A Wise Man’s Tool

14 Feb

I want to give you a very powerful tool for dealing with what you think are differences of opinions or conflicts with others. It is not a gimmick or a trick. It is instead an expression of a servant’s mindset and I have found that it is has the power to turn many difficult situations around.

Here it is:

At the beginning of a discussion, ask a question.

Take the statement you are about to make about what the other person is doing or thinking and turn it into a question instead. This is especially important at the beginning of a discussion. For example, say you are a husband and you are watching your wife and you have noticed that she seems to be parenting in a way that is opposed to your basic philosophy of parenting. Instead of confronting her immediately by saying what you are doing is against my philosophy of parenting, turn it around, and approach her asking, here’s what I am trying to do as a parent, what do you think about that? What do you think what you are doing is different and if it is not different, can you explain how you think it matches with our basic philosophy?

Why is this important? Simple. What happens when I begin a discussion by making a statement about what I think you are doing wrong? I put you in a defensive position immediately, especially if I haven’t gathered enough information and the statement I am making is inaccurate. Plus when I ask a question, I am getting more information that will help me speak to you in a way that will meet you where you are at. I will learn whether you are doing what you are doing out of ignorance, or because you are hard-hearted, or because you just haven’t thought about it very much.

Obviously at some point you have to take out the question marks and speak very directly, but to avoid being foolish, make sure that you have enough information to speak accurately, by turning the statement you are about to make into a thoughtful question.

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