I struggle with crafting a good response when my paradigm of the world is challenged. But, how I respond is an important factor when representing the organizations I help lead. The easiest “out” is to be silent and not engage in the conversation, especially publicly in places like social media.
But staying silent does not help change the world, and it just makes me feel like a coward.
Whenever I am faced with the temptation to respond harshly to an opposing world view, I like to do what I call a “heart check” of myself. These are the thought strategies I’ve found most helpful:
- Play the devil’s advocate and seek to understand the other party. If I were in their shoes (had grown up where or when they did) would I see it differently? I remember often being very critical of my parent’s conservative handling of their possessions. But I did not grow up during one of our nation’s worst economic depressions. They did.
- Consider the end goal. Is my goal to change the other party’s mind or tear them down and make them look like a fool? When I do the latter I most always end up looking and feeling like the fool myself.
- If I am honest, am I able to identify any good motives in the other person’s position? Knowing that there are good intentions does not always bring agreement. However, it sure opens the door to understanding and a civil debate of the issues.
If these measures bring no hope of understanding, or making the other person feel understood, then my wisest choice might be to not engage in the discussion. The engagement will possibly just make me angry and bitter, and I don’t want that spilling over into my other relationships.
“Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”