How would you like to go through each day with the knowledge to adeptly deal with the conflicts you are bound to come across? What if you had the tools to not only diffuse any situation but to turn it into a teachable moment and make an authentic friend out of a potential enemy? Wouldn't you like to yell "Serenity Now!" and have it happen?
There are proven ways we can deal with the untremendous amount of vitriol in our lives. Much of the trash we freely allow is through social media, news, and television. I'm not saying it's all bad; I'm just telling you to be acutely aware of the content pumped inside your brain. If you haven’t dialed any of these sources of garbage way back, might I suggest that be your first step.
Every week I meet with an increasing number of hurting people who are angry because something was said or done (or wasn’t said or done) and it throws the individual into a state of angst and confusion. They are ready to fight or flight, but there is a much better alternative: adapt.
Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said, “I believe that one of the most important habits for us to cultivate is to find something positive in everything that happens.” This adaptive capacity is the key not only to a tremendous life but one filled with peace and stability. Here are three surefire ways to deliver soft answers in a hard world so we can encourage contact and eradicate conflict.
Get over yourself: We all have this terrible habit of jumping to conclusions. We think we are God and know everyone's motives and why they did or didn't do what we thought they should or shouldn't do. This is rubbish. We have no idea what is going on inside some else's head or heart yet we claim the right to be outraged as if we do. I recently had dinner with a friend and fellow author and speaker. He said he brought a box of Q-Tips to all meetings. When someone's feelings got hurt, he'd throw a Q-Tip at them and remind them to Quit Taking It Personally (QTIP). Olin Miller has one of my favorite quotes, “You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do.”
Go to the source: If the person did not say it directly to you, it's hearsay. We get so worked up and ruin families and companies because we refuse to go directly to the source where it all started. Shame on us. If it's not admissible in a court of law, why do we allow it to wreak disorder in our lives? We make mountains out of molehills when we refuse to go directly to the person we have the “potential” conflict with and don’t give them a chance to explain themselves and clarify. We say we're concerned with man-made Climate Change, yet we do nothing to clear the proverbial air in our personal spaces. Step One: Find the person with whom you have the beef. Step Two: Ask them what did they say and what did they mean. Step Three: Agree to Disagree or Kiss and Make Up. If we followed these three simple steps the vast majority of our problems would get solved right then and there, and we'd save ourselves the drain of negative energy in our spirit and ruminating thoughts occupying our heads.
Stop virtue signaling: Virtue signaling refers to the public expression of an opinion on a given topic primarily to display one’s moral superiority before a large audience to solicit their approval. Technology encourages such ridiculous behavior, and we're too pious to resist taking the bait. We always think we're entirely right and the other person is entirely wrong. The truth is there's still enough room for improvement all around. In the immortal words of Davy Jones of The Monkees, “It’s a little bit me, And it’s a little bit you, too.” Whenever I’m tempted to raise my righteous hackles at the verbal vomit hurled my way, I stop for a minute to think about all the times I've done the same, a thousand times over. We are so quick to judge others when the first person we should judge is ourselves. I am not morally superior to anyone else. When I take offense at the slightest pretense, I reveal just how shallow I am.
My recommended read to conquer this thumb-sucking demon for once and for all: Unoffendable by Brant Hansen. Read this life-changer, and your feathers will be sleek and smooth, not raggedy and ruffled.
Go in Peace my tremendous tribe! And remember, a soft answer turns away hard anger.