In the classified section of a small town newspaper, the following ad appeared on Monday: “FOR SALE: R.D. Jones has one sewing machine for sale. Phone 958 after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him cheap.”
On Tuesday: “NOTICE: We regret having erred in R.D. Jones’ ad yesterday. It should have read: One sewing machine for sale. Cheap. Phone 958 and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him after 7 p.m.”
On Wednesday: “R.D. Jones has informed us that he has received several annoying telephone calls because of the error we made in his classified ad yesterday. His ad stands corrected as follows: FOR SALE: R.D. Jones has one sewing machine for sale. Cheap. Phone 958 after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him.” (Wright, Norman. An Answer to Family Communication, Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1977), pp. 1-2).
Finally on Thursday: “NOTICE: I, R.D. Jones, have no sewing machine for sale. I smashed it. Don’t call 958 as the telephone has been taken out. I have not been carrying on with Mrs. Kelly. Until yesterday she was my housekeeper, but she quit.”
As you interact with people on a daily basis, you know that someone is going to eventually come up to you and second-guess your intentions, just as they have before. Prepare yourself for the next struggle. This simple switch occurs in the heart and mind. My dear readers, take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life.
When a supervisor comes up to you and scolds you for something you know is misapplied, don’t react–but simply say, “You may be right.” When a professor does not grade your test properly, don’t react–but simply say, “You may be right.” When your spouse says, “I don’t believe you did x, y, and z regarding that ‘honey-do’ list I gave you,” don’t react–but simply say, “You may be right.” This little phrase, is the beginning of being slow to speak and slow to becoming angry. It not only removes the edge of the conversation, but allows both sides to evaluate both sides of the issue. In my life, I have observed that this is followed up best with a question or two (sometimes seven or eight), that clarifies the issue. Again, this works to evaporate the steam of the emotions involved.