Persuade with Gentleness
“A wise, mature person is known for his understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is.” (Proverbs 16:21 TEV)
Gentleness is persuasive. This is extremely important if you happen to make a career in sales. Why? Because the hard sell no longer works. We no longer respond to a guy yelling at us that he’s got this amazing deal that we can’t live without.
These days, we don’t buy because somebody’s giving us a sales pitch. We buy because somebody recommended it. Your friends recommend a certain car, movie, or restaurant, and that’s enough to make you want to try it or even buy it. Why? Because their approach was gentle, with no agenda. It’s far more persuasive.
Proverbs 25:15 says, “Gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses” (MSG). Do you want to convince your girlfriend or boyfriend or your spouse to do something? Don’t go with the hard sell. Even when people have their guard up, gentle speech will get their attention, because gentleness breaks down rigid defenses.
So if you’re a parent, screaming never works — even with the most stubborn child. Never discipline in anger or frustration. Always discipline in love and with gentleness. The New Century Version translation of Proverbs 25:15 says, “A gentle word can get through to the hard-headed.”
If I want to persuade people in my church to live more for Jesus Christ, then I must do it in a gentle way. I could stand on stage every weekend and say, “Let me tell you all the things that you’re doing wrong,” but that way of talking just builds emotional barriers. People would probably stop coming to church! It doesn’t work in the pulpit; it doesn’t work in the home, and it doesn’t work with your boss. Nagging never works.
But gentleness is persuasive. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:21, “A wise, mature person is known for his understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is” (TEV).
This is the mark of maturity. Wise, mature people are pleasant. Fools and idiots are rude. You’re never persuasive when you’re abrasive.
Talk It Over
- Why does gentleness stand out so much in our society?
- Think of the way you responded in arguments with siblings or other kids when you were younger. How, if at all, has your response changed as you’ve grown?
- What are some practical things you can do in the moment when you are disciplining your children that will help you respond with gentleness and not anger?
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