After what we’ve been through, it’s a question worth pondering.
My one-time co-anchor Jim Johnson asked me, when I was inclined to insist on my way about the issue at hand, whatever it was: “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?”
I, in turn, asked that question when a friend was in the midst of marital disharmony. She was sure that her husband was wrong about, well, everything. And she really wanted him to admit it. I asked the obvious question. “Look, would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?”
Linda was dumbfounded. Her response: “You mean there’s a difference?”
You’ve been there, I’m sure. It’s the principle of the thing, right? The other person is so totally, completely wrong about whatever, you feel duty-bound to point out the error of their ways.
Because surely then they’ll come to their senses and see it your way. And if they can’t—or won’t—come around, well then maybe this relationship can’t be saved. If there’s one thing you know for sure it’s that you’re right.
Me? I’d rather be happy.
I have strong opinions, for sure. And you already know I’m not really shy about sharing them. Some people (I’m not naming any names) have a hard time with that. That’s their thing.
My thing is I’d rather preserve the relationship than bludgeon the other person with how misguided they are. Even in this fraught-with-emotion election season, I’ve tried to stay open to folks who are clearly on the wrong side. Which is to say, not my side.
I admit, I’m often puzzled about how they can possibly see things the way they do. I wonder if they hear the same speeches I hear. If they read the same articles. If they study the same issues. If they live in the same universe!
And even with all those questions, I haven’t severed relationships, as so many people have.
A few Facebook friends have expressed surprise—and a trace of annoyance—that they see comments on my timeline reflecting vehement disagreement. It’s true, some exchanges among my FB tribe have devolved into ugliness. I’ve even deleted a few that surpassed my limits for mean or vulgar or hateful.
But I haven’t unfriended anyone on Facebook, much less in real life.
I’ve explained, more than once, that I’m actually glad for the comments from people on the other side. They don’t feel as good as agreement does, of course. We all like to have our views validated. But the contrary comments have their own value.
I don’t want to live in an echo chamber, exposed only to opinions that mirror my own. Even when it’s irritating—maybe especially when it’s irritating—I want to know what those other people are saying. And thinking. And feeling.
Not because I think I can change their minds. Not much chance of that. But because it’s good to know the range of attitudes out there. And to ponder how (or whether) we can find common ground about anything.
You may see it differently. I know a lot of folks who’ve felt so strongly about this campaign that support for the other side was a deal-breaker for them. Unfriending doesn’t even begin to describe what’s gone on there.
So maybe you’ve cut off people who disagree with you (on Facebook or elsewhere). Or maybe, like me, you’ve tried to keep the connection in spite of your differences. The question is: where do we go from here?
How do we mend fences with family or friends or clients or colleagues who supported another candidate?
One woman told me very directly that being open about my opinions would hurt my business. People on her side wouldn’t want anything to do with a speaking coach on my side. I hope she’s wrong. I guess I’m about to find out.
For my part, I’m still on speaking terms with people who voted the way I didn’t. I’m looking forward to conversations that aren’t about candidates. And I’m still committed to going high.
I’d love to hear from you about how you plan to move on in your personal and professional relationships now that Election Day is behind us. Post a comment about rapprochement…or the people you’ve deleted once and for all.
VERY WELL SAID CATHERINE. I am less surprised than many for various reasons and am trying to be optimistic. It’s a revolution, American style, and it will be interesting to watch it unfold. More and more people will be able to do that stoned … :).
I wasn’t so surprised either, Linda. Although in the last week or so I did start to get lulled into mild optimism, mainly by hanging out in the Pantsuit Nation on Facebook. So many women and so much positive energy! Yes, it will be fascinating to see how things play out now. I wonder how much we can, any of us, give up our need to be right.
Great remarks Catherine. It’s time to come together.
Thanks Karen. I’m guessing this won’t be easy. And I’m willing to be surprised.
Great article Catherine. I think it’s always important to listen to those with differing ideas; sometimes there is room for common ground.
Thanks, Ev. That common ground can be tough to find, but it’s always worth looking for it. We just might stumble across a treasure.
Planning for the future and moving forward one step at a time…
And one step at a time is about all we can do, isn’t it, Gale?
Thank you for this wise, thoughtful and compassionate post Catherine. Division will not help our nation or us as individuals, but you are more tolerant than I am! Thank you for your positive words and energy.
Thanks, Jennifer. I know how disappointed many of us are about how things turned out. And I’m hopeful that we can stay light about it. They say it’s an ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Maybe it will prove to be a blessing in some ways too.
As I started the day in shock, I was feeling a huge array of emotions..dampened by depression.
And I scrolled through FB for awhile….then email….then FB again. And then I saw a post from a realtor friend who said she could help people sell their homes and find new ones in Canada or Mexico! It made me smile.
I help people who are feeling helpless. So I offered my services to help prospective clients get out of the emotional rut and move forward.
I believe in democracy….so I move forward!
Yes to moving forward, Karen! It will be so interesting to watch how all this unfolds. And I bet you’ll find a lot of people who want out of a rut right about now.
I love what you said here. I did unfriend a few folks from Facebook but not for their political views. I think different conversations need to happen in order for the best solutions to be uncovered. But there is a line between differing political views on financial plans or trade agreements, it was the differences in values on things I consider of utmost importance which is common respect for all and their basic civil rights. Some conversations were so ugly I still cant erase the hate I heard and I just could not have that in my life. It ran far deeper than any candidate or election. The moral of the story find love my friends.
It’s true, Michele. Some things we can’t un-hear, and once we’ve heard them we don’t feel the same way about the people who said them. I’m with you on finding love. I think that can be challenging, but it sure is a worthy goal.