Dignified Debate
 
Assumptions become assurances become affirmations without attention, and the cycle continues. Just when I thought I had overcome my tendency to assert my position on the world as a divine edict, I trip and find myself holding a placard of truth above my head and waggling my finger at any and all opponents. Just when I feel I can embrace some additional ambiguity, I dig in my heels and hold fast to an imagined reality that I constructed from my education, experiences, culture and biases. While my lapse is disappointing, I am grateful that I heard my voice; cocky and confident, insist that it was 'my way or the highway'. Well not exactly that severe, I am sure that the others involved in the discussion felt that my bullying tactics were surprising and unnecessary.

I have an opinion about almost everything and usually, it arises from some research and reflection but I can still jump to a conclusion based on very little information. This isn't, in itself, good or bad but how I choose to share my opinion can be either respectful and strong or contemptuous and rude. Choosing to engage rather than exclude people and information from a debate is easier mentally but far less effective and enriching. 

Are there times, situations or issues that you react to rather than reflect on? Have you attempted to bully your position to the front of the line by citing 'elusive experts', claiming special knowledge, or raising or voice and/or body and claiming status? Would the relationship be better if you still stated your position with conviction but didn't resort to posturing? Are you ready to join me in making a commitment and a change? Can we work together, holding each other accountable to being generously spacious in sharing our values, our ideas, and our interests?

The next time I feel my hackles rising or my ego bursting while engaged in a civil discussion, I am taking a pause to ponder. I will consider what I am so certain about, why I have this assurance, can I express it with dignity, and how would my words impact anyone who hears them. I still get to have convictions, I still get to express them and now I get to be considerate rather than rude. 

Are you up for a challenge?

Share your stories, successes, and missteps.


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