Speak the truth in love, not in a harsh tone. There is a time to show anger at some infraction worthy of being upset about. But be sure the anger is used constructively, not destructively. God gets angry at the wicked every day—but the difference between his anger and ours is that we lack all the facts and risk over-reacting through harshness. If you’re on the receiving end of a leader’s anger or frustration, then respond gently and present your case. Speaking the truth in love needs to go both ways (“a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.) “Harsh” is defined as unpleasantly rough or jarring to the senses. It means discordant, inharmonious—like strings on a guitar out of tune. The whole purpose behind effective communication is to re-tune what has become out of tune. We are to strive for unity to protect the relationship and, no matter how right you might be in your frustration. When you’re strong you’re wrong—not about your offense or the need to confront a particular issue, but by the harshness in the tone of your voice. It only adds fuel to the fire, instead of water, and distracts from the real problem. It puts the other on defense and may provoke them to anger. Nothing then is resolved, only exasperated, adding to a greater potential breakdown in effective communication. Leaders who control their emotions when correcting a course of action, a wrong behavior, or a misunderstanding, will find more respect for your position of responsibility and oversight when they don’t fear a “tongue-lashing” coming. You gain a reputation then of being a reasonable and approachable leader. A gentle confrontation—with the goal to accomplish clarification, reset, and resolution—will go much further than blowing off steam. Stop to think, too, if the harshness and anger in you is due to your failure to address something that should have been dealt with long ago. But you let it build into a bigger problem to the boiling point of taking it out on others. Don’t put off confrontation when needed. You’ll have more peace through the process. Remember—you can’t take a 40-ton truck of confrontation over a plywood bridge of love.
Don’t repeat to others what was shared with you in confidence. Two scriptures come to mind on this. The first, “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” The other, “…do not betray another man’s confidence, or he who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation.” There isn’t a quicker way to lose the respect of those you lead than to have them find out that you talk too much. What they had shared with you in confidence was to trust in your ability to conceal what is no one else’s business to know. When they find it gets out, that’ll be the end of your influence in their life. They’ll avoid a leader who talks too much, because such a leader is a gossip.
Avoid engaging in gossip. This is an extension of the previous point. Gossip about an employee, a fellow-worker, whoever it is about is unproductive and unhealthy because it reflects back on your character. One must ask themselves the question, “What do I gain from talking about someone else’s failing or faults?” Does it make you feel better about yourself? Does it help the person you’re talking about? How would you feel if you knew someone was gossiping about you in the same way, maybe to the person you’re talking to about the other and it gets back to them? No one gains, everyone loses, and you might have started a fire you can’t put out (James 3:5-6).