29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.
(3 Nephi 11:29-30)
We do not have to agree with others all the time. There are times when we need to deliver a message which others do not want to hear, including saying “no.” But we must not become contentious. What is that boundary?
1. Deliver the message clearly and concisely, and then move on. Don’t assume that a person who disagrees with you has not understood. That results in unnecessary repetition of an unpleasant exchange, which can amount to bullying.
2. Do not lose your temper and become angry. When your words become dramatic or emotionally charged, you may begin, even subtly, flinging darts at the other person.
3. Watch your thoughts. When you begin to think ill of another, you are already starting down the path of contention.
4. Follow the example of the Father in this chapter, and speak with a calm and quiet tone. A harsh tone may distract from the message and will certainly make it harder for our listener to accept the message.