Proverbs 17 verse 1 says, ‘Better a dry crust with peace and quiet, than a house full of feasting, with strife.’

i’m hoping there is a feasting with no strife option, but in the meantime i think i will reach for the dry crust. to Answer without Arguing feels like it belongs hand in hand with Speak without Accusing. and perhaps if person 1 speaks without accusing, then person 2 will be more inclined to answer without arguing.

i find the statement ‘answer without arguing’ a little vague without context. are we in a fight? are we just talking generally? because i think there might be some subtle differences depending on what we’re talking about.

and i definitely think this can be a tendency thing – some people simply tend towards arguing. you probably know someone like that. a person who almost does not have the ability to say the word “Yes” without following it up with a juicy “But…” [if that person is you, then i definitely think this is something you can work at and change, but i imagine you would need strong accountability and really invite people who love you to call you out when you are doing this, so it might be a bit of a bumpy road, but well worth it]

one of the dangers of arguing when i answer, is the possibility that i have been busy constructing my ‘really great argument’ while you have been making your point and so i probably have not fully listened to your point completely in the first place which is both a little rude and also increasing the possibility of my argument not fully relating to what you said.

possibly a great way forward in this would be to change the title to ‘Answer without arguing in the moment’ which encourages listening fully to what the person is saying to you, and then if you feel differently, choosing to take some time to think more about it and then if you still feel differently, to perhaps bring it up at a different time. [very easy to type…]

people like to know that they have been heard. maybe even less than they ‘need to be right’. and so one way to Love people in conversations that feel like they might be heading towards an argument or a differing of opinion is to make sure you are vocal and clear about having heard the other person. one way to do this [and to help avoid confusion] is to repeat back to them a summary of what you think you have heard them say [this invites them to correct you if for some reason you heard something different to what they intended which can help avoid unnecessary argument] and give that time to settle before launching into your “But…”

another way of showing Love in a conversation that might have a differing of opinion is to be careful of the words you choose so that your opinion is expressed more as ‘this is what i think/feel/believe’ and less as ‘this is an Almighty God declared Truth’ [which is a lot harder to argue back against, or even feel okay about thinking differently on]. take a stance that leaves space for you to be wrong [i mean, i know you’re not, of course, cos that would never happen, right?] but invites the other person to consider your point of view [but still feel free to hold on to theirs if they do]

as i seek to answer without arguing, may both my conversations and my relationships with people become richer as i realise and live out the fact that loving a person well is better than winning an argument or appearing right.

how do you do on this one?

[to move to the next one on Sharing without Pretending, click here]

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