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