More often these days, I find myself faced with situations to which I feel driven to respond. Usually these are emotionally-charged issues, and it’s easy to want to respond quickly.
In the most emotionally charged situations, though, your first response is often the wrong response.
Learning to temper a particular comment or response with well-constructed logic is a challenge. It’s also incredibly frustrating when you want to enter a debate rapidly but are unequipped to engage with others in the conversation.
Speaking Too Quickly
The biggest danger of responding too quickly is that emotion and ego seep into the conversation. What begins as a well intentioned discussion quickly devolves into impassioned ad hominem attacks where no one comes out the winner.
This occurs most frequently when an individual involved in said debate feels deeply connected to an issue either through personal experience or some other close connection. Abstract ideas have personal impact and our ability to argue a point objectively dissolves.
Unfortunately, tools like Twitter make responding too quickly all too easy.
It’s often important to remember that, in the heat of emotion, our first thought on an issue is often wrong and better left unsaid. Take some time to think things over and change what could be a too emotional appeal into objective logic.
Conversely, it’s just as easy to overthink an issue.
I kept my opinions of Edward Snowden and his actions quiet for over a year. When I finally did voice an opinion, I was criticized more for the delay than for my argument. I took plenty of time to evaluate the many different facets of the issue as to not conflate my immediate emotional response with the one I published.
And the waiting back-fired.
I took so much time to consider the issue that my opinion lost relevance. The conversation moved on without me. This is the inherent danger in not speaking quickly enough, but is one of the risks we must accept if we’re to embrace a civil discussion rather than one fueled by knee-jerk reactions and emotional pleas.
So, consider all of the issues of today for which you might make an argument. Have you taken so long to comment that you risk overthinking the issue and, through your delay, losing relevance? Or are you speaking too quickly with a very emotional yet potentially very wrong first thought?