In a society that consists of various cultures and backgrounds, conflicting beliefs, personal opinions, and political viewpoints are inevitable. Such inevitability sometimes leads to heated discussions, which may lead to acts of physical violence.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of tolerance is the capacity for the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others. How can this be a proactive measure to either avoid or mitigate an emerging or potential threat?
How often have you found yourself in a confrontational discussion about zealous religious beliefs, hardened political positions, core human values, and the like? Such heated discourse may escalate to a shouting match or, even worse, a violent physical altercation. Having a permissive attitude toward those opinions and practices that differ from your own offers a plethora of opportunities to control and further manage a potentially confrontational situation.
De-escalation is the most common tactic to turn the flame down or off under a heated verbal altercation about to boil over. You control the escalation, or the escalation takes control of you. Fortunately, there are several de-escalation options that you can use to take and keep control of a potentially volatile conversation when utilizing tolerance as a proactive measure. These are presenting the facts, applying your knowledge, and demonstrating self-control.
PRESENT THE FACTS
“Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people learn from their experience, stupid people already have all the answers.” – Socrates
Most heated arguments are fueled by emotion as opposed to evidence or facts. Emotional arguments tend to be the most passionate and can lead from verbal to physical altercation.
One of the more expedient ways to quell an emotional argument is to turn to logic and reason. To quell the proverbial emerging beast, simply present the facts in a non-threatening manner as politely and respectfully as your pride allows. It’s a good idea to state your facts – more is always better. Cite your sources, dates, specific names, places, quotes, and exact details that support your point, all of which can be readily fact-checked. Additionally, politely offer others the opportunity to do so.
Nothing is louder than the voice of reason to a reasonable person. Let the facts and their citation speak for themselves and work in your favor. Suppose you calmly cite your sources and maintain a steady course of logic and reason. In that case, this tolerance measure stands in stark contrast to an emotional outburst and is observable to anyone else, including your antagonist, after they calm down a bit. You will have taken control of the conversation by illustrating this contrast.
APPLYING YOUR KNOWLEDGE
“It’s impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” Epictetus
It is commonly said that when a person’s cup is full, they can take on no further information. The student whose cup is full when they sit before a teacher cannot learn anything further. The same applies to that one person we’ve all encountered as the “know-it-all” who knows everything. One minute they’re a global pandemic expert, the next minute, they’re a foreign affairs correspondent, and then a political scientist.
However, when this person starts talking smack to you about a subject that you happen to have an extensive depth of knowledge, experience, and background. It could be something close to home as your profession or a well-practiced long-term passion or hobby. From their perspective, they will go on about how they feel about it, refer to something they had read online, or some experiences they may have related to it. Regardless, you know that they lack a similar depth of experience and understanding as you do.
Clearly, you have a greater knowledge and experience base. Still, they have become passionate about the conversation, and although you try time and again to support your position with facts, they remain adamant in their erroneous position.
You have two options here at your disposal. The first is to continue spewing fact after fact with cited sources and relevant personal experience. In most cases, this would positively impact a reasonable person. However, if they are overly emotional and you clearly see that they could care less about the facts, you have another tolerance option at your disposal. Yes, you may be far more knowledgeable and have exceedingly more experience. Still, you can always decide to smile, nod, and let them ramble on until they have finished spewing their emotional content.
You’ve already tried presenting the facts to no avail. The subject at hand is one with which you are intimately familiar, and you’re more than sound in your convictions. However, there’s no need for them to know that, and your permitting them to vent has allowed you to take control of the situation.
“If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation.” – Epictetus
Notwithstanding your presenting the facts and applying your knowledge to quell the argument, they continue anyway. Loud, unreasonable, emotional outbursts obviously heading in the wrong direction toward a potential physical outcome, you have a third tolerance option at your disposal.
Actions speak louder than words. Using non-verbal language such as presenting the palm of your hands, shrugging your shoulders, lowering your voice, and making such statements as “Yes, I can see your point!” cause them to believe that they have “won.”
In reality, you have exhibited tremendous self-control. In demonstrating that you have taken the higher ground, you have controlled the situation by refusing to remain an accomplice to an escalating altercation.
Without practicing tolerance, people often find themselves the target of hatred, disrespect, discrimination, and even violence. Practicing patience as a proactive measures places you ahead of the action-reaction power curve and in control of the situation.