You don’t HAVE to have the last word

Have-the-maturity-to

There are a lot of us nowadays who have a lot of opinions on a lot of things. And many of us like to share our opinions (ahem). This blog post is another example of an opinion, and one that might sound quite judgmental. So be it – it is as much  a judgment and reminder for me as for anyone else.

Opinion sharing – and taking it a step further

Sharing your opinion is one thing. However, many people take it a step further – getting so worked up by so many issues that they spend a lot of their time getting worked up, and arguing, and point-scoring, and, in some cases, being offensive and demeaning to others in the process.

I see it at work, I see it online, I see it on the faces of frustrated drivers in traffic (I might have even experienced it at times myself). I saw it at home this evening between my kids, arguing with each other – and I realised, so many adults are acting like kids. Why?

Yes, there are huge issues and injustices in the world that are important, and worth standing up for. And there are policies, or actions, which impact on us or our loved ones, and we need to stand up for what is right.

But we don’t need to buy into everything. Some things are really pretty trivial.

Trivial issues we don’t need to get involved in

Everyone has to make up their own mind on the matters they will take a stand on. However, in my opinion, I think the examples in this post from Her View from Home, fall into trivial issues – and in fact, by buying into them, they have turned them into issues that become fights. Nothing seems to be spared: ‘our society seems to think everything should be a fight‘. And they can’t subsequently be papered over by half hearted justifications or use of terms such as ‘sorry/not sorry’ (one I’ve not heard often, fortunately – but there are other variations of this) – the damage is already done.

And The Thud’s observations about the uproar last week about the indignity of an advertising company showing a woman running and pushing a stroller (note − she was clearly identified as a model, with a two year old (not a new born), in an ad. Three reasons why she is not intended to be the role model for every woman everywhere). Why, as a result, would people waste their time getting worked up and feel ‘insulted, offended and affronted‘?

Why do we waste our time getting worked up? 
Why is this? Is it:

  • Because we think we are the experts – do we forget there could be another perspective?
  • Because we see our needs / opinions as more important or valid than anyone else’s?
  • Because we are pulling ourselves in too many directions, and don’t have the emotional or mental space to see things in context (we react without thinking?)
  • Because, sometimes, it helps us feel a bit better – a bit more educated, for instance? Do we run the risk of trying to bring ourselves up by pulling other people down?

Pretty sad, don’t you think, to be absorbed in getting worked up over trivial matters, or treating life as a series of insults and fights to make your way through?

Imagine how much fun, productive and connected life would be if more of our focus was on doing right, rather than being right?

Another approach

I loved the thoughts from Annette of I Give You The Verbs today, who asks whether we need develop some etiquette for online conversations (and I think this extends to normal life too) around seemingly simple points like:

  • How to use your words and not get in a virtual punch-up.
  • How to ask a question in a conversation without it being interpreted as defensive.
  • How to count to three before becoming defensive and typing something you’ll regret.
  • Use Your Words! (a refresher course for grown ups).

Have a read of her post, and the comments – there are some good ideas there!

As a starting point, I suggest we start with the premise that I for one so often forget:

YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE THE LAST WORD!

So what if someone still has the wrong idea (in your opinion)?

If you’ve tried and they haven’t listened, would further arguments make any difference? And who is to say you are right, anyway? By listening more, and saying less, sometimes it is possible, sometimes, that you might learn something, and find out that there is more to the picture.

Greater understanding. Greater connection, rather than more conflict. Wouldn’t that be better?

Linking up with the Weekend Rewind list, hosted by Maxabella loves, Life, Love and Hiccups and Kelly Exeter

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13 thoughts on “You don’t HAVE to have the last word

  1. Social media just makes it all too easy to have an opinion on EVERYTHING. I rarely comment on pages – especially controversial ones. Why bother? For others though, I think ranting on Facebook gives them a sense of power they don’t feel in their regular lives. And with very little accountability. Dangerous mix.

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  2. One of my favourite quotes of all times is a Dr Phil truism (I am nothing if not classy): “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?’ I always choose happy. x

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    1. I feel like I’ve trapped myself – do I respond (and therefore am I having the last word?) or do I not (and seem rude?)

      I’ll go with the first – I like the Dr Phil quote (classy or not). Reminds me of someone’s sign off at the end of each show – ‘Remember, it’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice’ (who was that? Some Australian show from the ’80s, so even less classy that Dr Phil (but still, very true!) x

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  3. I think it’s okay to share your thoughts and opinion provided that you deliver it in such a way that nobody gets offended. But there are really times that it’s best to be silent rather than to talk.

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    1. I agree – although it is sometimes hard not to offend some people (sometimes people almost make a point of being offended over certain issues – but in those instances, again, you’re rarely going to change their minds, so it’s worth not getting too involved, I think). Thanks for commenting 🙂

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  4. Great post Helen – Social media too often acts as a means for people to try and have the last word. You dont have to agree with everything and more importantly you dont have to always let people know you dont agree either xx

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  5. Some really good food for thought here Helen.
    I wonder if maybe some people get involved because they’re terribly bored with their own lives. Or maybe they just want to feel important, by having an opinion.
    So many times, online and in real life, people step in when they just don’t have all the facts, and that’s when it can get messy.
    When I was younger, I always had to have the last word, but I think I’ve mellowed a bit over the years.

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    1. I think all of those reasons, Lisa (partly because I see that in myself at times) – so I am really, really trying to pull back to only what is important, and where my words might have an impact. Life is a lot better that way, too, don’t you think?

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