Hey, if your mind is really always closed, why is your mouth open? Not seeing eye to eye with too many people nowadays? Isn’t it just so much easier to agree than disagree anyway? If you feel like you’re about to lose it with nearly everyone around you, please remind yourself of this: You may be stark raving mad about the opinion or idea your friend is stating, but you’re not angry at her. Please depersonalize and, above all, resist the temptation to be sarcastic, scolding, or cutting. Not always a good idea to stir the pot. Know what you’re cooking before you get burned.
Are there any topics that are not divisive right about now? I know, today’s biggest accomplishment was not saying what you are thinking out loud. So what’s your choice? Flat-out confrontation or awkward silence? Hmmm. At times, we do gain by sharing opinions, believe it or not. Listen to opposing views with an open mind, and if you hear a poorly conceived argument, keep your cool. Don’t let your feelings get in the way of your own logic. Try to get along, please. You can’t build a bridge if there’s no river.
“Look, I’m trying to rant here. Stop interrupting me with facts and reason.” Want to get your point across respectfully? Say: “I don’t agree with you and here’s why.” After you have listened – really listened – to their point of view, then calmly present your case. We all feel passionately about many topics, but do not get smart-mouthed or salty no matter how tempting it is. “The Dead Sea is the saltiest place on earth – next to you, that is.” No, no. Heck, if you’re gonna be salty, at least bring the tequila. But seriously, you’re trying to change his mind, and you just got past the point that nothing you say will matter. You may need to accept that, or just move on. Some differences in values may be irreconcilable. If someone has renounced reason, it’s like arguing with the dead.
Tragically, in politics, shared hatreds are almost always the basis of friendships. Do not go there. If you stay close to someone you strongly disagree with, reinforce all the warm, positive feelings you have for each other despite some differences. And as we all know, if you lie to the government, it’s a felony; but if they lie to you…it’s “politics.”
Do not fuel an already tense fire. Yes, we are all going through something painful and perplexing; but are we “growing” through something painful and perplexing? Do you have any idea how your words impact your experiences in life? You know what they say: The ability to speak multiple languages is valuable, but the ability to keep your mouth shut in any language is priceless. And remember, everyone smiles in the same language.
Sometimes, the fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion. Don’t get stuck in a wave of anger, even if her entire worldview is different from yours. Make your loved ones and friends feel psychologically safe. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to understand why he believes as he does. But remember, a lifetime of experiences has shaped the way he thinks and feels. We are all the product of our upbringing. Change the dynamic by asking questions. Above all, refuse to escalate, no matter how emotional he gets. Just listen.
If you believe your views are right and just, by all means defend them; but do not expect others to change, please. Would you rather have a chess game or a boxing match? You decide. Then again, life is like a boxing match. Defeat is declared not when you fall, but when you refuse to stand again.
“They say ignorance is bliss, but I find yours rather disturbing.” Everyone has the right to be wrong, but you’re abusing the privilege. “You just can’t argue with ‘crazy.’” Uh, oh: Do not utter those words even if you are thinking them. A sharp tongue can cut your own throat. Do not use those snarky put-downs or too many adjectives. Stick to the facts, Ma’am. Ever notice how everyone says: “No offense” right before they offend you?
Very often there are fears behind people’s beliefs. What you say is not always what is heard. You may have the right intent, but you do not know the impact your words have on others. Check the trash talk at the door. Soften your language so that your message may ultimately be received. It’s been said: Truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth.
Above all, be humble. No matter how well informed you are, remember: You are sharing your opinions. Try to show curiosity about other people’s views. Don’t let your train of thought leave the station without you.
Some of the same people you are locking horns with now may have bailed you out of a bad situation, been a loyal confidante, or even helped you through a trauma in the past. So you clash about climate change, parenting, masks, lockdowns, and just about everything else under the sun. You lost all your empathy muscles and you truly do not wish to engage with him anymore. That is okay, but please try loving him from a distance.
We can’t walk around all day with our fingers in our ears; and trust me when I say that all this disagreement is taking a huge psychological toll on every one of us. Because the truth is that we all long for connection. Remember, you can validate a person without validating their content. Understanding is not the same as agreeing.
No need to automatically toss them into the “enemy camp.” If you love someone, let them go. If they come back with coffee…it was meant to be. But truly, the fact that we’re all so different is actually the one thing we all have in common. Listen, the last time I was someone’s “type,” I was donating blood. So don’t take your sweet selves so seriously, my friends. Keep your chin up; otherwise, you’ll be looking at your feet all day.