Let’s talk about arguing, what it is and how it gets started. When we understand why an argument occurs, we’ll know what to do to avoid it.
1. Why do people argue?
People argue when they can’t get others to “see” their point of view. They think, “If I can just explain this a little better, the other person is bound to agree with what I’m saying.”
But in reality, people aren’t listening to what you are saying, they are simply trying to get you to understand what THEY are saying.
So back and forth it goes, until a heated argument ensues because neither person is willing to “hear” what the other is saying.
What is God’s solution to this?
God’s solution is COMMUNICATION.
Communication is LISTENING and acknowledging the other person’s point of view even if you don’t agree with it! Communication is NOT getting the other person to understand your point of view.
Biblical precedence can be found in Philippians 2:4. It says:
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
2. What do you do when communication is NOT happening.
The reality is that even though we may know what communication is, the need to be UNDERSTOOD is so great that we just keep on trying to get the person to “hear” what we are saying. We keep on talking.
This approach will ALWAYS lead to an argument. When this happens the ability to move the conversation forward comes to an end. As a result the conversation needs to STOP.
The Biblical precedence for stopping the conversation can be found in Proverbs 10:19. The New Living Translation puts it this way:
Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.
Instinctively we know this. What hurts is the WAY arguments are stopped. They’re stopped when we walk out of the room and slam the door. They’re stopped when we cut people off and hang up the phone.
While this stops the conversation, it doesn’t stop the conversation in a way that assists the ability to achieve communication. ANGER becomes the issue. The ends you were hoping to achieve get diverted by anger and hurt feelings.
What can you do to get the conversation back on track?
3. When the conversation stops, FORGIVENESS must be at the top of your priorites.
Forgiving someone does NOT mean that you are condoning the believes, opinions or actions of others. It simply means that you want to get past the hurt so you can resume communication.
How do you get past the hurt?
For your part, you let go of it. You give it up to the Lord without expecting recompense from the other person. One prayer might be:
“Lord, I’m frustrated in this. I’m sorry for the hurt I’ve caused but I’m also angry about the hurt they’ve caused me. I know Satan wants me to keep this going— he wants me to demand recompense. But I also know I won’t ever get what I really want unless I learn to love. You’ve taught me that love always seeks truth and hates evil. So help me to hate evil. Help me to protect this relationship. Make the relationship more important than me and my point. Help me to trust, hope and persevere in you. (1 Corinthians 13:6-7). I don’t want my anger to side track my ability to communicate with this person, so in your strength help me to forgive. Heal my hurt.”
If you pray this with a sincere heart, God will release you from your hurt and anger. You’ll be ready to resume communication and LISTEN to what the other person has to say.
The thing is, not everyone is willing to put aside hurt. There will be people who refuse to forgive without an apology or are very slow in forgiving.
What do you do?
Depending on who it is, you may NEVER be able to discuss the same topic again. For instance, if it is a co-worker, they may never forgive you. As a result, trying to re-discuss the same issue would be a “hot topic” for them. The best thing to do, is to act forgiving around them. Talk nicely to them and remember in future conversations to LISTEN to what they have to say. Reflect their interests (Philippians 2:4). Ask God to remove any pride you may feel. Have a sense of humility.
Spouse or Good Friend
If it is your spouse or a good friend, try to explain to them that they aren’t condoning “your” sin if they forgive you. Do this only when you have truly forgiven them (released them from having to say they are sorry). Wait for God to do His work.
It is important for everyone to remember— God won’t forgive us unless we forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15).
Remember, when communication stops, forgiveness is what has to occur before communication can resume. No one can communicate when they are mad.
4. There are 2 steps to communication: clarity and harmony. With these you can find agreement.
By listening (communicating) to people, your first step ISN’T to find agreement. You don’t even have to LIKE what the other person is saying. You just have to be clear in what they are saying. Ask questions to get CLARITY.
When you are clear about what someone is saying, ask God to give you ideas about what you can do to find HARMONY.
Harmony is about the complimentary aspects of two different yet distinct notes. Gaining exact agreement isn’t necessarily the goal. Finding the complimentary aspect of two distinct ideas is. Harmony ensues when each person is allowed to express how they feel without being condemned and where both people work to find harmony within the context of their thoughts and feelings.
Harmony is not about concession or compromise. Harmony is a give-give scenario, not a give-take scenario. Each person gives their own contribution and then works toward finding a harmonious solution.
Again, not everyone you talk to will understand this or be willing to cooperate with you in finding harmony— but this is YOUR goal (Romans 12:18).
If you cannot find harmony in communication then the conversation must stop. To push forward will only lead to confrontation and anger once again.
Example of Harmony
My wife an I recently visited Disneyland. The morning after our first day there, I was chomping at the bit to get into the park— my wife was not. She wanted to sleep in. Rather than get upset or insist that she do what I wanted to do, I attempted harmony.
“Honey, do you think it would be alright if I went to the park without you for a few hours? You could call me and we could hook up when you are ready? It will give me a chance to see some of the things you may not be interested in?” I said.
“Of course! That will work out fine. Enjoy yourself. I’ll call you when I’m ready!” she said.
Perfect. Two distinct notes. Agreement in HARMONY.
You can do the same. Don’t always looks for strict agreement on an issue. Explore harmony. If it works, love is expressed. If not, end the conversation and change the subject. Not every issue will be resolved this way, but God can begin to expand relationships and open doors when you are sensitive to love.
In the end, we ask ourselves what is the foundation for communication?
The foundation for communication is Christ and the example He set for us. Denying Himself he took up the cross. Philippians 2 says:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but EMPTIED HIMSELF, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Communicating effectively means EMPTYING ourselves. It means listening to others. Ultimately, effective communication leads to love as others feel empowered.
May God work in your life.