Responsible for Your Response
Written by Jim Stovall
We live in a world that is growing more contentious every day. There are huge social and political divides between people, and social media highlights and magnifies these glaring conflicts. I believe that we should all be responsible for our own rhetoric and demeanor. While I understand it is difficult to respond with kindness, logic, or reason when you feel as if you’re being attacked, in the final analysis, we all have to be responsible for our response.
People can make you mad, but they can’t make you respond with anger. When you attack another person—even after they’ve attacked you—you give up the moral, emotional, and social high ground. In many of these heated debates, the demeanor, tone, and anger behind the statements made carry more weight than the issue being discussed.
If we’re going to make any progress in the world today, we’re going to have to have the benefit of everyone’s best ideas and diverse thought process. In order to diffuse heated debates or arguments, it is helpful to take the personalities out of the discussion. It is far more productive to debate an individual’s position and confront the logic of the stance they are taking as opposed to confronting them personally and attacking them as an individual.
One of the most valid concepts I took away from my academic training in psychology is the fact that all feelings are legitimate whether you or I feel they are warranted or not. Everyone deserves to be heard and deserves to be understood even if you may disagree with their position. It is virtually impossible to achieve consensus when both parties are talking, and even more so when both parties are yelling. Behavioral scientists have proved that people will judge your intelligence in inverse proportion to how much you talk. Among the many nuggets of wisdom left to us by President Harry Truman was his admonition, “Never miss a good opportunity to just shut up.”
We must pick our battles and choose our debates. Every differing opinion does not warrant our debate. Some of the greatest statesmen, corporate heads, and religious leaders are known more for bringing people together than anything else they may have done during their lifetime. It’s easier to agree on anything if you don’t feel you have to agree on everything. Some of the greatest breakthroughs in human endeavor have come about when people set aside petty differences and chose to move ahead within areas where they can find common ground.
As you go through your day today, take responsibility for how you respond.
Today’s the day!