Many years ago I was part of a sales team. Management wanted us to approach our customers with a lighter method than our competitors. What was being used more commonly at the time was a very aggressive, “in-your-face” technique that amounted to bullying customers into buying. Our company came up with a conversational technique called “gentle persuasion.”
It has been a long time since I worked for that company. Perhaps the reason I remembered it was because I was thinking about how political candidates and special interest groups attempt to influence us. Advertising becomes more aggressive as we near the election. Thinking about these two approaches gave me cause for pause in how I approach people with whom I differ.
When we disagree on topics some of us feel compelled to defend our position aggressively. Some people might justify their approach on the admonition of the apostle Peter (1 Peter 3:15). Unfortunately, the intent of that counsel has been bent over the years. Peter said to be “ready to make a defense” for the “reason for the hope (or faith) in you”. That passage has been used as a basis for justifying hard line proselytizing many times.
But there’s more to the scripture and it includes how to make that defense. The rest of the scripture says to do so “with a mild temper (or gently) and deep respect.” We often miss that subtle nuance when defending our position. If we must live our lives on the defense it requires us to fight for what we want. Being on the offense can be just as damaging to our spirit. With that ideology we can end up spending our time scheming to take what we want.
There is another way to live life and state our position to others. It requires a decision on our part and it is not one that is easy for some people. Like all the principles of the Science of Mind, this principle is a simple one, yet simple is not synonymous with easy. The decision we must make is to acknowledge that as convincing as our arguments might be it is entirely possible we will be unsuccessful in convincing others to take up our position.
That’s hard for many. It requires us to believe that regardless of what we see before us or no matter how much potential we recognize in the life of our friend or partner, we must allow others to believe and live their lives as they see fit. It is easier to do this when we come to the table with a sincere desire to understand, instead of gearing up for a fight or a conquest.