I am a combative person. Just ask the people who know me well! I enjoy verbal sparring. The hardest thing that I have ever had to learn–am really still learning–is to wait to respond. I am an emotional person; I take comments very personally at times. So I am learning to weigh my responses more carefully. When upset, I have tried to go through my mind (though sometimes unsuccessfully!) and ask myself the following questions:
- Why did that conversation just upset me?
- Am I overreacting, or do I really have reason to be angry/sad/hurt/insulted?
- If I had said the same thing, what reaction would have been given by the listener?
- Should I say something or let it go?
- What would I gain by saying something?
- Am I responding because I need to or because of pride?
As crazy as it may seem to some, by weighing my response slowly and deliberately in my mind I have gotten pretty good at derailing myself! Even though I love a verbal altercation, I am finding that the old Proverbs is right: A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
How many arguments and altercations could have been avoided in your life by just speaking last? And by last, I do not mean getting in the last word–I mean choosing your response carefully and considering that speaking the loudest may mean not speaking at all. We all want to be heard; however, being heard is not all we should want.
When considering how to respond, we must weigh each opportunity on its own legs. Is it necessary that you be heard this time? Is it more advantageous to be silent and address the situation at a later, less stressful moment in time? Is the intent of the speaker to make you respond emotionally? Is the person just venting, not even requiring a response greater than hmmm or how interesting? By giving each response of yours its own thinking process, you can diffuse many situations that would otherwise mushroom into fights and destroy relationships.
God bless, and remember–life and death lies in the power of the tongue! You have the power to give life by responding appropriately; you also have the power to preserve life by not responding at all! Let the words of your mouth always be acceptable!