A friend posted a conversation this week on Facebook responding to some accusations that he intentionally set out to offend people. A great conversation ensued around active thought and mindset.
About the same time, another leader I follow posted a podcast about approval addiction.
Just a couple days prior, I received an email from someone telling me how much they love my organization, but were offended by the subject of my email and just wanted to send me some feedback.
I really like the things that these 2 conversations got me to thinking, and I am intrigued by the idea that there are people who would really be offended.
Growing up, I was never one to follow the crowd. As I got older, not following the crowd became part of my identity. So much so, that sometimes if a thing got too popular, I stopped liking it. I've always been extremely proud of my individuality and my ability to respect the same in others. Admittedly, I am also very sarcastic, and have a sick sense of humor.
With the advent of social media, blogs, podcasts, personal websites, and all the avenues to "put yourself out there", people are stating their mind more than ever. I quote a portion of a speech from "An American President"
America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free".
We all absolutely have the right to be offended by another's statement or point of view. We have the right to debate, question and educate one another. But we have to be willing to receive the same.
We do not have the right to silence another person, but we do have the right not to listen to that person if we don't want to hear what they have to say.
Many of us grew up with the adage "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." While I can't say I comply with that entirely, I would say that it saddens me greatly that so many people will give more energy to complaining than to thanking.
After lunch during a training over the weekend, I made a point to thank the hostess for taking special care of our group. They rearranged tables so that 12 of us could eat together, and gave us each separate checks. When I addressed her, she visibly jumped. She was more than a little surprised to receive positive feedback from a customer leaving the restaurant. People go out of their way to complain, but not to give simple thanks. What a shame.
We are the product of our environments folks. You may have heard it said that you reflect the 5 people you spend the most time with, and many of my personal development friends talk about energy takers and energy builders. You reflect all of the things that you take in. Garbage in, garbage out as they say.
If you find yourself confronted with someone or something that offends you, make an empowered choice. I don't apologize for offending you, but I welcome your thoughts and opinions.