I’m offended. In fact, I’ve been offended a lot lately. Most often the offender is on social media. It likely won’t surprise you the topic of the offensive dialogue is political, and some of it is simply vile.
Being a quiet person sometimes means choosing my battles wisely. In other words, I do my introverted best to think about how I’ll respond and then go to sleep with the offensive comments still at the forefront of my mind. Then I start a new day, still stewing and overthinking whether to respond.
I’ll give myself and all the quiet introverts a pass on this one because we’ll soon want to retreat, and if we are in the midst of a heated discussion it can be difficult to do so.
It is true that certain topics are best avoided in business and social settings. They’re the topics that we tend to be overly passionate about, both positively and negatively.
Money, religion, and politics, also referred to as the big three in this post, are minefields. At Business Class my mission is to help you look and feel confident in every situation, and politics at work is a popular topic.
Because we’re in the midst of a presidential campaign and an upcoming election, it has been interesting to see the other side of associates you’ve always considered to be mild-mannered —that is until now.
As an introvert, I can handle small talk and don’t necessarily hold back with my opinions on certain issues. What I do not want is to open the door to a conversation where the offender who initiated it is so overly passionate, the back-and-forth opinionating feels like it may not end any time soon.
It’s my preference to limit adversarial conversations, and when they do come about for any reason, to limit the length of the conversation, while still making my point and hearing the other person’s.
Now to be sure, no one can offend you without your permission. Everything that you take in either through visual or auditory means has a filter, and that filter is your mind. You have the ability to accept or reject the information.
So we find it difficult to shrug off people’s opinions because “the big three” cut to the core of who we are and what we value. Knowing that a person with whom we must work shoulder to shoulder, serve with a smile, or connect over Zoom vehemently opposes your stance can be a hard pill to swallow.
Add to that the penchant nowadays to air one’s offensive opinions publicly for all to see, and too often without penalty.
Clearly everyone who comes across the content is not offended, and those wayward folks are granted the use of the Like button. Others of us are left to ponder why that once-favorite co-worker or customer chose to hurl insults in a public forum with seemingly no regard for anyone who may take great offense.
No one is a born offender, and it is indeed a learned skill. The same can be said for anyone easily offended. And that is why there are longstanding rules for discussion of the big three in polite company.
The best rule of thumb before exposing your political opinions to the world, or at least to your circle of friends which on social media may very well end up being “the world” is to assume everyone is on the opposing side and you have the potential to offend every single person who comes across your post.
We have the ability to take in information, comments, and opinions and filter them right out. No positive outcome will arise from voicing your opinion either face-to-face or in writing when a valued customer makes it clear they oppose your political ideology. Nothing good will come of it.
Enter the conversation knowing that you’re in it for the long haul, and that may be longer and more involved than you prefer. You have a right to be comfortable and feel non-threatened, and to work with people who do not knowingly offend you and cause undue emotional harm based on their views.
No one can offend you without your permission. Speaking up and providing a response demonstrates that you are to some degree offended and/or angry. It is likely not worth permitting ignorance to benefit from more eyes seeing potentially negative, vitriolic back-and-forth on your platform.
Sometimes the best course of action is to take the high road and do what a true quiet person often prefers — saying nothing at all.