Our world is currently plagued with conflict. Allegations of police brutality, racial injustice and wrongful deaths run rampant.
Given this emotionally charged environment, protests are bound to occur. Last Thursday I witnessed one first-hand.
I was headed southbound on 35W around 1:45 p.m. when traffic slowed to a crawl. I assumed there had been an accident, but it turns out a group of marchers were blocking northbound traffic.
As I drove past the protestors, I realized the side of the freeway I was on had slowed down because of gawking drivers. But on the north side, cars were completely blocked in, as far as you could see.
All I could think was what are these people doing besides making lots of motorists furious?
That’s why, when I got to my destination, I went to my Facebook feed and posted the following: “People, avoid 35W northbound at all costs. More on idiot pedestrian protestors at 5.”
In my defense, I did wish to warn my local friends of traffic delays. I also wanted to make a statement—share my view—that walking, standing, playing or protesting in the street isn’t smart. Still, I could have done it better.
The next time you feel the need to vent about something, here are some fail-proof communication strategies that will help you do it right:
- Decompress: Take a moment to cool down before you say, tweet or post something you’ll regret later.
- Speak the truth in love. There’s no place for name calling—ever. Even if you think a person’s actions are misguided, there’s always a way to voice your opinion without resorting to a derogatory term such as “idiot.”
- Avoid emotionally charged words: Words and phrases such as “hate,” “demand” and “axe to grind” only ignite more controversy. If you don’t have anything nice to say, at least be neutral.
- Take your opponent’s side into account. It’s much harder for your opponent to argue with you when you’ve already stated their objection. So look for any good or well-meaning intentions and weave them into your comments.
Before you act . . .
Consider this: only when you diffuse the situation can you get to real and meaningful change.
Feel like venting? Comment below.