St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, seemed to be anticipating the climate of America's political and social discourse when he put pen to hand in the 16th century and wrote:

"In your dealings with all, be slow to speak and say little, especially with your equals or subordinates. Be ready to listen for long periods and until each has had his say. Answer the questions put to you, come to an end, and take your leave. If a rejoinder is offered, let your reply be as brief as possible, and take leave promptly and politely."

While he would have starved as a radio or television news commentator today, his advice offers great wisdom to guide us in discussions of all kinds — but especially, as he says, "with your equals or subordinates."

Apparently, he was okay with his charges taking a more aggressive approach with their superiors — or maybe he just realized that we automatically tend to "tone it down" with superiors while, as Jesus criticized, we "lord it over" our subordinates — and sometimes even our peers.

In trying to heed Ignatius' wisdom, you may want to add these to your list of New Year's resolutions:

  • I will strive first to understand, then to be understood.
  • To that end I resolve to listen first — and to let others have their say without cutting them short.
  • If they are angry, I will be patient and try to remember that most people cannot act out anger for more than 20 minutes. I will try to persevere so we can move past anger to resolution.

Adapted and used with permission from Take Five: On-the-Job Meditations with St. Ignatius by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Kris D. Stubna, Copyright © by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc

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