I’ve been focused on disagreements lately … We all have these interactions every day if you think about it. The question is more about how we interact when we disagree with someone. In that moment, we TELL for better, or worse. The goal is #TELLforGood. That is, teach, encourage, listen, and love for good – not to hurt relationships and situations.
I was running the other day, and I heard two people screaming at each other, using one foul word after another. My first thought was a public domestic dispute, but the closer I got to the scene I witnessed a man and woman yelling about how awful of a driver the other one was, “Who in their right mind would ever give you a driver’s license!” followed by a series of angry profanity.
It amazes me how complete strangers can get into such heated discussions. People who have never met. People who have no clue what the other person is going through that moment, or earlier that day, or ever; and yet, they judge each other as guilty and unacceptable. The whole exchange is about proving the guilty and unacceptable verdict.
Apparently, both were driving in the neighborhood – a two-lane road. The woman passed the man thinking he was going to turn right onto a street, but he changed his mind. Simple misunderstanding on her part, I thought. He obviously did not see it that way.
The yelling continued “Where do you live?”; “I’m not letting you know where I live, you’re crazy, who knows what you’ll do to me.”; “Me crazy, you’re the crazy one, you #@%$#!” on and on.
I shook my head and asked why? Why would two complete strangers carry on an argument like this?
Is it because they are truly upset over what just happened? Did they feel threatened, attacked, or devalued by how the other person is driving? Or was one or both of them upset to begin with and were they using this opportunity to unload the built up anger? In other words, were they using the stranger as an emotional punching bag to release tension?
As an outsider, I thought the whole interaction was unnecessary and did not make sense. I wondered how many others were listening to this exchange. I decided to turn around and head the other way, best to avoid this exchange all together. This was none of my business!
As I continued to run, I could not help but think more about the heated and hurtful exchange. Why do people argue like that – and is it any different when it’s a stranger or someone you are close to? Why do people feel they have permission to be so hurtful to another? Is it habit?
If you’re reading on to get an answer… well, I am not sure! But, I do know this. When you use hurtful words, you hurt the relationship… and yourself. You are TELLing the person one of the following messages:
I expect you to see and do things my way, or I will hurt you with words and/or actions.
It is your fault I cannot control my words and actions; you are the reason I had to use those words and/or actions.
I will do whatever I want regardless of how it affects you.
There may be many other messages being communicated in heated arguments like the one I witnessed that day – as well as the ones I have personally experienced in life. Let’s accept that arguments, even heated arguments, happen in everyone’s life at some point in time. The key is to pay attention and realize the messages you are TELLing about yourself in those moments.
You are teaching a message about who you are in the situation and relationship. You are also encouraging, listening, and loving a message – for better or worse. Become mindful of the messages you are giving to others, and maybe one day we all will become better at sharing our thoughts and feelings, even when we are hurting. Or at least, we may be less hurtful to one another.
From this day forward, let’s work on refusing to engage in hurtful interactions. Let’s refuse to interact with cursing and quick-tempered words which lead to rebellion and destruction. Think before speaking, seek to TELL for good. #TELLforGood