I’m not exactly the outdoors type. I love sitting by a pool. I love the sound of water. But I’m not up for bug bites and camping excursions. My nature-loving daughter has had to make up for the fact that her parents deprived her of many of these experiences growing up. What can I say? 🤷🏼♀️
While canoeing and building campfires were definitely not among our family’s skills, we did all manage to become quite good at one thing: taking the bait.
How about you?
Earlier this summer, our family had the opportunity to be together for five days. During dinner one night, we reminisced about the skill Annika had to bait Mark when they were kids. Usually, it went something like this:
We’d all be calmly eating a meal and a very non-controversial topic would come up. It could be as innocent as, “How was your day?”… and somehow, in a matter of seconds, there would be tension. Annika might not have agreed with how Mark handled a situation in his day and, before you know it, a comment would slide from her mouth. It would linger in the air, almost moving in slow motion toward her target. That’s when it would happen.
Mark would grab the criticism or snarky comment and spike it back over the net with force – bait taken. Tensions flared and the spike back left two wrongs and not much right.
It can happen in every marriage. It can happen in every work relationship. Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes not. But often, each individual is subconsciously defending their territory, reverting to an unhealthy way to navigate an insecurity, or just plainly being triggered.
If you consistently find yourself in conflict with a particular person – or with people in general – I challenge you to decide not to be pulled into that conflict. We can’t predetermine what’s said to us, but we can predetermine our responses.
Do you have a co-worker who always drops a political statement that gets under your skin? Or worse… a relative? Does your parent continue to treat you like you’re 12 years old despite the fact that you’ve crossed into your fourth decade?
There is incredible power in deciding we’ll no longer waste the energy that’s expended when we take the bait.
The next time someone puts some bait out there, be ready. More often than not, the one who takes the bait is the one who accidentally becomes the problem. Choose your words carefully. Or better yet, choose to follow Proverbs 17:28…
“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”