A few weeks ago I walked around the corner in a very busy place and walked by an individual engaged in a rather intense conversation he was trying to keep pseudo-private...I say pseudo-private because if he really wanted it to be private he would have taken advantage of one of the 4 or 5 conference rooms on the floor and closed the door.
Anyway, as I walked by I heard him saying in hushed volume but strained, intense tones, "I MEAN it. This isn't a good time for THIS."
All sorts of things he could have been discussing of course but my first inclination is it had to do with some sort of interpersonal relationship difficulty.
Fair enough, most if not all of us have had disagreements with our friends or loved ones. But I am going to go out on a limb here and say the best of us are those for whom those are rare, hard work goes into resolving them, and one more basic truth.
There really ISN'T a good time for that. Those argumentative moments are a clear indication the process broke down somewhere. Someone was too rigid or insensitive...instead of putting the other person first, they behaved in a manner that led to conflict.
And admittedly those are sometimes unavoidable...different believe systems, for example, can lead to different approaches or beliefs on what is the right answer.
For example, there is a very prominent social issue on which my wife and I do not see eye to eye. My take on it comes from my study of, belief in, and understanding of Scripture. I do not presume to know where she bases her take on the situation from...it is enough to know the source is different.
Our views on it are so diametrically opposed it would be like one person saying "tennis is fun" and the other person saying "tennis is miserable".
Not too long ago she posted a comment about the actual issue on a public forum giving me a couple options; one, I could start a public discussion which, do to the emotional nature of responses that would follow, would become an intense and serious argument.
Or I could take the tact of not responding to it....those who know us both know how we each believe on the subject and can make their own decisions. It has been discussed many times in the past and another time of discussing the same points of view will accomplish nothing. Which is what I said...nothing.
My point here is I believe that was an example of putting the other person first. It would have been quite easy for a simple post/comment to escalate into a major argument, which many relationships encounter.
At the same time, neither she nor I have given up trying to convince the other that their position is wrong. And yes, there is a time and place for it...but those times and places can involve calm, reasoned discussion instead of harsh words, bitter tones, and things said that need not have been.
But there is a further point. The individual who is in a public place...work, the mall, a restaurant, etc., who encounters the phone call to discuss a tension filled issue is at a severe disadvantage in society. The other party in the argument deserves a certain amount of blame for choosing a time and place that hamstrings the other person do to exterior considerations.
A post like this one is always difficult to conclude. There are a lot more things I could say and a lot of ways I could draw it all together. But in the end I guess it comes down to this;
Conflict should be prevented when possible, minimized when not, and dealt with in the proper time and place. Which, by the way, is seldom if ever in public.
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