I'm not sure if you've noticed (just kidding, you've definitely noticed) that our world, our country, our communities are more divided than ever. Whether it's political, medical, religious, personal or something else, we're facing division unlike anything I've seen in my lifetime. But it isn't just differing opinions. It's the expressing of the differing opinions that is making the divide wide and harsh.
This is not a post about any specific issue at all. I have my personal beliefs and convictions and I know you have yours. Maybe we line up and maybe we don't. Either way, that's ok.
What this post is about is what to do with your unpopular opinion. Specifically in the workplace. Because it seems like everyone knows how to have a different or even unpopular opinion on social media, don't we? But I'm talking about real live, face-to-face interaction with a group of co-workers where your way of thinking and believing is challenged daily.
Maybe like me you feel a calling to stand firm in your convictions. But does that always mean speaking out?
Here are some tips to guide these situations:
1. Pause. Pause and consider what the other person is saying and consider if you need to respond and if so, how to respond. This may be something you can thoughtfully do in a matter of seconds. Sometimes, this may take more time. Resist the urge to speak before you at least pause briefly.
2. Ponder. Search your motives. Psalm 139:24-25 says, "23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Discern if you're motivated by authentic conviction that now is the time to share your perspective rather than pride or fear.
3. Know your audience and who you're dealing with. There are some people who will not be open to what you have to say, no matter how well you present it and by broaching the topic with them, you may actually do more harm than good. I was reminded of this recently as I was reading Proverbs 9:7-9. It says, "Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt. 8 So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you. 9 Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more." This was a good reminder to me that if someone doesn't have the same principles and opinions as I do, it may not be effective to have a conversation with them about certain topics.
4. Consider a conversation rather than a debate. This brings up a point I made in a previous blog about choosing curiosity over judgment. Proverbs 18:2 reminds us that "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion." Notice that this proverb does not mention whether the fool is right or not. He could be 100% right. But without first seeking understanding, he is a fool to air his own opinion.
5. Approach all things in love. In the end you are a lot more likely to gain influence if you focus first on "being right relationally" than on "being right."
Have you had an issue recently where you felt alone in your convictions at work? Or maybe not at work but in the neighborhood or in your group of friends or maybe even at the last big family get-together? These situations can be delicate and have the potential to draw someone closer to you or to blow up into a monsterous debate. Consider these five tips the next time one of these cases comes up and see where they lead you.
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