Sunday, August 03, 2014

A Gentle Answer Turns Away Wrath

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

Angry words and actions find their way into the church just like anywhere else. The angry person could be member of the church or a stranger. Angry situations can quickly escalate into violence, even, homicide. There are some steps that church leaders can take to calm angry people and protect the flock.

The first step is to calm yourself. Take a deep breath. Don't let the other person get under your skin. You need to be calm to properly assess the situation.

Choose your battles wisely. It is not necessary to address every perceived wrong. Let minor things slide. Will your actions advance the gospel? God calls us to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly.

Be respectful at all times. Don't respond with anger or sarcasm. Speak softly, using I rather than you statements. Avoid judgments, accusations and absolutes.

Don't let your body language reveal your tension. Uncross your arms, relax and avoid gestures that may be seen as aggressive.

Let the other person speak first and listen to what the other person is saying. They might rant for a few minutes and get what they need to say off their chest. A person is more ready to listen when his rage is spent. Make sure they know you understand. Use active listening techniques to clarify what you’ve heard.

Stay focused on what you want to happen. Don't get caught up in side issues. Ask for what you need in clear and non-accusatory manner. Let the person have the last word. They will probably leave as soon as they had their say.

You can protect yourself from a violent assault by maintaining distance. You can also create a barrier by sitting down across a table. The act of sitting also helps to calm things.

Never touch an angry person! This can quickly turn an emotional situation into a physical one.

If you feel that a person is out of control or bent on violence, call 911. A person who is impaired by drugs, alcohol or mental illness can be unpredictable and beyond the capacity of a non-professional to handle. However, your calm demeanor can help prevent an escalation.

Most cases involving anger are minor issues that can be quickly resolved by listening and staying calm.

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