Our theme for this month: “Changing the tone of the conversation”
Our Bible verse for today: “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but one slow to anger calms strife.” Proverbs 15:18 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Be the adult.”
I remember back in the mid-1970s when I was a young sailor serving in the U.S. Navy the Navy was experimenting with a psychoanalytic therapy called “Transactional Analysis”. “TA” as it was called for short, was a theory that maintained that most social transactions fit into one of three categories, parent-child, child-child, or adult-adult, and that those social transactions could be managed from that perspective.
So, if the person you are interacting with is acting like a child, you can assume the attitude of a mature adult, and your good example will help to inspire them to act like an adult too. If both of you are acting like children then either you’re just playing around and having fun, or one of you needs to knock it off and start acting like an adult so you can then inspire the other one to act like an adult too. And of course, the optimal situation for any social transaction would be for both parties to be conducting themselves as mature adults.
For a while the Navy actually held mandatory workshops that everyone had to attend so we could learn the TA strategies. It was kind of funny because in the days following a TA workshop you could walk around the ship, find two sailors in an argument, and inevitably others in the area would start shouting “TA!” “TA!” encouraging one or both of them to use a transactional analysis strategy to gain the upper hand in the argument.
In Proverbs 15:18 Solomon introduced us to what was perhaps the original TA strategy. There he reminds us that a hot-tempered person stirs up a conflict but one who is slow to anger calms things down. As a disagreement gets tense and emotions start to get in the way, a hot-tempered person will inevitably throw fuel on the fire by getting angry and saying things that make matters worse instead of better. But a person who is slow to anger, the one who can maintain control over his or her emotions and deal with the situation in a calm, reasoned manner, he or she is the one who can help to calm things down, or at least prevent them from escalating.
Transactional analysis turned out to be a passing fad, but the Proverbs of Solomon have endured for 3000 years. As Proverbs 15:18 teaches, I encourage you to be the reasonable adult who calms things down instead of stirring them up.