I came across a fable recently that seemed to resonate. It goes like this; According…
Are you too scared to open your mouth in public? What about pass an opinion?
For many of us, the world has gone crazy!
General terms and phrases, once commonplace are now considered inappropriate, the expression of opinions are lined with the fear of creating offense, while reference to gender or race seems forbidden, and that’s before we even start on the sexual harassment claims.
We now have a society where your sexual preference is almost worn like a badge of honour while someone’s opinion on Immigration could have them publicly shamed, with their career left in tatters. I am not surprised when I regularly hear cries of frustration (or is that bewilderment) from people of all gender and all places of origin, claiming that they are simply too scared to open their mouths in public. Not only are they concerned about passing an opinion (being the wrong opinion) but in fact, many are struggling with everyday interaction for fear of saying the wrong thing. We are living in a minefield of PC-ness (is that a word??) leaving a cross-section of the population, bewildered, exasperated, and lost.
I don’t have the solution but I do have some tips that might help.
Being aware of your current mood (yes, how you are feeling) and how that may be influencing your behaviour. Consider how your values and beliefs affect your opinions, and how you use all of this to interpret the world and how you view others.
Awareness of Others:
Notice and acknowledge others and their feelings, values, and beliefs. If I have just lost you, bare with me because this stuff is important. I’m simply saying try to see their point of view, not from your viewpoint with your values and beliefs, but from theirs and with their values and beliefs. You don’t have to agree with them but you can learn to respect that they are entitled to their views, just as you are to yours.
Many see authenticity as an open invitation to say whatever they are thinking, regardless of how appropriate it is to the situation. I view Authenticity as being open and effective in expressing oneself and that involves expressing emotions at the right time, to the right people, and in the right way. Being Authentic without considering the points above is not being Authentic, it is being blunt and the two are not the same!
Emotional reasoning is the skill of taking emotional information (how you are feeling AND how the other person is feeling) and combining it with other facts and information when decision making. People are influenced by emotion and if you fail to consider that fact when decisions are made, and if you don’t apply some facts to the mix, you may not achieve the best decision or outcome.
I’m not sure when we decided that it was offensive to ask? For example, If you are not sure if a woman identifies as a women don’t ask “ do you identify yourself as a women?” but how about asking something like “Is there a specific gender that you identify yourself as being” or if that is too wordy for you then how about “which title do you prefer to go by”. When meeting new people, one of my favorite fall back questions is “what does that mean for/to you” it’s a great coverall (religion, culture, food preferences, sexual preference) it even works a treat when asking someone where they would like to go for lunch!
So, there are a few quick hacks for you to practice, I’m sure tentatively at first.
Go out with confidence, if you are open, aware (of yourself and others) and you are coming from a place of good intention, then you’re off to a great start.