I belong to a private social group for dog owners. Recently there was a video posted about the cutest pooch you’ve ever seen. Members became agitated and replies became heated. There were those who felt that the methods employed to help settle the dog was not one that vets and other experts would endorse. The replies became more personal. The post’s author clearly felt she was being ‘told off’. One member said there should be room for different perspectives and approaches. He then wrote that it was a shame that the usual ‘dog nazi’s’ were around to spoil things.
Now hold on…before we react, let’s look at this scenario. I feel it’s typical of the UK I experience all the time on social and business platforms. That said, I am aware this is only my anecdotal experience; it is not hard solid fact.
When two or more people enter into a conversation there is an opportunity for each to be enriched by the other. But that can and only will happen when time is taken to be neither reactive or proactive bit rather just to be.
Here’s something to try when you are in conversation with someone. Feel free to join me if it lands with you. Note, this is an invitation not an instruction.
- Listen deeply to the other and suspend judgment whilst you are in a conversation.
- If there is a strong reaction to what they say, take the time to get beyond that knee jerk.
- Reflect on what morally could address the situation. If you want to act, ask yourself what might create the best possibilities for change.
- Ask if you see yourself as better than the other person. Why ask this? No moral action ever arose from a feeling that we are better than someone else…
My personal belief…well…I believe no change comes from finger pointing and ‘othering’. When I recognise something in someone else, then and only then can I reflect on what the right action may be.
I am at pains to make it clear that-
- I don’t think I’m better than those who disagree with this statement
- I’m not looking to create division with those who disagree with this statement
- I want to find a way to join with others and chat- not be separated- especially with those who disagree with this statement.
I have had a number of interactions this year where assumptions were made about my outlook on life. These assumptions came from my ‘labels’… (Jew, White, Middle Aged, Male, Gay, Fibromyalgia, PTSD survivor…) One such assumption has been that if I don’t speak up when faced with severe injustice, I must be colluding with that prejudice . Another has been that by wanting to lessen division between people, I am ‘weak.’
I do not think I collude with prejudice, nor do I think I am weak.
I am currently trying out an experiment – I’m trying to notice how many times I ‘other’ people when I chat with them – how often do I think in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ rather than ‘we’.
When I am feeling particularly brave, there is a more intense experiment – I notice how many times I’m thinking only about myself and my outcomes when chatting with another, and how often I hold my interests at bay in the service of others.
If you are attracted to the idea of entering into a different mode of communication, please feel free to join me. Again, this is an invitation not an order. I’d love to experiment with considered, gentle, and inclusive feedback…
#ethicalcommunication #moralchoices #community #inclusion #purposefultalk