A flood of self-righteousness washes over you; what you are about to say is correct and accurate, and everyone should know. What do you do? Do you let your wisdom rain down sparks of hot truth? Or do you offer your knowledge with grace and a cup of cold water?
Being right is only half of the equation. We are living in a culture, especially online, that reveres rightness over politeness. If you are right, many seem to think that makes it ok to be a jerk. I don’t think it does. How we treat each other matters deeply. How we treat someone weaker than us shows our character – and if you are right, you automatically possess power. How will you wield that power?
Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t just being nice or being a pushover. There is a time to be firm. Some moments require a frankness bordering on the brusk. But it is up to you to recognize the humanity in your audience and bring dignity to the way you reveal the truth.
Here is the secret: simply trying to bring grace, empathy, and humanity into what you are saying will make a difference. Recognizing that whoever you are talking to within any circumstance is just like you in one way or another will bring some needed softness to the most challenging conversations.
So be direct, but not sharp. You never know what power that person you are talking to may wield over you in the future.