It’s My Flag! – NO! It’s MY Flag!

© 2017 Trissan Dicomes

In this current political climate, we’ve all seen it:  Libtards and ConservaRATS and Snowflakes… Oh My! Deplorables, fascists, sheep, racists and Kool-Aid drinkers. If you read the comments on just about any political post (and many having nothing to do with politics) you’ll see:

  • “Real American’s voted for …”

  • “Americans want …”

  • “This is MY County and MY flag.”

Most of these are followed with several exclamation points and/or are in ALL CAPS (the typed version of shouting) as if that makes the statements more true.  Annoying isn’t it? How many times have you typed your own snarky reply?  I’ve done it.  I have also attempted to teach people something and been soundly put in place with well-thought-out comments such as “Your [sic] a idiot” and “Your stupid is showing.” Increasingly of late, I have had to remind myself of my own teachings as the BIFF Response® coordinator, which is not always easy since I’m also one of those humans with emotions (gasp!) and failings.

But here’s the thing:  I’ve been taught that giving in to those emotions by being snippy, sarcastic or defensive does not work.  In the context of dealing with high-conflict people (HCPs), Bill Eddy writes in the BIFF Response® book:

“When exposed to the intensity that high conflict people use in their Blamespeak, we get emotionally hooked (the right amygdala gets triggered) into defending ourselves. But logically there’s no need to defend yourself, because “it’s not about you.” You don’t have to prove anything. But emotionally it’s hard (but possible) to override personal attacks.

We have to train ourselves to remember during a high-conflict moment that it’s about the HCP’s inability to manage his or her own emotions and behavior, so we can switch ourselves back to our logical problem-solving left brains. There’s often no action we need to take at all.”

That’s not to say everyone on Facebook is an HCP, but all of us are subject to acting like one from time-to-time, especially when we can do so from the relative anonymity of a social media comment.  People have fears, hopes and desires all of which can be exploited by the media by politicians and by others making us reactive. We can, however, train ourselves to recognize when not to take action by automatically replying to something we don’t like. Like mom used to say “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

Other times, you may find yourself in a debate with someone who is being ornery but is otherwise trying to make a point from their perspective.  You can sometimes have an exchange of ideas with this person if you can avoid triggering the person – and yourself – into more conflict.  One way you can do this is called the “Socratic Method” in which you ask questions instead of making statements or assumptions.  The goal is to pose queries that get to heart of the person’s belief system. If you’re lucky, you may sway the person more to your point of view.  But at a minimum, “Why do you believe in climate change” will usually get you a more thoughtful reply and conversation than “Look, dumbass, climate change is a hoax.”  There is nothing wrong with a healthy debate at times, and you may actually learn something new and interesting if you give it a try, but if it veers into statements that begin with “but Killary,” “Obummer” or “Trumpelthinskin” you may want to politely exit the conversation.  Better yet, since its social media you can simply disappear from the conversation with zero awkwardness (Yay for technology-- you can even delete the whole thread in many cases).

There is also another facet of these diatribes that suck us in unaware: your fundamental beliefs and their beliefs might differ greatly and that’s OK.  If we all consistently thought the same about everything, we’d still be back in the Middle or Stone Age. Pythagoras broke ranks around 500 BC to suggest the world was not flat and he was eventually proven right. People scoffed at DaVinci’s early prototypes of helicopters – WHAT? Man can’t fly. Who ever dreamed you could zap sound and pictures around the world until Farnsworth introduced TV?

The point is that we have different ideas of which things are “true” and what other things mean.  The flag is a symbol. We agree the stars represent the states and the stripes represent the original colonies. Nowadays that’s about where the agreement ends, though, because it also represents our freedom and patriotism, and there is a vast difference of opinion on those subjects. Your freedom may be another person’s tyranny so if you don’t agree with something remember that you have options:  Ask them why they feel a certain way, ignore them, or argue with them. The choice is yours.  It’s a free country, after all.

Related Resources:

BIFF: Quick Responses to High-Conflict People, Their Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns

R U Talkin’ to the Wrong Brain?

Civility and the Surge Protector

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Trissan Dicomes is the BIFF Response® Coordinator for High Conflict Institute. She runs thewww.BIFFResponse.comwebsite and social media and she provides BIFF Response coaching. She has over 23 years' experience in the legal field and worked for 8 years at the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego with Bill Eddy and the Divorce Mediation program. During that time, she acquired hands-on experience helping clients learn to write and speak with the BIFF Response method and handle disputes with High Conflict People.