How do you want to be remembered? What legacy do you want to leave behind? I’m not talking about when you die. Sure, that’s a part of your legacy, but I’m asking how you want people to remember you at the end of the day. What do you want to be your daily legacy?
If you want to get along with people – and that means communicate better with them, understand their perspective when it’s different from yours, and respect them as human beings –remember one simple thing: People will remember how you make them feel.
Imagine Betty and Frank arguing about some social issue. After going back and forth for a while Frank says, “I just can’t understand how you can believe that. You haven’t done your homework. You’re obviously biased and reached an opinion without giving it much thought.”
If you were Betty, how would you feel? You’ve not only been insulted for holding an invalid opinion, but you have also experienced condescension and arrogance. Would you be inclined to walk away and avoid any future conversations with Frank?
Suppose, on the other hand, Frank says, “I understand your argument and can see where you’re coming from. I get it but I’m looking at the issue from a different perspective and that’s part of the reason for our disagreement. I bet if we talk about this some more, we might even come to some sort of middle ground. For now, let’s just agree to disagree.”
The thing about this comment is that it probably makes you feel worthy of the discussion because it gives validity to your position.
The coping lesson here is that when you focus on how your words make others feel, and not on trying to convince them that you are correct, social interaction can proceed much more productively. Not only that, others are more likely to engage you in spirited conversation in the future. Wouldn’t that bring you a sense of satisfaction and empowerment?