I started thinking about this post weeks ago when something happened online. First let me step back and share this sad but true fact; I've been in two fights in my life and I'm 0-10. That's right, two fights but 0-10 because so many guys beat on me! I joke and tell people that's why I got involved with taekwondo but truthfully I took up the sport to spend time with Abigail.
I don't view myself as an aggressive person although I am competitive. While I was in college I was a bouncer ("crowd control engineer" was how it was listed on the resume) but never once did I get in a fight. I was proud of that considering I worked every Saturday and Sunday for a year and a half. I knew other guys who looked at the job as a license to beat on people who got drunk and acted up but I wasn't that kind of guy.
My fights occurred when emotions got the best of me, aided by some cheap beer, and I jumped in where I had no right to. Both times there were about five guys taking me on because in my younger days I was a competitive bodybuilder and powerlifter, weighing anywhere from 220 lbs to 240 lbs. But size didn't matter because I didn't know anything about fighting.
For the most part I think I've learn my lesson not to let my emotions get the best of me and to not jump into situations that are none of my business. Having shared that, I recently I got smacked down pretty good...online. A friend shared something about a Web site and I was curious so I visited the site. What I read reminded me of Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street where he said, "Greed is good." This time it wasn't greed that was being exulted, it was arrogance. My take was that the author was extolling the virtues of arrogance at the expense of humility so I wrote the following response:
"Wow! It’s good to know there’s someone out there so much wiser than all the great thinkers of history who espouse the virtue of humility. Sure, we can work hard and accept the praise that comes with achievement but there is far too much outside our control that helps shape who we are to not have some measure of humility. Humility is attractive because it shows people understand who they really are relative to other human beings. Arrogance on the other hand is never attractive."
My first sentence could have been less antagonistic but I thought my point was valid. I have to admit, I was not ready for what ensued...a good old fashioned beat down! I thought someone might jump in and defend humility over arrogance but no one did. Every response made me out to be some kind of loser or villain. One person wrote, "If you have a problem with another’s lack of humility, I’m going to guess it’s just one of many problems from which you suffer. Humility is affected and your desire to see it in others only belies your own lack of self-worth." Ouch! I was really surprised someone could form such a character judgment based on four sentences. I'm human, have many faults and have done things I'm not proud of but maybe that acknowledgement leads to some measure of humility. As for self-worth, I have it in abundance and it's affirmed daily by friends and family.
I did feel a bit better when one person tried to convince readers that Jesus was arrogant because at that point I felt they were all out of touch. I guess I need to reread The Bible because I could have sworn it talked about how he humbled himself to the point of death on a cross. The people who thought He was arrogant were the very people who sentenced Him!
I've not shared the Web site on purpose because I don't want anyone visiting it and stirring up the pot any further. I accept that different people have different opinions. The point for me writing this blog post is not to debate the issue because that would be a waste of time. Since I'm someone who tries to help others communicate better I have to look at myself and see what I can do differently next time. Here are some things I have to remember if I want to be a more persuasive person:
- Pick my "battles" wisely. Sometimes it's apparent you won't change another person's mind so it's pointless to waste time and effort. One friend put it well when he said arguing with them, "would be like teaching a pig to sing: wastes your time and annoys the pig."
- Check my emotions. Humility doesn't need me to defend it. Far too often reacting to emotion rather than choosing to thoughtfully respond only leads to trouble.
- Be tactful. As I shared, my opening line didn't open communication it was antagonistic.
One last note, a big thanks to Micheal Franzese for the cool drawings. Check out his blog FranzeseInklings for more drawings and his interesting thoughts on just about everything.
Helping You Learn to Hear "Yes!"