Got Arguing? Want to Stop Some of It?
That wasn’t right.
Her husband, telling a story about one of their kids, got part of it wrong.
Ever been there? Listening to him, knowing his facts are incorrect…
Ever jump in and make it “right?”
Or do you let him be wrong?
Some of us are throwing our relationships on the sword of “truth” – in an effort to be “right” and share what is “true.”
If you are linear in your thinking, what I’m about to suggest will sound like I’m telling you to lie…
But I’m not…
I’m just saying, let someone else be wrong sometimes.
Does it really matter if the car was blue or red? Does it really matter if the event occurred when you went to Camp Petersburg or Camp Holliday? Or when your son was 11 or 12?
Think about how it makes others feel when you correct them – especially when it is done in public. Think about how it makes you feel.
Dare you today to follow this great advice in Proverbs 17:
9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
19 He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction.
27 A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even tempered.
28 Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent and discerning if he holds his tongue.
Understand this: interrupting others to get the facts right is often perceived as disrespectful, and few people like to be corrected in public. This may very well be our own desire to control reeling its ugly head.
So let others be wrong sometimes – stop majoring in the minors and having the critical spirit of the perfection police.
IF the content actually matters a lot (which often, it really just doesn’t, but sometimes it does) then ASK A QUESTION, instead of saying, “You’re wrong, it was…” or, “That’s not right, it was…” Instead try, “I might be wrong here, but for some reason, I remember it differently – were we doing XYZ (or whatever)?” Or “I might be mixing up the details, but didn’t he say to pick up the car on Friday before the long weekend (or whatever)?”
I have heard people say, “I can’t just sugar coat things, I’m a straight shooter.” Or, “I’m not going to handle him with kid gloves, I tell it like it is.”
Understand that having good people skills is like climbing a ladder – at the very bottom is “telling it like it is.” As you climb up the ladder, you move through “please,” and “thank you,” and the “language of respect” like “asking questions,” and “not criticizing,” and “encouraging others.”
You can’t stay at the bottom of the ladder if you want to improve your relationships and do conflict well. Those are higher level skills.
You can also ask a question later about the facts – “Baby, was your mom visiting in October? Or was it November? I thought she came right before Thanksgiving last year.”
And if you live with someone who constantly corrects you, do two things:
- Try to get the details right. Try harder to tell the truth.
- Look at it as an opportunity to be long suffering and as a help to killing your pride. We ALL need practice with this, and understand that our perfection police officer has a deep desire to control typically because he/she lives in fear. That’s worth some grace on our part.
- If the correcting is frequent and interfering with your other relationships, it might be time for a gentle Matthew 18 confrontation. “Honey, I need your help with something. I know you are concerned with me getting the details right – and I’m working on that. I need your help with our teen sons, however. They respect me less when they see you correcting me as frequently as you do, especially when I’m in the middle of talking. I would prefer that you correct me privately later, instead of in the middle of a discussion, unless it immediately impacts something actionable. I will go back and let them know the real details later, but I find that it undermines my authority to be corrected by you this frequently in front of them. Will you help me with that?”
Dare you to “get off the bottom rung” today! I know, it can be hard sometimes! I have spent too much time there, myself. 🙂
So glad you are on the journey with us!
Love to you,
What about you? How do you keep from “shooting” others with your words? How is God growing you in this area?
Nina, you are right on the money with this. I have been one of the Perfection Police for most of my life. I always felt that if I didn’t correct something that was wrong, I would be giving my tacit endorsement of what was said. I operated under what many call a huge amount of self-condemnation.
The last year or so, however, God has been showing me that I was doing this. I am very thankful to report that I don’t do it much anymore (at least I’m not aware that I do it).
It is so much more polite to let people have their say, rather than your always correcting them. As you pointed out, you are actually belittling someone if you always correct them. But if you let them have their say, you are respecting them.
Thank you for the kind way that you pointed this out.
I am deeply saddened that someone would read anything & be encouraged or moved to stay in a situation like this woman. But we can pray…………..and I most certainly will. As a minister’s wife, I would never encourage someone to continue on in this type of relationship. I suppose I am a little naive, perhaps, when it comes to knowledge of spousal abuse. I have THE most loving, attentive, loyal, forgiving husband in the universe. I also know that I have become so accustomed to this lifestyle of love & acceptance that I may forget there are others who suffer minute by minute. But, I can pray. My daughter is in an abusive relationship. She’s been married for almost 12 years. I pray that God will open her eyes & help her see a way out. Unfortunately, she is so beaten down by her husband, she has no self confidence. I honestly do not ever see her leaving. But I can hope. And I can pray. And I do. I will also be more mindful, when praying for my daughter, to pray for all the others I do not know that are suffering the same & worse.
This is very interesting because I noticed that my mom did it with dad and me, and then I noticed that I did a lot with John. Thought you’d enjoy this. Love you Chris
I think someone brought this up on the FB page the other day about being “genuine” and how you need to answer immediately and be in the moment. But I think your ladder analogy was great and really shows – especially for blatant truth tellers like me!- that discerning when to be silent and how to show grace are about maturity levels. Beautifully said.
Ugh. I just did that yesterday and made myself look foolish. Thanks for the reminder! I have learned to let a lot of things go, but I obviously have a lot to learn yet.
I am guilty of doing this when I feel someone is being misrepresented, especially, my children, Not so much when they are there, in person, to defend themselves, but when they are not, I feel that that person is being dishonored and I guess, somehow I feel it is my job to be their defender? I will try and apply this whenever possible, I know it will be hard, I am the equalizer and peacemaker, but I am learning, correcting has nothing to do with peacemaking, loving and grace are Key. Great article.
And Kim, please know that it totally depends on what God would have you do. I know what you are talking about – you don’t want to let this person think badly of your child, friend, husband or whoever, especially when you know differently!!! I have found it best to listen first, empathize second, saying, “Sounds like that was hard for you…” and then waiting for an opportunity or a later time for God to open a door to the truth about that person’s character. “I was thinking about that thing you said yesterday about how underhanded you felt so and so was. What a difficult situation for you! I wanted you to know, however, that my experience of him is a little different – and I’m not saying you are wrong, I just haven’t seen that side of him – so I was just going to ask if you could extend a little grace in this case…” Or, “I was thinking about what you said yesterday about so and so, and thought you might not know that she actually…” (said gently, sweetly, etc.).
SO very glad you are here!! 🙂
Love to you,
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