When I was younger one of the hit songs was “If I had a Hammer” by Trini Lopez. I know, I am dating myself. You can watch a live performance of the song at: https://binged.it/2oChE2H
I was thinking about that song a few morning back as I was thinking of some people I minister to who seem to use a hammer to solve all their relational issues. They enter into the situation and just hammer away at people, beating them down and, in some cases, destroying them.
It has been said, “Never use a hammer to swat a fly off someone’s head.” And often we enter into relational conflict to win the argument and not salvage or win the relationship. In other words, don’t put winning the argument over winning the relationship. Alexander MacLaren states, “If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it.” So the question we should ask ourselves and maybe others is: “Would others say I overreact to small things in a relationship?
We need to realize that having the right attitude is more important than having the right answers. We need to soften our approach, listen more, and stop making a big deal out of little things. In other words, put the hammer away.
To put the hammer away we need to consider four Ts…
1> Total picture
Do you come to conclusions long before the problem has been laid out before you? That is a common occurrence for most of us who have strong personalities. That is why we need to train ourselves to follow a process to keep ourselves from hammering people with answers before they are finished asking the question. When someone is sharing his point of view with you, try to:
- Ask questions
- Listen again
- Ask more questions
- Listen some more
- Then respond
You will find that if you slow yourself down, see the big picture, you will be more likely to respond patiently and appropriately.
It has been said, “It’s what you do, not when you do it, that counts.” That’s not always true. If the general doesn’t order the attack at the right time, the battle is lost. If the parent doesn’t get the injured child to the hospital quickly enough, her life might be lost. If you don’t apologize to someone when you’ve wronged them, the relationship might be lost.
When you act is as important as taking the right action. Even knowing when not to act can be important. Someone noted: “The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
It seems to me that the most common cause of bad timing in relationships is selfish motives. For that reason, when little things bother us, our number one objective must be putting our personal agendas aside and building the relationship. If you have examined your motives, and you can be certain they are good, then you need too ask yourself two timing questions:
- Am I ready to confront? That’s a pretty easy question to answer, because that’s really a matter of whether you have done your homework
- Is the other person ready to hear. If you have laid a relational foundation and the two of you are not in the “heat of battle” then the answer may be yes.
People often respond to our attitudes and actions more than to our words. Many petty conflicts occur because people use the wrong tone of voice. The writer of Proverbs states, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Haven’t you found that to be true. If not, try this experiment. The next time someone says something to you in anger, respond with gentleness and kindness. When you do that, the person who spoke harshly is likely to tone down, if not soften, his attitude.
As tempers flare, people are prone to dropping bombs when using a slingshot will do. And that can cause a lot of trouble because the size of a problem often changes based on how it is handled. In general…
- If the reaction is worst than the action, the problem usually increases
- If the reaction is less than the action, the problem usually decreases
That is why we need to follow a simple personal rule. Take thirty seconds to share feelings – and then it’s over. Anytime we let a little thing create a big reaction (one that lasts longer than thirty seconds), then we are using a hammer.
Next time … Trading in your hammer