I was at the airport this week and overheard two people bickering over Josh Duggar, the Ashley Madison website scandal, and the Duggar family in general. The female was crucifying the Duggar family for its hypocrisy in projecting themselves as Christians in the media, while raising “a pond scum, perverted, cheater.” The male defended the Duggars, arguing that no family is perfect and that one “loser” out of 19 still makes them good parents. The discussion escalated into a yelling match at Gate D7.
There’s been a lot of recent media stories that make for interesting discussions around the dinner table. Caitlyn Jenner. Donald Trump. Sandra Bland. Tim Tebow.
Everybody has an opinion. Some people have strong opinions. Some people are apathetic. Some people won’t have an opinion without first independently researching the issue. Some people adopt a “popular” or “politically correct” opinion without questioning how the media is crafting an issue, or because they are too scared to publicly say their real opinions.
You know what? Absent someone asking you what your opinion is, nobody really cares. And 99.9% of the time, you will not influence anybody by being assertive about yours. So stop it already.
It took me twenty years to realize that in
some most scenarios, it’s best to keep my mouth closed, no matter how difficult. While it’s important for us to speak our truths, some conversations merit zipping it. Most importantly, I’ve learned that just because someone starts a dead-end conversation doesn’t mean I have to participate.
There’s a lot of special people in my life. I have friends who are white, black, asian, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness, agnostic, American, Russian, Cuban, gay, straight, transgender, poor, wealthy, parents, childless, breastfeeder, non-breastfeeder, working moms, stay at home moms, work at home moms, married, divorced, illiterate, educated, depressed, and mentally stable (if there is such a thing).
Having a diverse social circle creates the
potential probability of disagreements regarding religion, politics, and controversial social issues.
Life would be boring if everyone held the same beliefs. Our opinions are shaped by our personal experiences and observations. There’s very few instances where a philosophy is concretely wrong or right.
And let’s be face it, I don’t want all my friends and acquaintances to be exactly like me.
In the past, I’ve foolishly engaged in “dead-end” conversations with friends and colleagues about touchy subjects.
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
As a wise man (Kenny Rogers) once said:
You gotta know when to hold ’em.
Know when to fold ’em.
Know when to walk away.
And know when to run.
When a conversation is going somewhere that could result in hurt feelings, animosity, or resentment, it’s time to fold it. If you can’t fold it, then change the subject and gracefully walk away.
A conversation is usually making a turn for the worst when of the participants becomes visibly angry. People can become so fixated on being “right” that they aren’t considering the importance of being kind. If a person is “right,” but they project themselves in a way that makes them look like a jerk to everyone else, then how is being “right” going for them?
Shut that bad boy down.
The best way to shut it down is with the Seven Magic Words:
You don’t have to agree with me.
The key is that if you use this phrase while projecting sincere kindness, there is no logical way for the other person to respond to keep the conversation moving in a bad direction. How do you argue with someone who acknowledges you don’t need to agree with them?
Cheers to agreeing to disagree, having an opinion, and accepting and loving those who don’t think the same way you do.