Jumping to conclusions is, I believe, part of being human. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to RESPOND with that jump to conclusion without doing your homework first to be sure that your “jump” isn’t going to land you in quicksand.
Don’t be so quick to make accusations without researching a problem, issue or situation and gathering all the information you can to make an informed, adult decision – and therefore, appropriate response. By making accusations and judgment calls instead of asking questions and seeking evidence, you may damage or even destroy a relationship, whether personal or professional. And along with that, the level of trust that existed in that relationship may be difficult to regain.
Now, people who know me well may say that I’m the pot calling the kettle black. But if those same people are paying close enough attention, they’ll realize that in most cases, I don’t just throw out accusations or spout off without doing some thinking and research first. When I DO respond to a person, or situation, it’s with some facts to back up my position.
I have a temper, and historically, have been quick to judge and offer my often unsolicited opinion (well, I still do that, but it’s usually from a place of experience and knowledge instead of just wanting to hear the sound of my own voice). I also am about as far from “politically correct” (an oxymoron, if I’ve ever heard one) as you can get and still be somewhere in the realm of “tact.” In the past few years though, I’ve been striving more to consider the thoughts and feelings of my fellow humans (you’re welcome), by applying The Golden Rule to my responses and opinions.
In case you’ve forgotten the meaning of The Golden Rule, it’s simply this: to treat others the way you wish to be treated.
Here are a few things that I’ve learned to employ that help me with this:
- I write out my “rant,” either in the notes on my iPhone or in a Word doc on my computer. This helps me word vomit my feelings and jumps to conclusions without need for editing or considering how harsh or sarcastic my language. I know that THIS version will NOT be shared with anyone, so I’m free to be my most instinctive self in this medium.
- I pray about it. I know that praying should be first, and quite often it is, but there are times that I’m so angry or so hurt or offended that my default engages…my default is to write. So often I pray while I’m word vomiting. Whichever comes first, I usually do both.
- I “vent” to my mother. Sometimes this venting session is immediate, sometimes it’s after the word vomit, if I need a voice of wisdom. I thank God daily for my mother! She’s been my sounding board for years, and I trust her more than any other human on earth.
- If there is research to be conducted or education to be obtained (the issue is political or religious or scientific or some such), then I research multiple sources across the spectrum so that I at least have an idea of what I’m talking about. If there is no research to be gathered (it’s a personality conflict or difference of personal opinion with a co-worker or a friend, etc.), then after the word vomit, praying, and sometimes after the venting session to my mother, I’ll sleep on it.
I’ve discovered that all of this is important to my mental health. Recently I’ve discovered that if I don’t set boundaries with people, when my knowledge and experience are challenged (I don’t mean that people are asking my qualifications, I mean they are flat-out accusatory or demanding something I’ve already stated is either beyond my abilities, or impossible within a certain timeframe), I experience mini panic attacks. I HATE panic attacks! And the more birthdays I have, the more often these mini panic attacks happen if I don’t set proper boundaries. Therefore, the older I get, the less nonsense (“nonsense” as defined by me) I’m willing to put up with, the less compassion and tolerance I have for peoples’ drama (“drama” also as defined by me), and the more bridges I’m willing to burn.
These are all reasons WHY I employ the above steps before responding in most situations. As much as my knee-jerk reaction is to flood my social media and text messaging with hurricanes of sarcasm, virtually burn bridges both personally and professionally, the part of me that’s still in touch with reality in those moments realizes that by giving into those thoughtless reactions, I will end up marring my integrity and (mostly) good reputation. And my integrity and spiritual and mental health are more important than the momentary satisfaction that comes from a hurricane of sarcasm.
How about you? What methods do you use to avoid knee-jerk responses and less-than-thought-out reactions on social media or in private emails or text messages?