Do you know how to listen to people when you are mad at them? I find it difficult. Well . . . maybe I listen, but I don’t hear them. At least not in a way where they feel heard, and until they feel heard, they aren’t going to listen to me either!
According to the New Testament writer, James, I need to pay attention to this bit of wisdom:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19 NIV).
So I guess that means I have to put on my big girl panties, set aside my emotions for a few minutes, and really listen so I can hear what a person is trying to communicate.
Since zipping my lip is not my regular practice, I’ve developed a mental recall exercise for those moments when I’d like to say some choice, unchristian like words to certain people. It helps to calm me down so anger isn’t my first reaction.
How to listen when you are mad
1. Take a few minutes and describe how does it feels to be wrong about something. If that is difficult for you, think about a recent argument you had with someone. A person made you feel wrong, and it didn’t feel good. You argued. What description would you give to those feelings of “wrongness?”
Ugly right? You probably felt invalidated, disregarded, “less than,” and a host of other negative feelings.
2. Remember those feelings.
3. The next time you are in an argument with someone, recall those feelings, but not so you can marinate in them. Recall them so you can understand what the other person is feeling when your arguments imply that he or she is wrong.
Doing so will slow your reaction down to a response—one where you can think wisely about how to word your input.
Disagreements are a part of what makes life interesting. Honoring another’s opinion as well as your own opinion, even when you know you are right, is one of the exercises that grow you up in Christ.
Have a great weekend, and let me know if you find this exercise helpful, Susan
“Jesus likes it when we share.” -Adelaide, age 3: Pass this along to everybody and their brother. OK, maybe not everybody’s brother, but you know . . . all of your friends would be nice.