Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Responding with Gentle Words
Do you ever have to deal with customers who are demanding and unkind? Or co-workers who just love to argue? Or managers who bark orders instead of issuing instructions? Harsh words definitely stir up my anger, and I imagine they have a similar effect on you.
There are moments that test our self-control. If we allow anger directed at us to control our response, we will have allowed a rude person to pull us down to his or her level. That means, of course, that he or she wins, even though he or she was wrong and we were right! It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s how it works.
Offering a gentle answer, however, has the same effect as a slow leak in a balloon. Just as the air gradually leaking from a balloon prevents a sudden loud pop, so a gentle word turns aside the force of an angry word.
Gentle answers often begin with empathetic statements such as: “I can understand how you feel,”. . . “Well, it’s no wonder you’re upset,” . . . or “There’s obviously been a misunderstanding; let me see what I can do.” But sometimes you may need to be more creative in finding a “gentle answer”’ it may involve changing the subject, or ignoring the harsh words and trying to help that person instead.
Gentle answers let others off the hook. Gentle answers relinquish the desire to strike back. Gentle answers accept some blame, regardless of who’s right. Keep your words gentle and kind. Not only does this work well in defusing a difficult encounter, but it also saves you a lot of time and energy.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.