As I continue this year’s trek through Scripture, today’s reading (Proverbs 17-19) included several verses that aligned with advice I’ve given as a leader. In order:
Don’t allow a conversation to escalate.
The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so quit before the quarrel breaks out (Proverbs 17:14, English Standard Version).
When a dialogue starts going awry, it should stop (or move on to another, non-energetic discussion). Almost never must you complete a conversation right then. Let things deescalate, and then deal with it when both parties have cooler heads.
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion (Proverbs 18:2).
This is advice I need myself. Over and over. It is amazing what I learn when I listen. Not only that, it’s also amazing how it improves your working relationship with others when you listen and can prove it (because you truly were).
The more you feel like saying something, don’t.
If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame (Proverbs 18:13).
Kind of Listen part two. Generally, if three seconds into someone speaking you feel an overwhelming desire to respond…well…then you haven’t been listening since three seconds in. 🙂
Now, since we are already in Proverbs…how about a couple of bonus bits of business communication advice?
If you talk a lot, you are probably saying something wrong.
When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent (Proverbs 10:19)
Hopefully at work its less that you are sinning then (by babbling) you’ll probably say something dumb (which is what I do). But, there is a decent chance you’ll sin too…
Just be nice.
A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1)
I kind of like the New International Readers Version translation:
A gentle answer turns anger away.
But mean words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1, NIrV).
Sure, this final advice is probably just like my first one, but you can see why I like Proverbs 15:1 in “A Grumpy Person’s Kryptonite.” You can get along with even the most miserable people if you are nice to them…and maybe even more. Don’t be mean. Be gentle.
And now off to veggie dogs for dinner. 🙂
Addendum for July 20, 2014
Not surprisingly, today’s Bible reading continues the good business communication advice:
Stay out of it.
It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife,
but every fool will be quarreling (Proverbs 20:3).
I don’t think I need to add anything to this one. 🙂
Don’t assume you are right.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart (Proverbs 21:2).
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in plenty of conversations (at work and otherwise) where I was so sure I was right only to find out how absolutely wrong I was. One sure fire way for this to be true is to assume the worst of your “opponents” and their opinions.
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
keeps himself out of trouble (Proverbs 21:23).
Now, I have also given advice to my employees about being too quiet (you need to speak and lead when people would expect you to), but I think there are a ton of folks who can join me in confirming the wisdom of Proverbs 21:23.
Don’t make excuses, do something!
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
I shall be killed in the streets” (Proverbs 22:13).
One of the blessings I’ve received from my employer is leadership training from DDJ Myers. I will forever thank Peter for forcing me to start asking, “What am I going to do to change it?”
Don’t be a victim of circumstances. Make an impact!