As I get older, I find that people get heated more often than not when they cannot find the words necessary to present their position effectively, or when they cannot digest or handle the position of another. Then I find myself arguing with someone that doesn’t want to listen to another perspective and I waste an hour of my life attempting to share something. I suppose this is what separates some of us at the core and this is especially true when you consider dissenting ideas.

Of course, this works both ways. I admit that I can get heated and frustrated when I’m trying to convey an idea and the intended recipient either cannot or will not hear it from another perspective because they either believe they have the moral high-ground or simply don’t understand the potentially complex concepts being portrayed. In such cases, I sometimes lose patience and seek to remove myself from the conversation altogether.

Of course, it’s not all so cut and dry and we should remember that. Something I may never truly understand is when someone is clearly wrong, clearly contradicting themselves in debate and being flat out hypocritical in their thought process, but somehow cannot see that they are doing that (or maybe refuse to see) and then they somehow look down upon you for not rolling over and agreeing with them. Granted, this doesn’t even factor in manipulations.  

For reasons such as this, many people flat out avoid conflict. I think avoiding conflict is not a good thing though. In fact, I think it can help you discover MANY things about a situation, the person you are talking with and even yourself.

So what am I talking about? Anything, really. Let’s just take political correctness as an example. It is the good, the bad and the ugly of it all but it is always going to be a double-edged sword. For instance, the idea of children not being able to able to wear a costume on Halloween because it may or may not offend someone is ridiculous. I know some won’t agree but it doesn’t really matter when you consider the topic from a different perspective. Let me tell you why. I read a report a while back suggesting that dressing up as a cowboy should be discouraged because of its “possible offensive nature”. One must consider who it might be offensive towards but more importantly, what the intent (if any) of the costume itself actually is. Then after you’ve done that, you should probably examine what it looks like when the shoe is on the other foot. This is the step that many miss. When you do, you’ll discover the double standard.

When I wear a kilt, many people have called it a dress. Not cool! On Halloween, people will dress up as a Highlander and drink themselves into oblivion because they think it’s funny. Where is all of the cultural sensitivity in any of that? Well, it’s not really needed because most Scots are tough enough to handle it. So, people on the other side of the fence are allowed to trash and make fun of my heritage because I’m tough, but those on this side of the fence are not allowed to even dress like a cowboy because someone may get offended?

See what I mean? This is a frustrating concept and one I simply refuse to buy into. In many ways, I think political correctness is a poison. Not because of whom it protects, but because of who it doesn’t. Few often consider the opposite side of the coin as they begin to toss it.

I want you to know that it is okay to confront conflict, but that if you do, you should do it strategically. Evaluate the process of conflict and try not to fly into it “half-cocked”. Consider both sides and evaluate your part in it.

I think the most important aspect is “The Goal”. When you enter a conflict, it is good to know and recognize (and remember) your desired goal or outcome and plan accordingly. This is going to require practice for many.  

Remember that you are all special – just like everyone else! It’s okay to stand your ground if you feel it necessary. Don’t be a stubborn mule though. Know the facts, examine the opposition’s position and be willing to be wrong. If you’ve done all that and you’re solid in your conclusion, stick up for yourself. Sure, there are differences from person to person. However, that does NOT give anyone a free pass to say what they want if they are merely expecting someone else to hold their tongue. Equality is equality. They should be careful what they ask for. We all should be.

Of course, the other side of this is that perhaps we shouldn’t waste our time arguing with babies and morons in the first place. Sometimes we should pay particular attention to clues that tell us to walk away. It reminds me of something Mark Twain said: “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference”. I think it’s a VERY thin line sometimes.