We all know it is a challenge to stay respectful, patient and calm with people who don’t mind upsetting us, especially in this age of social media. It is very tempting to react, to lose our patience, and say something hostile, critical or petty in return. If we do this, we lose our peace and find ourselves involved in a battle of sorts. It may be a minor battle of verbal put-downs, or it may escalate into something more hostile and angry, but one thing is sure: the residue of such an interaction is not positive.
We are left feeling agitated and perhaps upset, as is the other person. Even if you think you ‘won’ the exchange, and successfully put them down, belittled them, outsmarted them, what is the consequence within your own heart? Your ego may have been strengthened, but your heart has been weakened because you chose to override the instinct to be civil, to respond with maturity and respect.
If you had done so, no matter how rude and inciting the other person was, they would have learnt something from you. They would have learnt something about maturity, decency and respect. They would have learnt how to rise above the desire to argue, and satisfy the ego’s petty desire to be right, to ‘win’.
If a person tries to bait you, insult you and encourage you to argue, and you remain respectful and genuinely polite and tolerant with them, they will learn something. They will likely become aware of the childishness of their own behaviour, and respect you for not insulting them when you had every justification to do so. This is when humility has the opportunity to come into someone’s heart, and replace any arrogance and aggression that may have gripped them. This can change a person’s stance, countenance and attitude in a powerful way, when they meet someone who did not stoop to the level of petty argument, and remained respectful, mature and tolerant of their hostile attitude.
This is the way we can truly influence others to better people: to be more mature, respectful and composed. We have to be an example. There is zero effectiveness in critically telling someone about their faults, and hoping they will somehow change. They will not. People aspire to a better example, just like children do. They recognise more noble, mature, intelligent and tolerant behaviour, and this makes them aware of their own need to develop these qualities within themselves. It gives them an example of how to be a more mature and evolved human being, and highlights any immaturity with which they may have been conducting themselves.
We should never react another person’s pettiness, intolerance and eagerness to argue. Simply be respectful and show a better way of interacting. Refuse to give in to pettiness and hostility yourself, and something important will be shared and thus learned by those with whom you communicate. Be respectful, no matter what, and people will respect you, appreciate you and learn from you. Be an example to all.
“Develop the strength of your heart”
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