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How To Get Along With Idiots

Ahhhh. Can you feel it? That's the sensation of the American people slowly devolving into maniacs during an election year.


The other week I invited a few friends over to watch the presidential debate. One friend sighed and asked, "Before I say yes, will Alec be there?" My friend didn't see eye to eye with Alec on many things, especially politics. Alec can also be loud, boisterous, and opinionated. I understood his concern and told him I intentionally didn't invite Alec so he would come.


I hung up the phone and started to process the conversation. I understood my friends concern to a certain extent. He just wanted to enjoy his time, watch the debate, and not have to worry about getting into an argument. Then I had a thought, "Is that Alec's responsibility or my friend who was concerned in the first place?"


There's an old adage that reminds us, "There's nothing as stupid as someone else's opinion." It's not a very correct thing to say, but it does demonstrate the struggle we have as human beings with getting along with people who have different points of view.


If someone believes something different than we do, they're an idiot. We ask, "How could they believe that?" without every asking them, "Why do you believe that?"


It's this mindset that has set our country up for a potentially tumultuous and emotionally charged election year. It's this mindset that keeps me from inviting certain friends over when other friends will be in attendance. It's this mindset that has us missing out on one of the best part of being a human being: our differences.


If you're anxious that you'll get offended in future conversation with someone who has a differing opinion than you do, then consider the following advice:


Choose Your Battles

Not every comment or action requires a reaction. Learn to differentiate between situations that warrant a response and those that can be let go. Does this opinion truly infringe on your values or is this just a hot topic to debate right now?


Develop Resilience

Building emotional resilience can empower you to brush off minor offenses and focus on the bigger picture. Consider why you feel offended when you hear an opinion that differs from your own.


Ask Questions

The best way to bridge a gap of understanding is ask questions. When we know people's intentions, we are much less likely to take offense and much more likely to move the relationship forward.


We'll never agree with everyone, but that's not the goal. Getting along is. Avoiding people that we disagree with is an exhausting strategy that will leave us with glaring blind spots in our perspective and opinions.


If we're not careful, our effort to avoid idiots will turn us into one.


Fact

India has more than 1,866 registered political parties.


Action

Have a conversation with someone who will be voting for an opposing candidate this year.


Question

What topic of conversation do you most have to be right about?


Quote

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." - Oscar Wilde


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