My Golden Rule of Speaking in a Context of Relational Conflict

Avoid the second person.

In conflict we become afraid and fear makes us defensive. Sometimes we are afraid for our safety, often we are afraid for our reputation or our self-image. We immediately look for the faults of those across whatever line has been drawn. The flaws of our adversary, the person or group who is causing us pain, real or imagined is completely obvious.

We adopt a posture of superiority, of one who knows and either in anger or some sort of imagined love decide the other does not so we will inform them.

Of course the situation looks the same, but opposite to the other and the do the same thing. The ordinary and expected then ensues. The fault lies with the other. I have less blame, less responsibility for the conflict or calamity and the burden of fixing the problem is on the other. This of course makes me helpless and indulges in me comfort of self pity and the self-righteousness of playing the victim.

Now in writing this I have of course in a backwards way violated what I am trying to avoid. This should demonstrate how helpless I am against this relational habit. So forgive me. Be gentle and patient with me. I will again, try to stick to the first person, and not the second, and realize all of the ways that I fail to love you well and treat you as the image bearer of God that I profess you to be.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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