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Shifting your Goal // Part 2

Solomon tells us in Proverbs 12:15 that “the way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” Usually, anger gets heightened because both parties think they are right. Remember, let your goal be to understand the other, not to get your own way or change the other person to do what you want. Because we all have our own individual personality, values, and up-bringing, we will have different opinions and diverse ways of doing things. Naturally, we will easily think our way is better. By seeking to understand one another, we will better be able to grasp why the other thinks, feels, and acts the way she / he does.

In the heat of an argument, we often share our surface feelings. But these often are not the underlying reason why we are behaving and feeling the way we do. Try “mirroring back” to the person what she said, which means to say “I hear you saying” and then repeat back the exact or nearly the same words. This helps you to pay better attention to her rather than just your own feelings. It also helps her to know that you are listening. Usually, as we mirror back what was said, this will lead the other person to respond with something even deeper. At times you can add something like: “Please help me to better understand why you are feeling this way.”

After you have let the other share her thoughts and feelings, share your thoughts on the matter. Try to avoid blaming or accusing the other person. Say something like “I felt _________ when you said / did __________. It would help me in the future if you would _____________. Again, try to avoid speculations or opinions of why you think she did or said something. Just share the actual facts, your feelings, and what would help you in the future. Also shy away from words like “always,” “every time,” and “never.” Using extreme words heightens, not decreases tension.

As Proverbs 12:15 says, we need to go into a conflict with a heart to listen and take advice. Even if the person is not a believer, the Lord may want to use him / her to help you become aware of something in your character or an area in which God wants you to trust Him to change. “Pride only heeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice” (Proverbs 13:10). As I said earlier, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with patience, gentleness, humility, and love during times of conflict. Having a humble heart before God and others, rather than an “I am right and you are wrong” attitude will greatly lessen the intensity of the conflict and help to bring resolution.

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