by Rick Warren — May 5, 2023
From The Keys to a Blessed Life
“Gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses.”
Proverbs 25:15 (MSG)
If you have a successful career in sales, you may know that truth already! There was a time when the hard sell—the loudest advertisement or the strongest sales pitch—might have closed a deal. But today, gentleness works. Most people today buy something because someone they trust recommended it. A trusted friend or salesperson’s gentle recommendation is far more persuasive than a loud sales pitch.
And that’s not just true in sales; it’s true in just about every area of life.
The Bible says this over and over again. Proverbs 25:15 says, “Gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses” (MSG). Are you trying to convince a family member or coworker to do something that they’re feeling defensive about? Gentle words, not pushy tactics, will get through their defenses.
In my own ministry, I want to persuade everyone who hears me to live for Jesus, but I have to do that in a gentle way. If I stood in front of people yelling at them, they’d eventually stop listening. But gentleness is persuasive.
A different translation of Proverbs 25:15 says it this way: “A gentle word can get through to the hard-headed” (NCV). What does this mean for you? If you’re a parent or teacher, screaming at a child never works. Anger and frustration only create fear, resentment, and defensiveness. What does work? Gently disciplining in love.
Here’s yet another translation of the same verse: “Patience and gentle talk can convince a ruler and overcome any problem” (Proverbs 25:15 CEV). Many of us don’t live in cultures with a “ruler,” but we all have some kind of boss, supervisor, or authority in our lives. This translation reminds us that, with gentleness, we can persuade even those in authority over us.
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” (GNT).
In that verse, there’s a connection between the words “pleasant” and “persuasive.” If you want to be persuasive, you must first be pleasant.
Being pleasant is a mark of maturity. Fools are rude and unpleasant. The wiser and more mature you are, the more pleasant and positive your speech becomes.
Remember this: You’re never persuasive when you’re abrasive. Gentleness is persuasive.