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  • Dr. Stieglitz

Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 27:15

"A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike"

Solomon is in the midst of linking a series of different ineffective verbal strategies in this section. He lands in this proverb upon the constant repeating of a complaint strategy that has been often tried by wives. It is an ineffective strategy because like a dripping faucet, it can be filtered out and ignored.

The problem idea in this proverb is the constantness. It is so constant that the person just begins to treat it like background noise to their life. It is not how often you say something; it is the way you say it and its relative importance that gets action.

Solomon is trying to suggest that this ineffective strategy be replaced by a more effective strategy. There are many other wise strategies to gain action from another person. There is the thoughtful request strategy. There is the more love and leverage strategy. There is I will act to handle this problem strategy. There is the reframing of the problem strategy. There is the wait until it is a bigger problem strategy. You have to choose which strategy to employ when you try and get another person to act – especially a superior. But the constant nagging strategy is ineffective and not worth trying.

We are all tempted to employ this strategy, but it can be tuned out. Solomon is really telling a woman, who is highly critical, to change her orientation. Your constant griping about something or other will cause you to be ignored. If every day you bring up something that is wrong, bad, defective, needs to be fixed, etc., you will be tuned out until you can be diminished or discarded.

It is up to you whether you allow yourself to become contentious. It is all in your view of the things and people around you. If you dig for the positive, the strengths, the good things, and focus on those trying to fix problems and difficulties but not focusing on them, then you will not become a contentious person. If, however, you allow yourself to notice and focus on what is wrong, what is broken, what is a weakness, etc., then you will become a critical person, noticing more and more defective things. These kinds of people often pride themselves on how observant of problems and mistakes they are, but no one wants to be around a person like that when they turn their guns on you.

This is the kind of person – whether male or female – that you tune out, get away from, ignore, dismiss, etc. There are not any of us who would say that we are perfect or that our plans do not have problems or potential glitches. But we want to be with people who will focus on our strengths, the good things about the plan, and what we have done right. We want to be believed in. When a person has consistently done this and they reluctantly bring up a potential serious problem, we will listen to what they have to say.

Become the champion of your spouse's strengths and good points, become a relentless observer of your family and friends’ good deeds and noble intentions, and you will win a hearing for your change suggestions. But if you too often point out their weakness, their mistakes, their problems, they will tune you out.

Until tomorrow,

Gil Stieglitz

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