Getting Along with Others
ARE there people with whom you have difficulty in getting along? What can be done about it? For instance, do you find that quite a number of persons irritate you? If you have trouble along these lines, you might ask yourself: ‘With whom does the trouble lie? With the other person or with me?’ If it seems that everybody else is wrong, then the chances are that you may need to make some adjustments.
One adjustment many can make to get along better with others is to overlook their errors or faults, charging it up to imperfection. Why make an issue if the matter is inconsequential? Thus the inspired counsel in God’s Word advises: “The one covering over transgression is seeking love, and he that keeps talking about a matter is separating those familiar with one another.”—Prov. 17:9.
So by overlooking a fault, putting up with another despite faults, one retains a friend. It is easier to do this when we consider that the other person is imperfect, that he will make mistakes. So do not expect too much of others, but make allowances for their inability to measure up to what is perfect. By not requiring the full measure of what is due us, we make allowance for the other’s lack. This kindness helps us to get along with others.
A wise person makes allowance, too, for the fact that he cannot act the same way or deal in the same manner with all persons. People are different; they have different personalities, different habits, different traits. What we might think is in good taste, another may consider objectionable. Often it is over very small matters that two persons do not get along. Therefore, to avoid a clash in personalities, be willing to make concessions. Be flexible.
For example, there was the Christian apostle Paul. In his preaching activity he was tactful; he tried to understand the mind of those to whom he was talking; he appealed to their reason. (1 Cor. 9:20-22) When he talked to the men of Athens, he referred to their own religious altar and their inscription “To an Unknown God” and also quoted from their own poets to get his points across. (Acts 17:22-28) The apostle Paul adjusted himself to their viewpoints. Can we not apply the same principle in dealing with others? To get along better with others, would it not be wise to adjust ourselves to their personalities? Not that we would compromise righteous principles, but endeavor to understand the other person’s viewpoint.
One’s natural disposition may cause him to be interested in others so much that he desires to know many details about them and what they have done. Friction may result due to this trait; it may make it difficult for one to get along with others, for some may consider certain matters their personal business. In the interest of pleasant relations, how much better to be friendly and yet, at the same time, not too personal. Your friend may feel that he has good reason for not divulging to you knowledge regarding certain affairs. So before asking questions, consider whether they might only be a source of friction.
Another’s habits or manners may be a source of irritation that makes it difficult for you to get along with him. He may be untidy. If that is his weakness, continually needling him about it is not the way to preserve peaceful relations. Of course, this does not mean that you should pick up his poor habits. But before criticizing, it is good to count ten—ten of your own faults. After this you will be in a better frame of mind to give tactful suggestions, if any are in order.
Often two persons with strong personalities do not get along well. Each may not hesitate to insist that his views on matters are correct. When such persons are in close contact, it is not unusual for them ‘to get under each other’s skin.’ If a quarrel ensues, it is well to remember that neither can blame the other for the clash, for it takes two persons to make a quarrel.
The Holy Bible recognizes that fact, so that the inspired counsel given at Proverbs 17:14 says: “The beginning of contention is as one letting out waters; so before the quarrel has burst forth, take your leave.” A tiny leak in a dam holding in a reservoir of water can eventually lead to a terrible flooding. So likewise when anger and irritation are given a small vent, they can burst into a flood of angry words and deeds, resulting in harm and injury. So before any discussion leads to such a result, it is best to leave the subject; or, leave the person “before the quarrel has burst forth,” thereby preventing a damaging clash.
With people of so many personalities on earth, it is certainly a challenge to get along with them all. But Christians are obligated to try, for they are instructed: “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.” (Rom. 12:18) If they are to do this, Christians must “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness.” (Eph. 4:24) The “new personality” is made up of such qualities as long-suffering, self-control and mildness, which enable one to get along even with difficult-to-get-along-with people.
Further, the “new personality” tries to put up with others, in harmony with the Scriptural injunction to be “putting up with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2) Yet the “new personality” does not go along with the worldly crowd in obscene jesting or wrong conduct, nor does it flare up in irritation and anger and screaming. The “new personality” that enables one to get along with others does what is right.
Therefore it might be said that the ability to get along with others is a measure of one’s Christian maturity. The mature person knows it takes two persons to make a quarrel; moreover, he does not expect too much from others and he is willing to overlook immature conduct in others. He well knows that his ability to get along with others reflects an illuminating picture of his Christian maturity.