06 September 2012

Offend People if You Need To

Something about being a human pushes us to believe that it is wrong to offend people. It’s as though we have a heard or pack mentality that drives us away from saying or doing anything that in any way could be construed as offensive.  On the surface, it sounds and looks like that is an ideal way to treat other people. But the simple fact of the matter is it’s not.

It’s important to be willing to offend people. It’s important to be willing to offend people because occasionally people are in a place where what they are doing is wrong and they are so convinced that it is right that the truth is offensive to them. There mind’s eye has become blind to the possibility of them being mistaken. As a result, the truth is offensive to them. However, not everyone who is wrong about what is right is so utterly convinced that they are right about what is right and they are open to suggestions that can lead them away from misunderstandings. However, if we are unwilling to speak the truth, then people who actually could change will not ever hear or see the truth and have the opportunity to shift their perspective and enter into a new, better paradigm.

In an almost contradictory way, then, being willing to offend people is truly an act of love towards others. No one wants to admit their wrong, but no one wants to continue to be wrong and have no one tell them about it either. Most people have been wrong about something at sometime in their life. The realization that they were wrong was probably unpleasant, but everyone who is honest with themselves would admit that they are glad they were shown they were wrong. So, being willing to offend people means being willing to step out and do something that is uncomfortable for you to do something that is uncomfortable for the person you are confronting in the hope that you may bring some positive revelation and change to that person.

I should point out that I’m not saying do everything you can to rub people the wrong way. If you are right about something and need to correct someone about it, there is a way to present your perspective in a palatable way that leads to the kind of change that you seek. In every way possible, you should do whatever you can to speak and to act in a way that leads that person to change. If there is a way to correct someone in a way that does not offend them, then clearly that is the best option. The problem is it’s not always possible to tell what is offensive to someone before saying it. So you have to be willing to say something that could be offensive, but try to say it in a way that is not offensive. It takes discernment and patience to speak to someone.
And whatever you do, don’t yourself become offended. If someone becomes offended and you become defensive to them, that only compounds the problem and will likely reinforce what they believe. After all, you are no better than they are. You became offended just like they did. If what you are saying is so much better, why do you become angry when someone questions it. Aren’t you sure of it?

There is a lot to be said about speaking to people in a discerned confrontational way. It takes work and understanding to season your words to taste good to people of different backgrounds, but it is an obligation to do what we can, and to make the learn how to and to make the effort to reach out to people who need help.

Isn’t that what you would want people to do for you?

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