Do you feel bruised and battered with the daily news?  How are we going to get through this monumental year with clenched fists, tight jaws, and squinty eyes as we face off on a regular basis with those on the other side of the ideological fence?

I read and watch the news daily because I want to understand what other folks are going through but I’m finding that I take a deep breath before I take in the day’s “Breaking News.”

It’s not “Breaking News” it’s Broken News.  Our world is broken and wounded. We’re retreating to corners and the gloves seem to stay on.  We think it’s threatening if we disagree and events quickly escalate to personal insults, name calling and perhaps even physical harm.

Here’s a true news flash… we don’t have to agree. The emotional potholes are trapping us that we need to defend our position and prove who’s right. Attacking each other like playground bullies only escalates potential conflict.

Let me say it again, we don’t have to agree.  What we do need to do is to listen, and give a moment before responding.  Ask questions.  Ask for them to help you understand why they feel the way they do.  Active listening and mirroring back what someone just said before putting your two cents in breaks the pattern of tit for tat and often softens raw nerves.

You do not need to agree to feel heard or to listen. It is sound strategy if you want to be heard to first listen and ask questions.  Even if you’re being baited with name calling and insults, recognize that the power position is actually the one who keeps their cool.  Resist the momentary gratification of verbal one-upsmanship.  Shaming, public embarrassment, belittling, and name calling are not only disrespectful but the precursor to a violent response.

On occasion, it may be best to walk away until tempers cool or to avoid retaliation.

So can we speak truth to power and still respond with dignity and respect?  Yes.  Try to observe within yourself if you need to be right or self-righteous. I have my good days with this and my not-so-good days depending on my stress level.  You might also be more informed than your sparing partner but they’re not going to hear you anyway if you need to shower them with facts.  What if you set the stage by asking questions instead?

We do not need to agree but there is an imperative that we treat each other with respect and value.  No problem was ever solved by power games.  Try the strategy of asking questions before things get too heated and see what happens.  And, you might need to remove yourself to “fight” fair another day.  You get to choose.