Proven Ways to Get Along Better With Anyone

This advice originally appeared in the 1993 Fall Lutheran Digest. It’s worth repeating.

  1. Before you say anything about anyone, ask yourself these things: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
  2. Make promises sparingly and keep them faithfully.
  3. Never miss the opportunity to compliment or to say something encouraging to someone.
  4. Refuse to talk negatively about others; don’t gossip and don’t listen to gossip.
  5. Have a forgiving view of people. Believe that most people are doing the best that they can.
  6. Keep an open mind; discuss, but don’t argue. (It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable)
  7. Forget about counting to ten. Count to 1,000 before doing or saying anything that could make matters worse.
  8. Let your virtues speak for themselves.
  9. If someone criticizes you, see if there is any truth in what they are saying; if so, make changes. If there is no truth to the criticism, ignore it and live so that no one will believe the negative remark.
  10. Cultivate your sense of humor; laughter is the shortest distance between two people.
  11. Do not seek so much to be consoled as to console; do not seek to be understood, as to understand; do not seek so much to be loved, as to love

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 (my addition!)

For more about conflict resolution see:

Christ-Centered Conflict Resolution by Tony Merida–Book Review

If God is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk by John Pavlovitz–Book Review

Who Made me a Judge or Arbitrator Over You?

Christ-Centered Conflict Resolution by Tony Merida–Book Review

Disagreements are a part of life, and as Christians, we all want to resolve conflict in a Christlike manner. This short book by Pastor Tony Merida is chock full of good advice for doing that. In fact, conflict can actually be seen as an opportunity to show God’s grace and grow personally.

Christ-Centered Conflict Resolution: A Guide For Turbulent Times

First of all, the greatest problem in every conflict is: YOU! Conflict with God and others came into the world with sin, and it’s still going on. The book of James tells us:

“What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from you passions that wage war within you? You desire and you do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war.” James 41-2

The internal war with sin within us eventually leads us into conflict with others as we seek to satisfy our own desires.

The author walks us through these steps to peacemaking.

*Me-First–is there a log in my own eye?

*Minor–Is the offense a minor one that I could and should overlook?

*Major–Does this offense require the purpose of restoration (as outlined in the Bible)?

*Material–Does this offense require restitution related to property, money or other rights?

*Mediation–Does this offense call for the help of another party to assist in peacemaking?

Above all, love should prevail. Pastor Merida states that we should take the commandment to love expressed by Jesus in John 15, as seriously as we take the commandments to refrain from murder or adultery. Christian love is a sign of maturity, and most conflicts are easier to resolve when we’ve already demonstrated love over time to that person.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. The advice given is clear, concise and Biblical. The author takes pains to say that he is a pastor, not a counselor or therapist, and he does not address the problem of abuse. I would recommend it.

The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255.

For more book reviews see these posts:

The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork by John C. Maxwell–Book Review

Spiritual Formation by Henri Nouwen–Book Review

Discernment by Henri Nouwen with Michael J. Christensen and Rebecca J. Laird–Book Review

Brave Talk by Melody Stanford Martin — Book Review

This book, although not written by a Christian, will be of interest to Christians as a useful guide in building relationships in the face of conflict.  Ms. Martin’s father was a Pentecostal minister, but she describes herself as a “rainbow liberal” so she has learned to work hard at creating community despite seemingly insurmountable differences of belief and opinion.

When we don’t deal with conflict, it doesn’t disappear.  It can affect our ability to sleep, learn, make decisions, and cope with daily life.  It can cause us to develop unhealthy habits and self-destructive behavior.  On the other hand, dealing with disagreements well (i.e. brave talk) will make our relationships less fragile and our communities healthier.  Disagreement helps us to hone and better present our own beliefs to one another.

Topics discussed include power, domination, the different types of disagreements, fear, anomie, feelings, assumptions, core values, rhetoric and more.  There is plenty of great advice about how to communicate clearly and be more persuasive. You will find out what type of communicator you are, and get tips for improving and expanding your communication style. Throughout the author emphasized that the relationship is more important than the impasse.  Even when we disagree strongly, we can choose to understand one another, give each other the benefit of the doubt, and offer respect.  These ideas are clearly need to be cultivated in our society today, and we Christians are the ones who should be doing it!

The epilogue makes the following points about difficult conversations:

  • It’s not all about you
  • It’s hard work
  • You should advocate for the things you believe in with all the articulate, passionate energy you can muster
  • Things will sometimes by awkward or uncomfortable
  • Things may even be painful
  • Humor helps
  • Courage means sharing your heart and understanding the risks of opening up

There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter, so the book would make a great read for a book club or discussion group.  There are also a number of helpful appendices containing some helpful tools.

VERDICT:  4 Stars.  There were a few things I didn’t agree with (lol) but overall, it was an informative and eye-opening read.  I recommend it.

For more on conflict and communication see:

Who Made me a Judge or Arbitrator Over You?

Selma — Movie Review

Peacemaker or Peacekeeper?



Brave Enough by Nicole Unice–Book Review

Are you brave enough to extend and receive grace?  True grace, not fake grace?

Are you brave enough to commit to practicing the spiritual disciplines of worship, study, prayer and fellowship?

Are you brave enough to resolve conflicts and offer forgiveness, even to yourself?

Are you brave enough to discover and use your own spiritual gifts?

Are you brave enough to accept your personal situation and limits?

Are you brave enough to rely on God daily, whatever your circumstances?

Author Nicole Unice leads her readers through these challenges of everyday life as a called woman of God.  Each section ends with a “brave enough pause” with ideas for reflection, prayer or journaling.  There is an appendix listing many Bible verses that will encourage each of us to be “brave enough.”.  The themes include:

  • God’s passion for us
  • God’s power and protection
  • God’s priorities
  • God’s promises
  • God’s provision

VERDICT:  5 Stars.  I enjoyed this book and would love to read it with a group of Christian friends.  The author really challenges women to understand and analyze themselves in the light of the Gospel message.  It was more than informative — it motivates and reminds us that everyone is “brave enough” to do what God asks.

For more on courage see these posts:

Women of Courage: a Forty-Day Devotional — Book Review

Afraid of all the Things by Scarlet Hiltibidal–Book Review

Here on Earth.


Who Made me a Judge or Arbitrator Over You?

“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’  But he (Jesus) said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?’  And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'”  Luke 12:13-21

The person in the crowd wanted Jesus to take his side in a disagreement.  We do this all the time, don’t we?  We tell our side of the story to a friend, or authority figure, in the hopes that they will agree with us, and be our ally.  With two against one, the other party will be bound to back down and do what we want.  It’s a way to justify ourselves and intimidate the other party.  There’s a fancy name for this behavior–it’s called triangulation.  Here’s an explanation of this process:

Triangulation can happen in nearly any type of relationship. For example, a relationship between two siblings can be triangulated by a parent when the siblings disagree, and a relationship between a couple can be triangulated when one partner relies on a child or parent for support and communication with the other partner. Two friends might also draw another friend into a conflict in an attempt to resolve it.

Jesus is tell us here, that it’s not acceptable behavior.  Instead, he directs the complaining person to examine his own motives.  Why does he want Jesus to side with him against his brother — could it be that he is being greedy?

The Bible actually lays out a healthier process for resolving conflict.  It’s laid out in Matthew, Chapter 18:

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.  If they listen to you, you have won them over.”

It does go on to say, if this doesn’t work, we may need to take witnesses, and possibly involve the church.  However, the first line of conflict resolution is talk it out with the other person.  No doubt, they have a different perspective than your own, and as Christians we should be willing to admit:  I COULD BE WRONG!

Next time you have the urge to triangulate (and you probably will, because it’s human nature) — stop and think, what would Jesus have me do?  Don’t try to turn someone else into the judge or arbitrator of your disagreement.  Even Jesus wouldn’t do this.  Go to your brother.  Be willing to listen to the other side.  Work it out in Christian love.