A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger Proverbs 15:1 (KJV)
A gentle response defuses anger,
but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. Proverbs 15:1 (The Message)
I had opportunity the other day to cite this verse to clients in a marriage counseling setting. The truth of this passage from the book of Proverbs has been proven time and again in so many human encounters over the ages. A soft answer defuses anger.
I remember the nuns in grade school who lowered their voice when the class got a little loud. I was amazed that this technique actually was quite effective back then. Kids settled down to hear the teacher. Schools being vastly different these days, I’m not sure that the technique would work quite as well today. Maybe it would in some cases, but I digress. Soft answers can defuse volatile situations.
When tensions rise in a situation, the question becomes, who are the adults in the room? Who will be the responsible leader who first lowers the temperature in a pressure packed room by lowering his/her voice in that tense time? In times of high tension, people may naturally have their voices raised. But is that helpful? I suggest that it generally is not. Raised volume does not make an argument more cogent or persuasive. It has the effect of bringing, as Shakespeare said in Hamlet “more heat to the situation than light”.
In these days of political and social dysfunction. Soft answers may just be the thing that brings clarity and peace to discussions.
Prayer: Lord, give us the patience and insight to be light bearers in discussions, not heat bearers, Amen