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Negative patterns of communication are a ready retreat for some people. These people are more interested in getting their way or winning an argument than they are in clear and authentic communication. Their negative patterns of attack, defense and manipulation do not leave room for open communication.

Sometimes in a relationship upheaval or during an attempt to communicate, all three of these negative patterns of communication are present and working together.

Attacking behavior is really a response to several things. Let's examine what is really happening behind the behavior by using some examples.

The attacker is doing one of two things.

First, he is feeling some degree of frustration over his present circumstance, and he perceives the source of his discontent within another person. In his attack, he is attempting to communicate-albeit not well-his desire for change to that other person.

Second, an attack will occur because the attacker perceives he is being attacked. His best method of defense is to launch a counterattack. He figures his best defense is a strong offense.

Bill and Laura
Here's an example of how this works. Let's say Bill was supposed to fix a dripping faucet for the last several weeks and has not gotten around to it. His wife Laura is totally fed up with the delay, and she lets him know as much one evening.

She says, "I can't stand it anymore! This dripping faucet is driving me right up a wall. When are you going to fix it?"

Bill perceives he is being attacked and immediately counterattacks, saying, "Well, how am I going to have time to fix the faucet when I'm busy doing all your other errands? I just got through taking your mama home down in Redwood Falls. It took me half the day to get her down there!"

Laura says, "So now you're harping about my mama. I asked you to take my mom to Redwood Falls, and you said you would. Now you are using that against me. You are just trying to pick a fight!"

Bill says, "I'm not trying to pick a fight-I'm just trying to tell you why I didn't have time to fix the faucet. You expect too much out of me."

Laura says, "Expect too much out of you! What do you expect out of me? Look at all the things I do, and you never even say thank you."

I could go on, but you get the idea. They have totally forgotten what even started the discussion. After the first comment it became a case of attack and counterattack.

Communicating the Truth in Love
The whole incident would never have gone that way had Laura done what the Bible says to do, which is to communicate the truth in love.

If she had said, "Bill, I know you have been really busy, and I realize there have been a lot of demands on your time. I know that is why the faucet has not been fixed yet, but it really is bothering me. I'm wondering if there's something I could do to relieve the pressure on you so you could work on the faucet."

Laura was uptight about the faucet not being fixed, but she can communicate that in a way that does not get Bill "fired up."

Now, on the other hand, if Bill had known how to react, he would have said something like this when Laura attacked: "Honey, I realize the faucet is a point of frustration for you, and I apologize for not having fixed it. I'll do my best to make time to fix it tomorrow." And the whole fight would have been defused.

On the Receiving End
Now, when you are on the other end of an attack, how do you respond? How do you reply so you can get communication back on a plane where it can be productive?

The Bible says a soft answer turns away wrath. So if you are attacked and someone lets you have both barrels, what do you do? Say, "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to do that, and I apologize. Please forgive me. I'll really work on that problem."

What do you want? Do you want the plan of God in that relationship, or do you want to win the argument? That is really the bottom line. Your flesh wants to win the argument.

But if you want what God wants, if you want a solid relationship He can use to bring ministry to you and through you, then you cannot allow the flesh to decide the issue for you. You will have to forego winning the argument in favor of allowing the Spirit of God to cause you to give a soft answer.

Source: Positioned For Promotion by Mac Hammond
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.

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