The world is loud.
The world is full of viewpoints including your own.
Social media is beautiful until it gets opinionated. Then it becomes an overwhelming wave pool of strong stances and diminishing people’s thoughts and beliefs. In a world filled with perspectives and values, every one of them is valid because every person is of great worth.
How do we respect others’ opinions and beliefs without agreeing?
I think there are 3 steps we can take, both online and offline, to love and respect people well—without agreeing with them.
1. Remember: behind every comment or long ranting post is a human being.
Read through the post carefully and compassionately, even if you painfully disagree on the topic. Remember that the individual believes this as truth just as passionately and with as much conviction as you hold to your truth. This is real for them. No matter what you believe or think, this is what is right to them. They have feelings and hold on to beliefs just as strongly as you do. They need to be heard.
2. Respond; don’t react.
If you are ready to comment, engage and respond to the post. Don’t react emotionally; share your thoughts with respect and understanding. Nothing moves forward when we accuse and devalue each other’s outlooks. Ask questions, not for your own case against them, but to understand your friend better. Participate in a conversation. Try to find common ground. That doesn’t mean you agree or you are compromising; it shows you are willing to learn and get to know your friend better. Be sure to listen genuinely. We all have more in common than you think.
Remember: behind every comment or long ranting post is a human being.
3. Engaging will not always end well.
Some people will not want to give you a chance or take the time to “educate” you on their point of view. That is okay. If you are truly trying to know where someone is coming from, do your own research. Then try to enter the conversation again. If that does not go well, do not be discouraged. Sometimes when the subject is deeply personal, emotions dictate harsh responses.
It is not anyone’s fault; again, this is raw and real for them. Still, take the time to read other’s thoughts and let them know that they have been heard.
It is possible to hang on to what you believe to be true while living among opposing opinions. It is possible to be friends with people you do not agree with. Read and listen to what your friend has to say. Respond with grace and your honest opinion without diminishing theirs and try to find the common ground while sharing your truth. Don’t get defeated when a conversation does not go the way you hoped. The best thing we can all do is make space to hear one another. The rest will fall into place.
Our values can coexist without compromising what we believe is true. Amazing things happen when we take time to listen, respond, engage, and accept that we are all different, and maybe that is not something we should try to fix or change but enjoy, learn, and move forward towards peace.
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Don’t miss this recent podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: Miss Independent: Can You Be Healthy, Strong and Dependent? – 047!