How to Get People to Pay Attention to What You Have to Say.

Hello, kids, that’s right, you guessed it 🙂 lecture time!

So, one of your friends or family members has done it again. They have gone and had an opinion. The problem is, you don’t agree with them, and you are just about to tell them how you really feel about it.

Wait! Hold that thought!

The typical response (according to what I have experienced) is to get angry. Especially if it is something that is very important to you. As an example, I will use something I care deeply about.

Random person: “Ugh. Why did they let the gays marry? It’s ‘Adam and Eve”, not ‘Adam and Steve’. This country is out of control”

Now, I could get feisty and start yelling at them about how they are wrong and I am right. I could even insult them or their mother, because, well, that is obviously how it works, right?

Nah. I’m not even going to bother with all of that. Want to know why? Think about how you react when someone is yelling at you. Generally, people do one of two things; either they yell back, or they block it out. I tend to block it out. I learned this growing up. When my parents would get mad and start yelling, I would just tune out and let my mind wander because I was annoyed at them for yelling at me. Sometimes, I would yell back, but over time, I realized that if I block it out, they probably do too.

So, I started being calm. I have found that, if you reply to someone calmly and respectfully, they are more likely to approach your opinion with an open mind. They are also less likely to feel as though hey are being attacked. That’s right…

People react better to differing opinions when said opinions are delivered respectfully.

I also realized that, when you are polite and respectful, it opens the door to debate. Not an argument, but real conversation that, in turn can open the door to learning something new.

I was at the laundromat recently, (never share a bed with a 3 year old who wets) and I saw a book lying on the seat next to mine. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. This is one of my favorite Narnia books, so when the owner of the book came back, I started up a conversation with him. I explained how I got my religious views from the final book in the series (read that here ) which led to a conversation about the LGBTQIA community. He is a Christian who, while he does not agree with homosexuality, sees no reason to hate people for who they love. We spoke at length about our differing opinions, and we did so quite amicably. I believe he left with a lot to think about.

Today, someone I care very much about questioned why everyone is still posting about the decision made by the SCOTUS. This person is tired of seeing the rainbow posts and believes there are more important things to think about.

I could have jumped all over him and said hurtful things, and gone overboard. However, I do care about this person, and I wanted them to know that, and I wanted to be respectful as I do respect the opinions they have. Therefore, my response was “I think the reason so many people are posting rainbow pictures is because, in this world of so many terrible things happening, they saw a reason to celebrate. When you have a reason to celebrate and be happy about something, you want to hold onto it. Soon enough we will fall back into the state of worry and fear, because, you are right, there are a lot of things to worry about… but I think it is a good break to have something to celebrate for once. Just my POV, take it for what you will. 🙂 

This response has the effect of getting my point of view across while also showing this person that I respect their opinion. Opinions can be a hard pill to swallow; at the first sign that they don’t agree with you, it is easy to get your hackles up and be on your guard. It is very easy to give or take offence unintentionally when opinions are being discussed. When you approach it from a place of rationality and respect, it helps to disarm the person you are talking to as well as helping them to open their mind and heart.

And remember kids, Standing up for what you believe in is a wonderful thing. However, one of the strongest, healthiest things you can do is to admit when you have been wrong.

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3 thoughts on “How to Get People to Pay Attention to What You Have to Say.

  1. Pingback: Index of Posts. | Inside the Mind of a Dramatic Mother

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