I’ve been asked to give my opinion on various topics this week and I have loved the chance to speak my mind. Afterwards though, I have grappled with the notion that my opinions have come at the expense of others simply because they present opposing views.Crazy huh? A hang over from my last post, I am still overthinking this week. However, my dilemma raises a great question. When I express an opposing view, does that mean my unconditional love for the other person must wain? Does merely the expression of an alternate view somehow infer that my opinion is better than the other? Is it a more loving act for me to simply keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself? I used to think that was the case. Now, I think the answer is…..it depends.
Carl Rogers argued that to truly connect with another human being we must first come from a place of unconditional positive regard. How do you do that when you vehemently disagee with them and are unable to empathise with their position on any level? In other words how is it possible to have a high regard for someone when you might secretly think they’re foolish?
For me, there are three ways I reconcile this;
1. I remember that providing an opposing view is not about denegrating someone else’s opinion but rather adding to it. For a long time if I disagreed with someone I would keep my mouth shut because I didn’t want to “rock the boat”. Nowadays (perhaps in my older age?) I’ve come to recognise that there’s value to some of my words and sharing them might in fact add value to someone else. Now, that’s not all the time (some of the words I speak are pure rubbish!) but I do have moments of brilliance and sharing simply adds another layer of ideas in the conversation, rather like adding a blanket in the cold…the person can choose the one that warms them the most.
2. The person with the view that’s polar opposite to mine is simply making the best choice they know of at this point in time. Therefore, even if I disagree that doesn’t detract from my opinion of them as a human being. It doesn’t mean I don’t love them. I hope that core value is reflected in the way I continue my conversation with them. The key to this is tone of voice. It doesn’t matter really what I say, but how I say it. I can say the sweetest thing, but if my tone is sarcastic or incredulous the words risk being lost in my attack. Yes, responses with such tones are very likely to be remembered as a challenge/attack and risk placing the other person on the defensive. That’s not unconditional positive regard. Tone is a much stronger trigger than words (think about how you might talk to a baby, or speak to your dog). I don’t want to hide behind “well I’m just stating my opinion” as an excuse for speaking with a judgemental tone.
3. I much prefer being kind over being right. This is my biggie. Sometimes it is kinder to keep my mouth shut. My opinion pales in comparison to the love and compassion I am feeling for the other person at that moment. There are times when I will happily choose to be a newt, and that’s ok. Sometimes I’d rather feel connected and part of something than disconnected and right.
Have you had experience with these three different approaches? What works for you?
Have a fabulous week everyohe xx