so take the fire out of the fuse that is sizzling toward an explosion.
Teachers know the power of lowering their voices to gain the attention of a class in turmoil. Customer service representatives are trained in this practice. Good law enforcement officers are skilled at restoring peace and bringing order with a display of quiet strength. All professionals learn that it is best not to escalate a bad situation to the next level of fury and cultivate the skill of the quiet answer.
Is it your desire to be successful or to would you prefer to win a shouting contest?
the promise here is biblically and psychologically sound. When the other person begins to speak faster and louder, counter it by speaking slower and softer. When the other attacks, find a way to receive his or her words with grace. When Someone tries to pick a fight, find a way to build a bridge.
there is no way to instruct the reader in all the techniques in one article. The purpose of this note is to create a willingness to try a better way.
Friends have been shaped from potential and former enemies. Loyal customers have been birthed from the labor pangs of conflict.
It is possible to turn away wrath unless you prefer to stir up anger.
Here's to your success.
- Tom Sims - The Dream Factory