Have you ever been around someone who was so touchy that your conversation had to be tempered with words that would not upset him or her, to the degree that it became difficult to communicate? These kinds of people have such deep, embedded anger issues that a normal conversation is impossible. Sometimes you feel like you are walking through an emotional mine field and one wrong step (word) can set off an explosion of anger that requires psychological hospitalization to recover.
When approaching some people, you have to wait for the right timing, the right mood, the right temperature, because they are so temperamental, the slightest word spoken incorrectly can set them off.
Usually these individuals are full of hurts and unfulfilled expectations and rather than correcting their communication skills or resolving the hurts of life, they avoid the truth through an explosion of words.
Once I was in a meeting and I told one of my employees to ask another employee to do a certain project. Their response was, “I will, but I will wait for the right time, because you know how they are.”
What my employee was actually telling me was that the other person was so moody and irritable that you had to monitor their attitude and judge your words before you ever asked a question. The right question spoken the wrong way could create hours of discussion and turmoil. Actually, the right question presented correctly can do the same thing because an offended person will perceive it as incorrect. My employee eventually said to me, “Why don’t you get someone else to talk to them?”
The temptation is to avoid people who are temperamental and to avoid direct confrontation, which further complicates the problem and creates a vicious cycle of continued uneasiness. Offensive people like to talk and rule conversations with their negativity and that causes others to avoid interaction with these people whenever possible.
This is why some people have no friends and when they walk into a room or step into a conversation, everyone finds an excuse to leave. However, when an offensive person finds someone who will listen, they will actually alter their personality and treat that person differently, developing a type of codependency.
Sadly, it is impossible to get away from some of these people without completely breaking a relationship.
A few years ago, a couple asked if I would talk with them. As soon as they sat down, the wife said, “He never quits talking. He constantly talks and will never give me any time of peace and quiet.” I looked at the man and asked him if it was true. For over an hour, he explained how he was not a talker. Neither his wife nor I could get a word in edgewise. Yet, he was convinced that he did not have a talking problem.
So how do you counsel with someone and solve a problem when the person who has the problem feels they have none?
The first thing is you seek God’s Word for comfort and allow His Word and His Holy Spirit to minister to you. Secondly, you must come to the realization that you cannot manipulate and control other people. If they will not listen to reason and are determined to continue being abrasive and explosive, then you must find a way to shield yourself from the piercing arrows (words) of the offending person.
“Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation; preserve my life from fear of the enemy. Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the rebellion of the workers of iniquity, who sharpen their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows—bitter words, that they may shoot in secret at the blameless” (Psalm 64:1-4).
We are living in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-17). Jesus said that in the last days offenses will come (Matthew 18:7). You will never be able to stop offensive people from being offensive unless they align themselves with the Word and repent. That doesn’t mean they just say that they are sorry. Being sorry is an emotion. Repentance is a change. Without repentance, being sorry means nothing.
If an offensive person does not repent, then you must position yourself so that your shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16) is placed between you and them.
Of course, you can separate yourself from offensive people. The Bible says that it is perfectly okay to separate yourself from ungodly people who are abusive (Romans 16:17). However, if they are a spouse or other family member, this may not be completely possible and your shield of faith, personal strength in the Word, and prayer become your protection.
So the next time someone blows up unexpectedly and pounds you relentlessly with their words, remember this: God’s plan for your life is peace and contentment. He wants you to walk in faith and let everything you do be tempered with love. He did not create man to live with abuse and stress, but to walk in the freedom of the Word and the joy of the Spirit, and to enjoy the fullness of life in peace.
Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! (Matthew 18:7)
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. (Romans 16:17)