Posted by: codecalla | April 25, 2014

The Art of Getting Offended

Every potential interaction with other human beings, animals, inanimate objects, and nature itself creates a situation where offense is possible.  Our visceral reactions to outside stimuli can in fact limit our adaptability and ability to thrive.

1. When a storm throws a tree branch onto your vehicle while you are driving…do you..

  • “Oh, no, YOU didn’t!” anger (Perhaps take vengeance later on some potentially innocent tree)
  • Scream expletive of your choice out of fear.
  • Veer wildly
  • Maintain composure and deal with it

2.  Someone makes a joke that is derogatory toward others in ANY group

  • “Oh, no, YOU didn’t” anger
  • Laugh uproariously and then tell a better one with a different group as the focus
  • Frown and shake your head in disbelief, keeping silent about the offense
  • Mention that it’s hurtful toward others in that group, and you don’t find it funny

3.   Someone dares to disagree with you about any modern issue

  • “Oh, no, YOU don’t think you know more than me” anger
  • Add fuel to the fire, pointing out all of the problems on either side
  • Excuse yourself from the conversation, “I have to make a phone call, feed my cat, walk my parakeet” etc.
  • Listen carefully and calmly before answering their concerns sincerely.

We’re human.  We’re not perfect.  It’s easy to get offended.  The thing is that people manipulate others who are easily offended, by encouraging their emotional and visceral reactions, which are perfectly normal reactions.  Manipulators use the emotions to guide the listener’s reactions, beliefs, and thoughts toward an outcome that benefits the manipulator.  We have to learn to move beyond the visceral reactions to content.  We’re not all emotion.  We’re not all reason.  We misunderstand each other easily enough over cultural differences and methods of communication.    We don’t have to believe the same things, but we should at least recognize when we’re getting played by our own reactions.

I think that sometimes we have to open ourselves up a little and allow for offense in order to learn, but we should also recognize the boundaries of what’s truly important to us.  Let’s protect what’s important, and try to learn from each other.

Shakespeare said it best:

“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.”

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