Hammering Home Your Point

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:
Listen
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.
2> Timing
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.
3> Tone
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.
4> Temperature
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.
We looked at the four Ts of preventing a crisis when dealing with relational issues. Let’s talk about trading in your hammer and then treating people with dignity and respect.
Some people seem to think that a hammer is good for anything and everything. I guess you could say they take a hammering approach to life. This attitude is most often observed among high achievers. When they give something their full attention, they go at it full bore. That’s usually a good approach to tasks. It’s a terrible way to treat people, however. As psychologist Abraham Maslow observed: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” People require more judicious treatment than that.
If you desire to develop a softer touch with people, take the following advice to heart:
1> Let the past stay in the past
Resolve an issue when it occurs And once you have done that, don’t bring it up again. If you do bring it back up later, you are treating someone as a nail.
2> Ask yourself, is my reaction part of the problem?
When a person’s response is greater than the issue, the response is about something else. Don’t make things worse by overreacting.
3> Remember that actions are remembered long after words are forgotten
If you have a high school diploma or college degree, can you recall the message the commencement speaker delivered at your graduation? Or if you’re married, can you recite your wedding vows from memory? I’m guessing the answer to both questions is no. But I bet you do remember getting married and receiving your diploma. The way you treat people will stay with them a lot longer than the words you choose. Act accordingly.
4> Never let the situation mean more than the relationship
I believe that if I had not made my relationship with my wife a higher priority than always being right, we might not be married today. Relationships are based on bonding. The more important the relationship, the greater the bond.
5> Treat loved ones with unconditional love
Because ours is a society with lots of broken and dysfunctional individuals, many people never had good models of unconditional love. In “The Flight,” John Whit shared his perspective on where we fall short in our treatment of important people in our lives: “We gossip because we fail to love. When we love people, we don’t criticize them. If we love them, their failures hurt. We don’t advertise the sins of people we love any more than we advertise our own.”
6> Admit wrongs and ask forgiveness
Chicago mobster Al Capone reportedly said, “You can get farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” Despite the humour, I can tell you this: forgiveness is better. Admitting you’re wrong and asking for forgiveness can cover a multitude of sins. That approach is also one of the best ways to try to make things right when you find that you’ve used the hammer when you should not have.
The problem with most individuals who use the hammer all the time is that they may not know that they do it. If you might be one of them – let some people who know you well hold the mirror and tell you what they see. If you don’t believe them, do the same with your loved ones and friends. If you do that, you will find out whether you treat others as people or as nails. If you do the latter, then you need to make a change.