There are certain ways to hold a conversation about any given subject, along with certain rules that apply to having a discussion on a matter where two opposing people are attempting to interact on opposing ideas and opinions. The rules of logic are important for obvious reasons, but I’d like to suggest that there is another extremely important principle that would help many people in their ability to communicate.
I enjoy discussions that involve conflicting opinions and ideas. It’s what makes America a wonderful place to live and it helps, in my opinion, to strengthen our beliefs, especially when it comes to theological convictions and the pragmatic approach to living our lives as followers of Jesus. Yet when I have discussions with certain Millionen people, there is one statement that is guaranteed to cause me to lose all interest in the conversation and to slowly find my mind drifting to new horizons. This statement is not only evidenced through words but often through actions. For instance…
“I know what you’re thinking” or “I know where you are coming from” or “I’m aware of your opinion” are all examples of this attitude. It generally shows itself when one begins to interrupt another’s statements in what is supposed to be a discussion. Let me give you an illustration of how this occurs:
Person #1: “I really believe that blue is my favorite color.”
Person #2: “I think red is the best color.”
Person #1: “Well, I believe that blue is a great color because… Radios [interrupted by Person #2]”
Person #2: “I know what you’re going to say, but red is the best color.”
Person #1: “Actually, I was going to say… [again, interrupted by Person #2]”
Person #2: “Trust me, cheap NBA jerseys I am aware of your opinion, you’re just dead wrong.”
Thus, our conversation ends and no mutual understanding actually takes place. But, if you are paying attention, you’ll notice cheap NBA jerseys the following:
(1) Person #1 was never arguing that blue was the best color, just his/her favorite color;
(2) Person #2 continued to interrupt Person #1 so that Person #1 was unable to clarify, for the sake of further discussion, that he/she was not implying that blue was the best color;
(3) Person #2 gives us a perfect example of the negative results of making continued assumptions, which are rooted, in my opinion, in pride.
(4) The statements “I know what you’re going to say” and “I’m aware of your opinion” are evidenced by continued interuption. In other words, when someone thinks they know another person’s opinion, this belief is followed up with the action of interupting a persons statements, ignoring their clarifying remarks, and arrogantly demeaning their part on the conversation.
Thankfully, this does not reflect the majority of the conversations that I have the opportunity to be a part of. It is just a frustrating mark on the minority of the discussions I have. Yet, when it begins to occur, my eyes begin to roll back, my ears become plugged, and I begin looking for the first opportunity to remove myself with the hopes of better thans (e.g. washing my hair, shaving, listening to repeated sounds of finger nails scratching chalk boards, ?? etc.).
Furthermore, Thanksgiving! I find it extremely and convincingly interesting that in no less than 99% of the times that I have observed this conversational faux pas, the person who plays the role of Person #2 (we’ll call them “The Interrupter”) does not have a clue about what they are talking about. The sad thing is that rather than learning from the conversation, their blind arrogance prevents them from gaining any ground in the subject.
This past spring I had the privilege of attending the Conversational Evangelism Conference. One of the speakers (I wholesale jerseys believe it was Todd Hunter) had really encouraged the attendees to “seek to understand rather than to be understood.” This was not a new statement, for many missional folks and evangelical minded folks who were interacting within a post-modern culture have encouraged this very thing. Yet, more convincing to myself is what a certain apostle wrote some 1900 years ago:
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” – James 1:19
When James exhorts us to “hear,” he uses the Greek word akouo, which does not simply mean that we should hear the sounds coming out of another persons mouth but that we should listen and try and understand what they are saying. This, in turn, will help us to resist anger, which James contextually connects to our ability to listen to others.
In order to be a bit more balanced and perhaps truly biblical, I “end” want to implore those of you who can relate to Person #1 (we’ll call them “The Communicator”), do your best to maintain a humble spirit and do your best to listen to the other person. While I was humorously stating that I generally want to Photo get out of the conversation, I must clarify that I will do my best to look for opportunities to bring a positive element back into the conversation. This does not always happen, but we can certainly try. If anything, we can learn what not to do when discussing issues with others.
What do you think? Do you do this? Is this done to you? What if we do know wholesale NFL jerseys the other person’s opinion or position? How can we continue a positive conversation?
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.
Luke, I find this method of argumentation to invalidate any meaningful communication. Discussions that head this direction are almost impossible to recover, though I’m sure some may disagree.
This is probably why formal debates always have a moderator 🙂
Yeah, it invalidates the conversation. Yet, if you wait long enough you might find a logical fallacy spring its head up (ha ha). I mean, if you allow the other person to demonstrate the flaw of their logic than its much easier to pin point it. Actually, hopefully they demonstrate it and then discover it in the process and case closed!
Someone once emailed me the following debate rules and suggestions:
i actually do this all the time when i’m talking to luke – he he he.
good insight man, good insight. I think christians do this all the time when they talk to non-christians. we cut them off and ignore their ideas. are there any good books out there that would help me because I’m sure I do this?
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify God which is in heaven.”
Like I narrated in my post under “Congrats to Obama!” my co-worker was being unreasonable and unrelenting. Therefore, no one wanted to hear what the “crazy Christian” had to say.
Those points you list above, Luke, are very good. The two that stand out to me are Avoid the use of Never and Avoid the use of Always. These are the hardest to do (especially when you are “discussing” something with your mate, aren’t they? “You NEVER do the dishes, you ALWAYS say that…”
But the other one that is a very important one to remember when speaking with a non-Christian is “Attack the idea not the person.” I have an Atheist co-worker who I work side-by-side with every day. He is a “good guy” – very intelligent – and only brings up his convictions when asked about them or they come up in a conversation. If you listen to him and his reasoning behind his beliefs (or non-belief), he sounds like a reasonable person that has logically thought his position through. There have been times when I have been able to state my Christian opinion in an equally respectful manner and we have great discussions over it. You have to respect the other person, even though you don’t agree with his philosophy. (He has actually begun accepting “Bless you’s” when he sneezes- he was opposed to that at first. He’s wearing down! ;-D
I’ve lived a decent life (67 years) and have had this done to me, observed it done to others, and just plain done in myself more than I’d care to mention. But as I’ve grown in age I’ve that a soft answer turneth away wrath. The Proverbs are a good place to begin in understanding what some call the “rules of engagement.”
Mrsdoemrx, be encouraged! It is a delight to hear of the inroads you are making with your atheist friend. As Luke noted, perhaps you can both learn something through the discussions.
Dr. Glazer, what a wonderful insight. Maintaining a humble spirit is very important. Thank you for your wisdom… especially for those of us (me) who are young and in need of constant reminders!
You are a blessing as well.
People are silly. I don’t like confrontation so I tend to stay quiet but I can imagine it would be hard when people don’t listen well, like most men that I know 🙂
Just kidding with you, Luke.
I just received in the mail.. and read (in one sitting) a book by Brad Bright – son of Bill Bright – Campus Crusade for Christ..
Title: God is the Issue.
http://www.DiscoverGod.com – I think it can be downloaded for free.
(1) Roll Over (2) React (3) Reframe – In his interaction with people – Jesus Reframed 95% of the time.. eg. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Ceasar? Bring me a coin!”