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LEADERS BEWARE: The Implications Of Using The Hammer Principle

“The Hammer Principle”, also known as “The Pain Principle”, is a practice that seeks to address the reactionary component, usually with ha...

“The Hammer Principle”, also known as “The Pain Principle”, is a practice that seeks to address the reactionary component, usually with harsh methods, before clearly understanding what is happening. 

It has been explained and polularised by a number of people, including Dr. John C. Maxwell. The hammer principle's underlying statement says: never use a hammer to swat a fly off someone’s head. You may end up causing more harm to the person's life even if your intentions were for the good. Remember, death is death even if the death is accidental. It is still classified as death.
LEADERS BEWARE: The Implications Of Using The Hammer Principle

In John 9, Jesus Christ heals a blind man. But the Pharisees, in their narrow-thinking mentality, pesters the man who had been healed. They summoned the man a record four times (verses 13, 24, 27 and 34) until the man lost his temper and began to answer them with fury. Their minds were only focusing on trying to discredit Jesus Christ no matter what the cost was to them and the community. 

How To Avoid Using The Hammer:

(1) Understand the total picture: Many leaders in church and society have injured their followers and fellow brethren because they are very quick to comment and draw conclusions without understanding the total picture. For example, a teacher may hit a child who is not responding to his comments quickly without knowing that the child has got a hiccup problem which does not allow him to speak with fluency. Understand the total picture before making a decision.

(2) Be sensitive to timing: While it is important to always tell the truth, sometimes learn to hold your breathe before speaking. Truth told explicitly may sometimes injure the person beyond recovery. For example, as a pastor you cannot explain about death in literal and funny terms while talking to a church member who recently lost a spouse and children in a car accident. You cannot boast of your educational accolades to a child who has been failing to go to school for the past three years because she is an orphan. You have to be sensed to the emotions at stake, otherwise you may end up causing much more damage even though your intentions were clean.

(3) Be sensitive to the tone: It is not always what we say, but how we say it. As a leader, sometimes you just need to address your subordinates with a cool and soft tone. Just make them understand your points, that's all. But in some instances, you will find a leader shouting on top of his voice standing on the pulpit only to address the issue of a young child who has broken a chair. You need to be sensitive to the tone of your subordinates. In most cases they cannot tell you directly to stop certain causes of action because of your rank and seniority, but if you listen carefully to their tone they might actually be telling you to stop your intentions. 

(4) Be sensitive to temperature: Sometimes it is better to walk away and address issues tomorrow when temperatures have cooled down. Avoid a confrontational approach because chances are very high that tempers will continue soar higher without solving the problem at hand. Tomorrow will always come and you will still get the opportunity to resolve the issues at hand.
LEADERS BEWARE: The Implications Of Using The Hammer Principle

Questions to ask (statements to note):
  1. Is my reaction part of the problem?
  2. Actions are remembered long after words are forgotten.
  3. Never let the situation mean more than the relationship.
  4. Admit wrongs and ask for forgiveness.
Examples of people needing extra care:
  1. Orphans 
  2. Widowers and widows
  3. Unemployed people
  4. Abused child
  5. Impregnated schoolgirl
  6. Terminally ill person
  7. Childless couple
  8. School drop-outs
  9. Former prostitute who is now a new convert 
  10. A child who was disowned by his father 
In conclusion, let us learn to live in harmony with others and avoid using the pain principle to address life shortcomings.