One day I was talking to a colleague and she asked me if I would like to support Breast Cancer Research with a donation. I politely said no thank you. Now I had my reasons but I kept them to myself because I know it can be a touchy subject. However, she insisted that I share my reasons and so I did. As I began to list my reasons, she freaked out and began to verbally attack me. She cried and accused me of not caring. She also said that I didn’t know how it felt to lose someone close to me from this disease as had happened to her. I felt terrible so I tried to explain myself, however, the more I tried, the worse the situation became. She told me never to speak to her again.
What happened? What went wrong? What could I have said differently? Should I just avoid these situations so it wouldn’t happen again?
Little did she know, I have lost friends and family to cancer. I do know how it feels. And most importantly, I do care. She assumed otherwise because my beliefs and approach were different. Regardless, I still felt terrible about the whole thing.
About one year later, she approached me. Now I still said hi to her from day to day but that was all. So I did not know what to expect from her, especially after how we left off. To my surprise, she apologized. She was sorry about getting too emotional and losing control. All I could think of is how she came to this conclusion. So I asked her.
She told me that she had taken a course in school on debating. This course helped her realize the mistakes she made whenever she got into a debate with anyone especially when she was emotionally attached to the subject. Her teacher used a great technique in particular. An emotional subject was chosen and the class was asked which side of the debate they believed in. The class was then divided and to their surprise, they had to debate for the opposite side.
I love it! This is a great practice (habit). Here you will learn real empathy – how to put yourself in others shoes and learn to see a situation from their point of view. You will find yourself getting into less heated arguments and into more intellectual (educational) discussions. How can you expand your learning if your mind stays closed to other ideas? What’s worse, you end up building grudges with anyone who disagrees with you. This makes it difficult to be around others with varying points of view. As for my colleague, she went from hating me to being completely open to my opinion. With this new habit, she has now gained a new perspective and will expand her mind.
Don’t hate, debate and keep your mind open to new ideas.