Do the Right Thing

Spirit, science, and health

You Can Argue Fair and Respectfully Every Time

If you see the divine in all you'll argue with folks very differently.

We all get angry and have impulses to yell and scream at those who stimulate or unleash our upset. But most of us have learned over the years to thoughtfully manage these impulses to keep ourselves out of trouble (and out of jail as well). We count to ten. We walk away. We filter what we really want to say and do. We often learn the hard way that when we engage in an argument it is generally always best to treat others as you wish to be treated. The golden rule can be helpful and informative in terms of how best to disagree with others. Treating others respectfully is critical (and often challenging) in the heat of an argument. This is so often easier said than done of course. Additionally, we tend to argue with those closest to us like spouses, children, siblings, and parents when our defenses are especially down (e.g., when we are hungry, tired, frustrated, and caught off guard).

One way to minimize the chances that a disagreement will get out of hand and out of control is to try your very best ...every day ...to see the divine spark in everyone. Just about all of the religious and spiritual traditions believe that something divine and sacred is located inside all. If you really try your very best to see the divine spark in each person you interact with  all of the time it is hard to aggressively argue with others or treat others in a disrespectful, mean-spirited, or cruel manner. Think of the development of this perspective like a muscle....you need to train it every day so that it will be ready when you really need it. 

The popular eastern greeting, Namaste, does exactly this. The greeting means that the divine in me recognizes the divine in you. Using the Namaste greeting (or at least thinking in these terms) might help you to experience everyone as sacred all the time. You really don’t need to like everyone or agree with them to make this strategy work.  So, when you look at folks where ever they might be....look for the divine within. 

Try it. See how it works for you.

 

Thomas Plante, PhD, ABPP, is the Augustin Cardinal Bea, SJ University Professor at Santa Clara University and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University.

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