How to Voice Your Opinions with Kindness
Posted By Allie Cuno on January 29, 2021
What does the world need right now? How about some kindness.
I’m finding kindness in short supply amidst today’s political climate. What inspired me to write on the topic? I was on my favorite news site reading some of the posted comments. There’s no sugarcoating it ... they were downright nasty! I was hoping my side would take the higher road, but no. It was equal opportunity nastiness.
Feeling the heat in January.
And wouldn’t you know the day I started to write this article the Capitol was in lockdown. My friend, who happens to be on the opposing team, came over later that day. Although both of us tried to remain rational and cordial as we discussed the day’s events, our voices soon turned tense and our discussion more, shall I say, lively. We cut the discussion short as we both agreed one would not convince the other. And thanks to a sliver of rational thought, we also agreed this subject was not worth losing our friendship over.
A dose of my own medicine.
How ironic. I was ready to sit down and write an article about kindness in the face of differing opinions and here I was, with my jugular about to burst, trying to control my hostility! Could it be that I needed a dose of my own medicine? All it takes is talking politics in today’s heated climate to realize that even the best of communicators need to work at keeping their emotions in check.
When we feel strongly about a position, how do we communicate those feelings in a positive way so that a productive conversation ensues? Rather than the proverbial checklist, I’d like to share with you some insightful quotes and words of wisdom that can produce a positive outcome and perhaps even save a friendship!
“There is only one rule for being a good talker––learn to listen.” - Christopher Morley
Have you ever been in a discussion that was so heated, that instead of listening you were focused on what you were going to say next? Most likely the other person was doing the same. What productive exchange of ideas can possibly come from that? Lesson learned: Slow down and really listen. Do this and your “sparring partner” will recognize your show of respect for their thoughts and may even return the favor. You could have a constructive conversation after all and keep your friendship as well!
“Most disagreements are caused by different perceptions that created different realities.” - Unknown
When someone disagrees with us, we may automatically think, “What, are you crazy? How could you believe such a thing?” What we fail to recognize is that the other person’s opinions have formed from news sources, friends, family, and past life experiences that may be radically different from ours. Having understood this, I mentioned to my friend that the reason we so strongly disagree is that we are getting our news from opposite sides of the political aisle. Although the discussion remained lively, we went forward with the understanding that neither of us was “crazy” for feeling the way we did. Lesson learned: Acknowledge that we perceive the world differently according to our life experiences. Your friends’ opinions make perfect sense to them, as does ours.
“Communicate unto the other person that which you would want him to communicate unto you if your positions were reversed.” - Aaron Goldman
Lesson learned: Apply the Golden Rule to your conversations. This is easier said than done when you are 100% positive you are right, and the opposing team is wrong. Remember this: heated arguments rarely get people to change their opinions. Constructive, respectful dialogue keeps the door open so both can calmly consider key points from the other’s point of view.
“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” - Brian Tracy
If you want to be heard, work on the qualities in this article that foster one’s willingness to listen. Work on being calm, rational, respectful, and an active listener in your conversations. Who knows ... you just may be viewed as the voice of reason. You’ll witness, first hand, how far a little kindness can go!
A parting thought ... Learn to be kind to yourself!
As important as it is to be kind to others, it is equally important to be kind to yourself. By being kind to yourself, you demonstrate that you value who you are and the person you can become. A degree can help you reach your true potential. At Independence University (IU), we are committed to both your educational and career success. Our graduates are even welcome to come back for refresher courses at no cost, to keep their skills fresh and their futures bright.
Allie Cuno is a human-interest writer for Center for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE).