善意舉動的安撫力

不久前我與妻子在一家我們喜愛的餐廳慶祝結婚週年紀念。當我們吃完主菜,服務生上了一道非常好的甜點。這是我們在這餐廳碰到的一位舊識莉莉所送的。

因為過去我們與莉莉有一些不愉快,所以我們非常驚訝自己受惠於她這麼意外的慷慨。就在那家餐廳,我們發現了莉莉的和善本性,這是我們以前都不曉得的個性。

在職場中,我們大多數人常面對緊張的關係和因許多事件所累積的憤怒感覺。有時關係緊張是創意衝突的正面結果,但更多時候是來自不同個性、價值觀或目標之人所產生的競爭、羨慕、嫉妒或敵意。雖然這情況在每天的生活中很常見,但我們不應忽略這些狀況。若沒有適當處理,可能造成傷害且降低生產力。若我們想維持有效率且長期的工作關係,必須學習如何面對這樣的情況並解決它。

回想到莉莉的善意舉動,讓我想到聖經舊約中的一節經文。箴言21章14節教導我們:「暗中送的禮物挽回怒氣;懷中搋的賄賂止息暴怒」。

這聽起來好像很簡單,但用禮物的形式來表示善意與慷慨可以平息怒氣。若你與某人的關係需要「安撫」,你可以考慮禮物的力量。

這並不表示我們可以--或應該--總是用「買禮物」去解決人際關係的衝突。通常最好的行動是直接找那與你不和之人,並用客氣的態度及技巧的方式與他討論。如另一處經文告訴我們:「寡少言語的,有知識;性情溫良的,有聰明」(箴言17章27節)。還有一節經文加以說明這觀念:「火缺了柴就必熄滅;無人傳舌,爭競便止息」(箴言26章20節)。若我們可以適當地處理意見不合或衝突,而不火上加油,我們就可能修復被破壞的關係。

然而,有一件大家都明白的事就是,行為勝於言語。除了口頭表示道歉或想要和解,一個善意的舉動可以證實我們的誠意。而那善意的舉動可以像莉莉,送一個令人驚奇的小禮物,或者也可簡單地寫一張卡片或短信給那人,說明你想要解決那紛爭。

沒有這樣的舉動,衝突可能會無限期地持續。如箴言18章19節提醒我們:「弟兄結怨,勸他和好,比取堅固城還難;這樣的爭競如同堅寨的門閂」。若你與某人有任何尚未解決的歧見,現在是開始解決的好時機。

思想 / 討論題目
想想莉莉送作者夫婦甜點的善意舉動,有人曾對你做過類似的事嗎?當時你如何回應?若你沒有碰過,而有人如此做,你會如何回應? 請誠實回答:你是否可想到你與某人,可能是一位家人、朋友或同事,有未解決的惱人衝突?若有,那情況是如何發生的?你可以做什麼事去解決那問題? 你是否接受買一份禮物(不論大小或價值)作為「橄欖樹枝」去平息爭端?為什麼? 你是否認為至少試著去解決每件人際間的衝突是重要的?或者你認為人際間的不愉快是生活中不可避免的事?請解釋。註:若你有聖經,請參考有關此議題的其他經文:
箴言15章17節,16章24節,17章1、14節,18章16節,28章2節;馬太福音5章21-26節,18章15-19節

THE SOOTHING POWER OF A KIND GESTURE
By: Rick Boxx

Some time ago, my wife and I were celebrating our anniversary at a favorite restaurant. As we finished our main course, our server brought us a very nice dessert, compliments of Lily, an acquaintance we had seen at the restaurant earlier in the evening.

Because of some unpleasant experiences we had had with Lily in the past, we were extremely surprised to find ourselves beneficiaries of her unexpected generosity. As we left the restaurant, we took with us a newfound appreciation for her benevolent nature, one of Lily”s characteristics that we had previously not been aware of.

In the workplace, most of us have learned that it is not uncommon to encounter tension in relationships, and even have feelings of anger over any number of issues. Sometimes the tension is a positive outcome of creative conflict, but often it is the result instead from competition, envy, jealousy, or simple animosity between people that are very different in personality, values or objectives. Although such circumstances can be seen as normal in the everyday course of events, they should not be ignored. They can become harmful and counterproductive if not addressed properly. We must learn how to confront these issues and resolve them if we are to maintain effective, long-term working relationships.

Thinking back to the situation involving Lily, I was reminded of a passage in the Bible”s Old Testament. Proverbs 21:14 teaches, "A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath."

It may sound simplistic, but sometimes showing kindness and generosity in the form of a gift can serve to pacify anger. If you find a relationship with someone in need of some "smoothing over," you might want to consider the power of a gift.

This does not mean we can – or should – always seek to “buy” our way out of interpersonal conflicts. Often the best course of action is simply to approach the individual you find yourself at odds with and attempt to discuss the problem in a civil, tactful manner. As another biblical passage tells us, “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered” (Proverbs 17:27). Another verse expands on this idea: “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down” (Proverbs 26:20). If we can appropriately address a cause of disagreement or conflict, without adding fuel to the fire, we may be able to heal a damaged relationship.

There is a truism, however, that actions speak louder than words. Along with verbal expressions of apology or the desire for reconciliation, a kind act can confirm the genuineness of our intent. This could involve, as with Lily, a small surprise gift. Or it could be something as simple as a card or note to the individual, communicating in writing your concern and desire to move past the source of strife.

Without such a gesture, conflict might persist indefinitely. As Proverbs 18:19 reminds us, “An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.” If you have any unresolved differences with someone, now would be a good time to start resolving them.

Copyright 2010, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from "Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx," a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
Thinking about the kindness that Lily did for Rick Boxx and his wife, in buying them a dessert following their dinner, has anyone ever done something like that for you? How did you react, or how would you react if someone were to make such a gesture for you? Be honest: Can you think of any nagging, unresolved conflict that you have with someone right now – a family member, a friend, or someone you work with? If so, how did this situation come about and what, if anything, could you do in seeking to get the problem resolved? Does the idea of buying a gift for someone – regardless of the size or value – as an “olive branch” (to settle a dispute) seem acceptable to you? Why or why not? Do you think it is important to at least try and resolve every interpersonal conflict, or do you view unpleasantness in some relationships as an inevitable reality of life? Explain your answer.NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Proverbs 15:17, 16:24, 17:1,14, 18:16, 28:2; Matthew 5:21-26, 18:15-19

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