In the heat of the political season, I’m finding it difficult to talk with people who don’t share my views.
Even as I try to frame a comment or question in a non-judgmental way, my brain quietly inserts “You idiot” at the end of each sentence.
For example, I found myself sitting across the table from a woman who supported Trump. We were both staying at the same Inn in Denver and six or seven of the guests were having breakfast around a big communal table.
The subject of politics came up and one woman said hesitantly, “I’m a Trump supporter.”
I replied, “You are?”
On the surface, there’s nothing offensive about that except for the silent “you idiot” we could both hear at the end of my question. I might as well have rolled my eyes in disgust.
Soon thereafter, she got up and left.
Being Made to Feel Like an Idiot
Now, I don’t know about you, but I really, really, really don’t enjoy being made to feel like an idiot. I don’t mind being a beginner and learning new things. I don’t mind being wrong about things. Though, of course, I’d rather be right. But I can’t stand feeling like a fool!
I suspect that you don’t like it either. Embedded in being an idiot is the sense of not being respected. And that feels lousy.
So here’s the question…
How can we disagree with people but not disrespect them? How can we strip the unspoken “you idiot” out of our undertones?
Constructive Conversation without Judgment
What might I have said to the hapless woman who sat across from me that would have opened up constructive conversation rather then shutting it down?
While the current political season has made this topic hot for me, it’s just an extreme version of what happens with many conversations in which people don’t agree respectfully.
What would have happened if, instead of implying that she was an idiot, I had simply said, “I’m curious about that. Tell me more.”
I might have learned something interesting about her. I might have learned why, despite the obvious problems I see in Trump as a candidate, she’s pledged her support to him. I might have learned what drives someone to take a position that seems so foreign to me.
At the very least, I wouldn’t have driven her from the table. I am sorry I did that.
Omit the Silent “You Idiot” When You Disagree with Others
When talking with someone with whom you don’t agree, find language of curiosity rather than judgment. It’s far more interesting to learn why someone holds a different opinion than it is to castigate them for doing so. You’ll learn something and have a chance to connect with someone else. Plus, you won’t be left with that nagging feeling that you were unkind.
Share your constructive comments about my views below,making sure not to end with “you idiot.” 😉 Or, wiggle on over to Facebook and share your ideas there.
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