We were standing in a room where heated discussions and offensive remarks were swirling. Opinions were loudly voiced from tight-fisted friends. Too many were clinging tightly to what they believed was best and there was no room for compromise on either side. I was preparing to exit the discussion when I said something to a dear friend. I don’t even remember what I said. But I’ll never forget what she asked.
“Kim, are you mad at me?”
She looked straight into my eyes and voiced a sweet, non-confrontational question that dug deep into my soul. Mad at her? No, I wasn’t mad at her, but what statement did I make that would stir her tender heart to ask that question? How had I conducted myself to leave that impression?
That was more than two decades ago and her question is still instructive for me today. I realized that night how important it is for me to be careful in how I voice my opinion, that I choose my words and tone in a way that is cognizant of the potential to cause a tender heart to stumble or be injured.
I learned that night that I need to remind myself: When strong opinions are flying, it may be best to remain silent and pray. It may serve others well to offer a gentle word of encouragement and blessing that can redirect the conversation. I may need to offer an opinion, but I need to be sure it is wisdom that should be shared, and that it is given with graciousness.
Offering opinions in a way that crushes a tender heart, or incites anger in an opponent, does not benefit anyone.
Having differing views isn’t something to run from, in fact, it can promote growth and serve to broaden our understanding, stretch our sometimes too narrow parameters, and challenge what may be ugly prejudices. But how we issue those differing views can determine whether the conversation is helpful or harmful.
Tomorrow, I’ll share some thoughts on how to have a healthy conversation with diverse opinions, but today, I hope you’ll reflect on recent conversations you’ve held, and consider whether you’ve offered your opinion in a way that was helpful or a harmful.
How do you handle opposition?
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