Despite my people pleasing tendencies, I’ve never been one to shy away from a conflict (except with those I’m very close to, but that’s for another discussion). I respect a good debate. I’m impressed with someone who can articulate their position in a diplomatic, well thought manor – even if I don’t agree with them.
What I don’t like is when conflict and disagreement devolves to personal attacks and needless digs. I also don’t like being in conflict with an opposition that is not willing to listen or have genuine dialogue. I confess that at times I have been guilty of all those things – we all have our moments. But as a whole, I strive for productive encounters when conflict exists.
To that end, I have some suggestions for anyone who might find me offensive. I realize of course that if you would find me offensive, you are highly unlikely to be reading this blog, but translate this to apply to any moment where you may feel offended by something or someone.
1) Recognize that you are actually on the defense Be honest with yourself about what you are defending.
2) Set a goal for your defense. Do you need to make a point to me? Do you need to make a point to people around us or society in general? Do you simply need closure personally? All of these are valid, but will change the way you approach the subject.
3) Organize your thoughts. Be ready to explain your thoughts and feelings on the subject – keeping a clear distinction between what you believe are facts and what are clearly your opinions. Again, both have a place in the conversation, but keeping them separate will go a long way toward building and maintaining your credibility.
4) Be as ready to listen as you are to speak. Much of the offense we feel in life may be easily reframed when we allow for a correction of our perception by understanding the intention of the other party.
5) If all above fails and you still need to talk – just ask me questions. I’m such a sucker for a good conversation I will very likely hand you all the information you need to make a case against me. And, if I’m taking my own advice, I’ll probably ask you questions that will clarify why you were offended in the first place!
I once heard it said that diplomacy was simply the art of “telling someone to go to hell and still getting them excited about the trip”! A little thought, intentionality and diplomacy goes a long way in managing your feeling of being offended.
If you found any of this offensive, please feel free to practice in the comments below!
Next: Offense and Boundaries