Empathy is defined as:
“The intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.”
I have friends who refer to their ‘right answer’ as a ‘no-brainer.’ It isn’t that simple.
I suggest that having a strong (sometimes inflexible) opinion is often jeopardized by an absence of empathy for other people’s points of view. And that contradistinction can cause a deep divide between people.
As the internet-driven world has amplified communication through message boards, reply all emails, eNewsletters, and a wide assortment of social media options, our good judgment has not kept up at a comparable pace.
Please understand, I’m not preaching my opinion, here, so much as I’m speaking from my own experience of ‘being out-of-bounds’. And, in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict, the colossal number of cringe-worthy Facebook posts is particularly disturbing.
Freedom of Speech is not the issue. That is a matter of government censorship. We have the freedom to say whatever we choose (in the United States); however, there may be ramifications… from the push-back of our employer, friends, family, or the organizations and institutions that surround us.
And so it has been on Facebook… a textbook demonstration on how NOT to have a discussion.
Please note: I haven’t lost my lust for the occasional provocative opinion; however, of late, I have become more thoughtful about how quickly OR IF I choose to let-it-fly.
You Can’t Un-ring the Bell!
In the last few months, I have become more sensitive (sometimes annoyed) about the level of unnecessary noise on social media platforms. Extreme opinions, dominating the post-verdict Facebook activity, were often thoughtless.
Certainly, people have a right to express their opinion. However, it’s not particularly reasonable to expect that people will ALL quietly read and listen. Many will fire back.
Some people were calm in their demeanor, though they were the smallest group, from what I observed.
Crushing a Relationship in One Stroke
The sad part of this episode has been observing otherwise friendly peers, alienate each other, in a moment. People who get along, and agree on a plethora of business matters, suddenly felt compelled to un-friend one or more peers, in response to ultra-strong points-of-view.
Respecting the Medium
As a blogger and social media user, I have taken adopted a more patient and thoughtful approach. Sadly, these last couple of days, I have been disappointed by so many wedding professionals, letting their politics and related opinions bleed into their business space.
Wedding professionals complain, incessantly, about how “Brides think emails and the like are a discussion. Why don’t they just pick up the phone?”
I would suggest, in the same vein, that Facebook is a questionable forum to have a political discussion with business peers, relatively few of whom we truly know, well.
Winning an argument can certainly a reasonable goal. But remember, you can permanently trash a relationship without winning anything. Being outspoken is a choice. Sometimes it’s necessary, even a worthy action. All too often, it’s not just a waste of time, energy, and thought, it’s unnecessary, repulsive and hurtful.
You are entitled to your opinion. On any given issue, there are rarely two sides to the story, there are often many points of view. You are entitled to VOICE your opinion. Please voice it with empathy and care.