Friend A makes a comment.
Friend B disagrees with the comment.
Should Friend B tell A why they disagree?
Or should B just remain quiet and not rock the boat?
There was a time when I wouldn’t hesitate voicing my opinion if it didn’t align with something that was said. Now, with my friends, I often wonder when and if I should speak up.
People have become, let’s just say, sensitive about their opinions… People have stopped being friends because of opinions. People have said harsh words to others because of opinions.
Has the age of polite discourse ended? Does everyone see their opinion as fact, and therefore unmovable? Do we regard those who think differently than ourselves as stupid?
Let’s take a step back:
Perhaps we need to reevaluate…
How do we relearn how to have a discussion with someone who has a different viewpoint than our own?
- When someone makes a statement that you don’t agree with, take a breath. Do not react or say something right away. A discussion is not a contest to see who responds the quickest.
- Ask why the person thinks that way. Sometimes you have to walk in someone’s shoes in order to understand why they made the statement. Do not assume the backstory. Find out your facts first. You may have heard a conclusion that took the person a long time to come to.
- Don’t assume the person is stupid, non educated, or anything else. Assumptions, stereotypes and judging all hide under the same banner.
- Listening means listening. It means taking in the words that the other is saying. It does not mean holding your breath and thinking about your possible responses. Try to understand what the person means.
- If you choose to state your differing thoughts, do so in as calm a manner as possible. Remember, this is someone you presumably have some sort of relationship with, or know someone who does. Treat them with the respect with which you wish to be treated.
- Remember, you do not have to air your opposing opinion. There are no points for arguing with someone. You make the decision whether or not you wish to engage or continue with the discussion.
- If you choose to say your opposing viewpoint, keep in mind as to your goal. Do you just want to show them a different opinion to give them food for thought? Or are you trying to change their mind?
- Ask yourself if your mind would be changed if you made the statement first and the other chose to argue the point with you. If nothing would change your thoughts, why do you think the other person will change theirs?
- Do you want to discuss something? Or do you just want to prove that you are right and they are wrong?
- Are you trying to take the moral high ground? And if your goal is to take the moral highroad, are you really accomplishing this by arguing a point?
I know that I do not always follow my own rules. Ok- I almost never follow my own rules. However, when I am in what is supposed to be polite conversation, I am going to try to think before I speak.
Most of the time anyway…