The Virtue Of Diplomacy…
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This is my favorite time of year. Today is the 17th of May, and it is a really big deal in Norway. It is their constitution day, when they declared independence from Sweden. I’ll be attending a big Parade today in Ballard Washington, and for all of my Norwegian listeners, I would like to say; Gratularer med dagen! Hip hip hurrah!
It’s good to celebrate all the good things in life, because life can really get heavy sometimes can’t it? I find myself, in today’s political climate spending a certain amount of energy on simply not engaging. It isn’t just the political climate though, it’s the racial climate and all the things going on internationally as well. There is also gender issues and healthcare issues and a whole list of other things that are just there every time you turn on a computer or have a conversation with somebody. That is the world we live in today.
When I said I find myself spending energy on NOT ENGAGING, what I meant was that it is way too easy to get caught up in all this stuff. With this many opinions in the world I really have to watch myself. I cannot allow myself to get triggered by something someone says that I think is inaccurate. Why? Because it is not productive. It does nothing to advance my life or my situation.
Just this evening I witnessed a debate on Facebook between two guys I went to school with. They are on opposite sides of the issue they are talking about. I watch as their comments become more and more personal, more aggressive, and sharp. Eventually, they both turn into elementary school children hurling insults, and what is the product of all this vitriol? Is anyones mind changed? No. The only thing produced by all of it is bad feelings between two people who otherwise, would be friends.
I have plenty of opinions myself. Furthermore, I enjoy a good intellectual debate about something—but this was not an intellectual debate. I was tempted to jump in the ring with my two friends and let them know what I thought as well. I didn’t though, because I have learned it accomplishes nothing. It only produces more negativity and I can’t be a party to that.
In the past, when I have gotten caught up in this stuff I found that it occupied way more of my band-width than it should have. You steam and stew about it, you get angry. You go to bed thinking of all the other brilliant points you could have made and it leaves you with a bad feeling about the person you were engaged with.
So now I spend energy staying out of things like that, because it is still less energy than I would waste if I got into it, and make no mistake, it is a complete waste of energy because it accomplishes nothing.
The reason I’m talking about this is because it matters how we navigate through the world. It matters how we interact with people and conduct ourselves. Part of our job as men in my opinion, is to preserve the most important things we have, which are our relationships. The ability to rise above the emotional fray requires maturity, common sense, and character. If I had to be angry at everyone I know who thinks differently than me…that would become a full time job, spent on something that is entirely negative. That just doesn’t seem smart in my book.
The question then becomes, how do we stay out of these childish squabbles and still remain a self realized, fully expressed adult in society? The thought of never commenting on anything or engaging in discussion seems very limiting…and it is. I would never suggest that you do that, I think men should be seen and heard.
I think the most important thing to do is learn how to choose your battles wisely. Sadly, I have found that there seems to be a very small percentage of the population that is capable of discussing things without getting emotional. We have all seen people go to the red zone in seconds and become super angry when their cherished belief is questioned. The problem with that, is when people are angry or emotional, they cease to be rational. Having a discussion with an irrational person is pointless. Therefore, I will not engage people who are not capable of keeping their emotions in check.
What sometimes works for me when someone wants to hear my point of view, and I know it’s different than theirs, is I set ground rules right up front. I tell them I will be happy to have a discussion as long as we approach it intellectually. I tell them as soon as it becomes emotional I will leave the conversation.
It’s amazing. When you get an agreement from someone prior to starting a conversation it’s a whole different world. Suddenly you are both free to express yourself without trying to prove something. You are exchanging ideas and opinions without someone insisting on being right. The best part though, is that you both have an opportunity to hear one another. People who are angry don’t hear, they can’t because they are too busy formulating their next verbal onslaught, instead of listening and responding.
This method isn’t easy, especially if you have never tried it. It takes practice. Diplomacy is a skill that you can spend a lifetime improving. It is an extremely valuable skill that I encourage you to develop though. Diplomacy causes us to exercise our character and develop our communication. It results in being heard more than you are not heard. Ultimately, it gives you more opportunity to have positive influence on the world around you than you would have otherwise. All of these things are part of being a better man today than you were yesterday.
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Now head out into the big world and learn how to choose your battles. Promote positivity in all of your interactions and do not get involved in irrational conversations. These are just a few things that will help you be a better man today, than you were yesterday.
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