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I tried this low-conflict way to respond to my critic

Nov. 8, 2017 | by Tom Harper


I was shocked when I found out a colleague had criticized me behind the scenes.

Quelling the desire to defend myself, I decided to try a technique I had just learned from Gideon.

In the book of Judges, Gideon marshals three hundred troops to chase the Midianite army, calling on surrounding tribes to assist. After a small victory of their own, some of the tribal chiefs complain about missing the glory of Gideon’s main battle.

The text says they criticize him “violently.” But rather than respond in kind, he says, “God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?” (Judges 8:3).

These tribal leaders want credit for a victory – any victory. When Gideon lifts up their accomplishments over his own, their jealousy and anger subside. When I tried this with my colleague, we soon reconciled and he agreed to avoid negative comments in the future.

You and I likely won’t ever lead an army into battle, but Gideon’s simple yet effective technique might help you avert conflict with your coworkers.

You may want to write this sentence on a post-it and hide it in your desk – a simple reminder of Gideon’s secret:

When you build up your critics, they tend to put you down less.


Tom Harper

Tom Harper is publisher of and CEO of Networld Media Group, the site's parent company. He has written Leading from the Lions’ Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible and Career Crossover: Leaving the Marketplace for Ministry (both with B&H). Tom serves as a lay leader at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., where he attends with his wife and three children.

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