Regardless of the industry you are in, operating in the marketplace can be intense and ruthless. When high functioning professionals are competing, or even just working together, feelings get hurt easily.
On the surface it makes sense to take the easiest path like–“time heals all wounds” or “it’s water under the bridge”–and ignore the problem. My reasoning often goes like this:
* If I confront the person it will only make things worse.
* Right now I have too many things on my plate to deal with this.
* If I just put my head down and work harder this will go away.
* I don’t know what to say or how to say it.
* What goes around comes around. That jerk will eventually get his/hers!
The path of least resistance may appear preferable but the Bible presents a totally different approach: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26) That’s pretty straightforward. The more time that elapses between the infraction and any attempt for resolution, the greater the likelihood that the rift will grow even bigger.
For a native Texan, beef brisket is barbeque at it’s finest. I enjoy smoking a brisket all day long, but if you leave the brisket on the grill, too hot for too long, the meat gets dry, then black. An unaddressed offense or simmering resentment can permanently fracture a relationship if it is allowed to sit and smoke for too long.
I have yet to come across anyone who has been in business for very long that hasn’t felt wronged or insulted in some way. This happens even in healthy companies and organizations. The solution isn’t to stuff down angry feelings, but rather to name what you’re feeling and act directly—speaking kindly but honestly–“be angry but do not sin”.
I call this “keeping short accounts,” and it’s easier said than done for pleasers like me. Some people believe that the Bible says to be peace-keepers. Actually it says to be peace-makers, which means facing conflict in constructive ways. ”If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18). “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 14:19)
Keeping short accounts is a much better way than leaving a trail of unforgiveness and broken relationships. Sometimes you have to find the words and the courage to say, “I know our discussion got heated today, but I want you to know that even though we don’t agree on this issue, I respect you and want to understand where you are coming from.”
What if it has already been a long time? Once I spoke at a prayer breakfast for business professionals. Afterward, a friend told me he had run into a former colleague who had cheated him out of a commission. They hadn’t spoken in two years until that morning. A few weeks later, my friend reported that the colleague had reached out to him and sought forgiveness. Better late, than never!
Anyone competing in the workplace knows that misunderstandings are bound to happen. Sometimes you will be the one who oversteps verbal boundaries. Pick up the phone or better yet, go to the person directly (do not email or text). Admit “I’m not feeling good about that comment I made or the message I left. I didn’t mean for it to land in such a personal way. Are we okay?” Regardless of their response, you can be assured that “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9, NLT)
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Lord, You know this is a hard area for me. I don’t like to confront. I just want everyone to get along. I also know that without meaning to, I offend people when I’m too busy to consider the feelings of others. I need courage to pursue resolution or reconciliation when a relationship becomes strained or distant. I need Your forgiving spirit toward those who frustrate my purposes or lash out at me. Give me the power to work at making peace before the end of every day.
“Forgiveness is the economy of the heart… forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.”