3 genie bottle wishes for curmudgeons

by  Jane Perdue  |  Self Leadership

shake the worldWhat do you do when someone disagrees with your opinion? Do you:

a)  Ignore it

b)  Dig in and aggressively defend your position

c)  Work the difference through to respectful closure

d)  Amicably agree to disagree

e)  Go on the attack

I hope the majority of readers selected (c) or (d). But if you selected (e), this post is for you!

A friend of mine acquiesced to a persistent friend of hers, agreeing to write a blog post about her views of leadership. She’d never written a blog post before, so this was a big deal for her. In her article, she shared several provocative viewpoints—innovative concepts worthy of broader discussion. Eight readers commented and all opted to go on the attack:

“What a stupid piece. I wonder how long it took this idiot to write such pointless stuff?”

“I looked her up and found a picture. She’s fat. Just what the business world needs:  a fatty telling us how to be a better boss.”

“Why was this garbage published?”

My friend was devastated and asked that the post be removed (it was). Her taking-it-personally response is a subject for another day. What repels yet fascinates me is how free some people feel to trash those who think differently than they do, and how, instead of presenting a cogent argument for their opposing position, they resort to undisciplined and cruel personal attacks.

What’s up with that?

Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we all thought and acted alike? How would we ever grow if there weren’t new thoughts to challenge our thinking? How would anything new ever be invented? Would we still laugh? Cry? Reflect?

The beginning of thought is in disagreement—not only with others but also with ourselves. ~Eric Hoffer

While I believe the anonymity of the internet encourages small-minded meanness, others freely bash away face-to-face. So, if I were to find a genie bottle, I would wish these three things for the opening question (e) people:

To develop a profound ability to listen and appreciate with both their head and heart. The world isn’t a zero sum game. There’s plenty of room for differences—look to those differences as a vehicle for exploration and growth.

To replace the excessive hubris with a measure of humility. Someone with a differing opinion isn’t wrong; just different. Respect the value diversity of thought brings in creating better outcomes.

To be less afraid. Mindless stereotypes create separation and isolation. Be open to examining perceptions to understand why you’re shutting doors instead of opening them.

I should say, love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way — and if we are to live together and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet. ~Bertrand Russell

What wishes would you send?

Photo source (before quote):  Free Stock Image

About The Author

Articles By jane-perdue
Jane is a leadership futurist and well-mannered maverick who challenges stereotypes, sacred cows, gender bias & how we think about power. She loves chocolate, TED, writing, kindness, paradox and shoes.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

JoAnne Simson  |  09 May 2014  |  Reply

Jane, it seems to me this dominance-asserting behavior is quite typically male (although I’ll confess to having engaged in it myself, when feeling utterly annoyed by uninformed assertions). But the name-calling is utterly pathological. These are “ad hominem” attacks and reflect the attacker’s insecurity–his inability to say anything rational about the topic at hand. Such verbal attacks are intended to cut to the core and leave the victim bleeding emotionally. These are the vicious, unconscionable weapons of internet trolls.

Jane Perdue  |  12 May 2014  |  Reply

Love your angle on the attacker’s lack of security, JoAnne. Let’s hope that somehow, somewhere, someday, those trolls become enlightened and can appreciate–without attacking–those who view the world differently.

Liz Guthridge  |  09 May 2014  |  Reply

If only curmudgeons realized how they were adversely impacting their own health when they release their venom. They increase their own cortisol levels as well as the levels of their victims, which makes everyone more stressed. Jane, your three tonics for your genie bottle would make a world of difference.

Jane Perdue  |  12 May 2014  |  Reply

Liz…what a fascinating twist on the topic! Hadn’t given the health of the “meanies” a thought…being a naysayer may feel good in the moment but the longer term health impacts may go unnoticed. Thanks for shining the light in a new direction!

Jon Stallings  |  09 May 2014  |  Reply

I would wish for the ability to not be hurt and too learn quicker when I am wrong and someone brings it to my attention.

Jane Perdue  |  10 May 2014  |  Reply

What a lovely wish, Jon…am hoping it comes true for you! It is hard, isn’t it, not to take attacks personally?

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