Have you noticed a growing hostile divide online? I’ve watched level-headed people yell, ‘If you think __________ is right then unfriend me!’
There’s a lack of thoughtfulness. The key is empathy.
Super-editor Nay noticed a trend in my writing lately. A theme of do not judge. This post was already brewing when she mentioned it. This post is about judging opinions in the right way.
When considering someone’s opinion, consider their perspective. It requires knowing why they think that way. What’s their personal history? Did something in their past influence their line of thinking?
Take a workaholic, for example. Are they following a parent’s example? Maybe they grew up poor and want to escape that life. It could be as simple as a drive to achieve or a desire for nice things.
Consider what someone believes. The things that they hold true. These are our internal assumptions about the world. It’s the unconscious foundation of what we do or say.
What about their values? We see these mostly in people’s actions. What we spend time and money on are excellent indicators of what we value.
What grows out of our beliefs and values is our gut feeling of what is right and wrong. We craft our personal code of ethics from these.
From this, we can see people’s motives.
We can’t learn what this is by yelling at people. It comes from asking questions and being involved in their life.
Opinions are either shallow or extremely nuanced. It depends on how well someone thinks it through. Don’t assume it’s not thought out or that it’s evil. Assume that they’ve thought it through.
Then ask clarifying questions. “What do you mean by that?” “How did you come to that conclusion?”
If I unfriended everyone who disagreed with me, I would have few friends. My editor and friend isn’t a Christian. We’ve had long conversations though, so we know where each other’s coming from.
My best friend wears the hammer of Thor, Mjolnir, around his neck. He’s a self-described heathen. Often he compares us to Ragnar and Athelstan–a Viking and a priest from the TV show Vikings.
We’ve watched tremendous growth in each other’s lives. How?
We didn’t sever the relationship due to a difference of opinion.
The key is empathy, thoughtfulness, and connection. Because if you’re in a relationship, then your opinions matter more to people.
If you want your thoughts to matter, then think them through. Think the other side’s opinions through, and speak about them through the framework of a relationship.
Seriously, when’s the last time someone you didn’t know or trust got you to change your mind, or you change theirs?