適時的話語

幾年前一位朋友告訴我,他參加一個會議,在其中他們那城市的官員們討論舉辦一個重要世界性活動的可能性。那討論漸漸轉為否定。官員們擔心可能發生的問題--交通混亂、暴力、示威遊行和其他干擾。這城市舉辦那活動的可能性變得渺茫。

在那會議中,我的朋友一直沒說話,直到一位委員對他說:「泰德,你一直很安靜。你的看法呢?」他的回答很簡單,只有八個字:「沒有牛,牛欄就乾淨。」他沒有再說什麼,就讓這幾個字在大家心中沉澱一段時間。

突然有個人得到啟發,興奮地說:「他說得對。當然會有些問題,但我認為舉辦那活動的利益比可能會有的麻煩多很多。」大家討論的方向幾乎立刻就轉了180度,改變了那會議的氣氛。

我朋友說的話是來自舊約箴言14章4節:「家裡無牛,槽頭乾淨;土產加多乃憑牛力。」幾天後他的一位同事才來問他那句智慧之言的出處,但無論如何,我朋友的話已得到好的結果。

那會議的戲劇性轉折點不需要精巧的言詞或活潑的情緒訴求。簡單的幾句話就能精準地切入問題的核心。適時的話語,即使很少字,也可以有令人難以置信的力量--如同聖經用許多方式提醒我們:

有時不說話是最好的。有些人似乎很喜歡聽自己的聲音,但沉默可能是最好的「言語」。「愚昧人若靜默不言也可算為智慧;閉口不說也可算為聰明」(箴言17章28節)。

說當時最適宜的話。就像泰德的發現,說什麼話加上何時說出來,才有最大的影響力。「口善應對,自覺喜樂;話合其時,何等美好」(箴言15章23節)。

真誠地說。你真的相信你說的話嗎?你把每個人的最大益處放在心上嗎?若是如此,你的話就被接受。「智慧人的心教訓他的口,又使他的嘴增長學問」(箴言16章28節)。

用理性回應,而不是用憤怒。在火爆的時刻,被情緒感染,我們可能說出事後會後悔的話。「寡少言語的,有知識;性情溫良的,有聰明」(箴言17章27節)。

謹慎地表達你的觀點。拜電視和收音機的脫口秀之賜,人們對任何事及每件事的意見四處氾濫。每個人都在說話--但很少人在聽。在你說話前先仔細聽。「愚昧人不喜愛明哲,只喜愛顯露心意」(箴言18章2節)。

作者簡介:勞勃.泰默西是領袖資產協會的交通部副部長,這是一個總部在美國喬治亞州亞特蘭大的非營利組織。他在新聞界工作超過38年。他寫過一本書「最佳狀態的商業:箴言給今日職場的歷久彌新智慧」(Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today”s Workplace)。他也與David A. Stoddard合著一本書「導師之心:啟發人們將其潛能發揮到極至的10個原則」(The Heart of Mentoring: 10 Proven Principles for Developing People to Their Fullest Potential)。要了解更多資訊, 可上網www.leaderslegacy.com 或上他的部落格www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com 。

思想 / 討論題目
你曾否觀察到只因為一個人所說的話,會議方向就改變--不論是轉向正面或負面?那是什麼情況? 你可否想到有一次你想對大家說的事做出回應,但後來選擇保持沉默--而且事後你很高興你那麼做?你是否有一次說出心中想說的話,但當你一說出,馬上就後悔了? 試著回憶有一次你面對一個困難的情況,而某人說出正確的話--有用的建議或有幫助的鼓勵。那讓你有何感覺? 你認為有什麼好方法可以避免在強烈情緒時,說出沒有建設性,或甚至有破壞性的話?
註:若你有聖經且想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看:
箴言10章19-21、32節,11章12節,12章14-15、18節,13章2-3節,15章2、4節;雅各書3章3-12節

THE POWER OF A TIMELY WORD

By: Robert J. Tamasy

Years ago a friend told me about participating in a meeting where his city”s leaders were debating the possibility of hosting an important gathering of people from around the world. Slowly the discussion had taken a decidedly negative turn. Officials fretted over possible problems – traffic snarls, violence, political demonstrations and other disruptions. The likelihood of this event being invited to the city was dimming by the moment.

My friend had refrained from speaking during the discussion until one committee member turned and said, “Ted, you”ve been quiet. What do you think?” His response was simple, consisting of eight words: “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean.” He did not elaborate, choosing to let those words sink in for a few moments.

Suddenly enlightened, someone reacted with excitement: “He”s right. Sure, there may be some problems, but I think the benefits of hosting this event would far outweigh any possible downside.” Almost immediately, discourse took a 180-degree turn, transforming the mood of the meeting.

The words my friend used came directly from an Old Testament passage, Proverbs 14:4, which in its entirety says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger (feeding trough) is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.” It was not until days later that a coworker bothered to ask the source of his pithy wisdom, but my friend”s words had gained the desired result.

The meeting”s dramatic shift had not required an elaborate speech or spirited, emotional appeal. The simple words had cut to the heart of the issue with surgical precision. Timely words, even when used with great economy, can have incredible power – as the Bible reminds us in many ways:

Sometimes, no words at all are best. Some people seem thrilled by the sound of their own voice, but silence can be the best “speech.” “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Proverbs 17:28).

Say what is most appropriate for the moment. Just as Ted discovered, often it is the combination of what you say – and when you say it – that has the greatest impact. “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply – and how good is a timely word” (Proverbs 15:23).

Speak with sincerity. Do you really believe what you are saying – and do you have the best interests of everyone at heart? Then your words will be properly received. “A wise man”s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction” (Proverbs 16:23).

Respond with reason, not anger. In the heat of a moment, fueled by emotion, we may speak words that we later regret. “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered” (Proverbs 17:27).

Express your own views with caution. Thanks to TV and radio talk shows, we are deluged by people with opinions on anything and everything. Everyone is talking – but few people seem to be listening. Listen before you speak. “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions” (Proverbs 18:2).

Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit corporation based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran of more than 38 years in professional journalism, he is the author of Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today”s Workplace (River City Press) and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring: 10 Proven Principles for Developing People to Their Fullest Potential (NavPress). For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or go to his online blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
Have you ever observed the direction of a meeting change – positively or negatively – because of what a single individual had to say? What were the circumstances? Can you think of a time when you intended to make a response to something that was said, but chose instead to remain silent – and were glad that you did? How about a time when you did speak what was on your mind and regretted it almost as soon as the words were out of your mouth? Try to recall a time when you were facing a difficult situation and someone was able to say exactly the right thing – some useful advice, or a helpful word of encouragement. How did that make you feel? What do you think are some good ways to avoid expressing words that could be unproductive, or even destructive, in moments of intense emotion?NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review some other passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses: Proverbs 10:19-21,32, 11:12, 12:14-15,18, 13:2-3, 15L2,4; James 3:3-12

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