Have you ever had an email so misinterpreted by the recipient to the point that it causes an argument? Or gotten into a virtual shouting match on social media with people you have never even met? How about trying to make a point to someone who is completely closed off and defensive of their way being the only way? Have you ever experienced this? Does the experience leave you angry, frustrated, and vacillating between thinking the other person is crazy or maybe you are? You are not alone….especially in the polarized environment we are currently living in.
For those of you who have the belief that you can and will find a way to make the other person see your side of things……I have a brick wall for you to bang your head into. Trust me, that is easier than what you are hoping to accomplish. So what is a person to do and why does this seem to be happening more and more? Has the entire world just gone mad?
For starters, electronic communication has overtaken in person and on the phone methods of communication as the dominant medium. Well, that presents a problem in itself as a full 80 percent of all effective communication is nonverbal. This means that our body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice are big parts of being able to deliver an accurate message. With the rise of the machines, we are suddenly losing a vital part of our human ability to work out our differences by talking to each other face to face. In fact, speech versus text disharmony has now been shown to be a tool in the propaganda box of our political arena. Scientific studies have shown completely different reactions by participants reading, hearing, and seeing the same statement. The way in which we communicate with each other truly does matter.
Even so, conversations face to face seem to be getting increasingly contentious. There is good reasons for comments being made that people seem to be more difficult and unreasonable than ever before. The term being used to describe this type of phenomenon is information gerrymandering. Research indicates that a group loses its ability to reach consensus or compromise when multiple individuals deliberately manipulate the narrative in a divisive way. The debate becomes ultra-polarized and the middle ground disappears. When dogmatic beliefs are held out to be more valuable traits than open mindedness and cooperation, any attempt to overcome emotions with facts will indeed fail.
Instead of losing hope in any ability to compromise, the actual best solution is to become acutely aware of your own responses and feelings. Instead of giving a knee jerk reaction as a response, take a deep breath….or a thousand…and remind yourself that you have no control over other people. This is albeit a tough thing to do, as most of us don’t want to accept our lack of control. Responding with loving detachment and disengaging from the urge to try reasoning actually gives you the power. It’s only through complete acceptance of just how powerless we are to control anything or anyone but ourselves that we can find inner peace. Self care, establishment of healthy boundaries, and loving detachment are the keys to stop feeling triggered and helpless.