Stay Calm. Make No Sudden Movements.

I stand quietly at the kitchen sink with all my vegetables washed and ready for slicing. I’m happy with the little grab-n-go bags of veggies that will stand ready in the fridge for school lunches. In the quiet of the kitchen, I’m listening to the fighting of teenage girls.

This time, I don’t enter in. I stay calm. I make no sudden movements. They want me to pick sides. They want me to show some kind of emotion. I slice a pepper slowly. And then, I talk about my rhetoric classes. I remind them that nobody is going to win this fight. And that’s not the goal, anyway.

It used to be my goal, but I’ve changed. They can change, too.

I’m learning to stay calm when people around me (in particular teenage people) burst into some kind of argument. For most of my life, I’ve relished winning arguments, but this doesn’t ever persuade anyone in a loving way. I’m the type of girl who might jump into a family argument with a list of logical points to prove my point. But lately, I’ve been practicing what I teach in my rhetoric courses.

You listen. You summarize the other person’s point of view. You even find common ground. You concede as many points as you can. You focus on the other person, not your desire to win. And you show them, in the end, why your point of view perhaps benefits them.

But winning isn’t the goal. Love is the goal.

Every one calms down and relates peacefully once again.

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