It’s easy to spot on Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, though it’s just as prevalent offline, as well: the inclination some have to find a reason — no, really more like an opportunity — to disagree.
Online, it typically goes like this (example made up but based on actual ones):
1. Someone posts a principle-based statement that clearly holds true in context.
Unnecessary fears can stop you from taking that important step toward success. Take action despite your fear!
2. Someone posts a response pointing to the one exception. (Some do this insultingly – others simply really believe they are adding value to the conversation)*
But what about those times when you would be putting your life in danger?
or, the nasty person responds…
Stupid advice. Are you telling someone to put their life in danger?!
3. Back and forth begins with original poster (unless choosing to ignore) responding with either patience or annoyance.
You are a _____ moron. Did I not begin tweet with the words, “UNNECESSARY fear.” Get a life (Of course, I don’t advise this response but have certainly seen it, often with cuss word in place of the blank line. However, this is a “family-style” blog) 🙂
4. Responder rarely agrees but perhaps feels good in that oh-so-strange way that argumentative people do.
Again, this also happens offline in one-on-one, group and presenter/audience conversations.
* Please don’t misunderstand my intent here and write, “So, Bob, you’re saying we should never say anything and just let people spout off nonsense that could be hurtful to people reading it who don’t know better?” (hmm, Holy Irony, Batman!). 🙂
There’s nothing wrong with questioning a statement. In fact, how cool when, regardless of the medium, we can all learn from one another through honest and respectful dialogue. Love it!
What I’m suggesting to those with the habit of pointing out the one contrarian example in an otherwise sound and principle-based statement is:
- Think about it first.
- Look for where you agree. Only then — if you feel it necessary — note the flaw.
- IF you feel it must be communicated publicly, do so politely, tactfully and respectfully. A couple of ways to begin would be, “Appreciate your thought. Just wondering, what…” or “If I may ask…” Personally, when possible, I choose to do it privately.
- Before hitting send or asking the question, ask yourself if your motivation is genuine desire to add value or if you are disagreeing simply as a way to get attention or begin an argument.
Whether online or offline, there is a way to agree and disagree, and a way to make yourself heard. Do you want to be taken seriously by others and expand your influence? Than make sure when you do this, it’s for the right reason.
And, a good first step is to question your motives? “Am I looking for points of agreement upon which to build a dialogue or for points of disagreement for…other reasons?
Now…feel free to disagree with me. I promise not to answer like in the earlier example. 😉