Remember the TV series Columbo (with Peter Falk as the detective)? Yeah? Well, so do a lot of other people. And back in the day, the word was that even Emperor Hirohito of Japan was a big fan.
Years ago after I’d led some classes on the topic of false teaching, my son (who had been present) sent this:
Mom, I like that you are a whistleblower and a rebel under the guise of a nice lady. You kind of remind me of Columbo, but without the cigar or the lazy eye. What I mean is, Columbo was so smart and experienced that he didn’t have to be intimidating or aggressive to expose the truth. He could manipulate the circumstances to trap the guilty in a lie. Patiently, thoughtfully, and calculated … and always respectfully so. Love ya. And for the record, I also don’t think of you as a frumpy old man in a trench coat who always appears hopelessly lost. And that you are not a detective or in law enforcement in any way. But other than that, you are just like Columbo.
I’ve continued to discover that asking questions, like Lt. Columbo did, can be useful. And I’ve written a few posts about asking questions.
How fun it was to discover that Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason suggests using what he calls “the Columbo method” to ask questions when talking with people on touchy subjects. Here’s his 4-minute video that gives you the idea.
It might sound a bit off-putting to call this a “tactic,” but we don’t mean manipulation. The idea is for us not to feel intimidated that we don’t instantly have all the answers. Questions are a tool to keep the conversation going in a non-arrogant, non-aggressive way. We want to help the other person think—with the goal of moving that person toward the Lord’s truth.
Under the “Topics” tab on that site is an option called “Tactics and Tools,” which might have specifics for difficult situations you’re dealing with.