Speak Now?

True friends are supposed to be dutifully honest and candid with one another, right? I struggled with this riddle over the weekend as I realized that a longtime friend of mine has developed a friendship with someone that I don't entirely see eye-to-eye with on most matters in life. It isn't an issue of being right or wrong, we are just different. And, for the most part, that's fine. But then something happens where you start to feel that something is taking place that is slowly approaching the line between different and “not good.” Do you speak up?

Like many of you, I have developed deeply-rooted opinions as I have become more educated and have experienced many authentic moments in life. These opinions might have first started with my upbringing and elementary education, but at some point there was a dramatic shift. The shift began to transpire while in college as I realized that I was very much in the driver's seat of my future and no longer in the passenger's seat watching a parent guide the wheel. My values, beliefs and habits only became more ingrained as I lived life in my 20s and experienced peaks as well as valleys in both my personal and professional life. This is no tall tale and I am confident that many of you can nod your head in agreement with this similar timeline of self-discovery.

Now we have our voice, we like our voice and we stand behind our voice. With this realization, there is acknowledgement of there being a voice on the other side of the table that is in conflict with your beliefs, an opposition to your opinions. I realized this past weekend that up to this point in life, I have had the distinct luxury of selecting my friends and ultimately deciding who is a part of my life. At some point this changes and we must face personalities that perhaps we would rather not encounter in the first place. A co-worker, a fellow mom in your neighborhood, the girlfriend of one of your boyfriend's friends or a new friend of one of your old friends.

I found myself approaching a very dangerous zone this weekend; the bad-mouthing zone. It is a place where I start to voice my opinion and in order to make a statement, I must contrast it against something or someone with the ultimate goal of putting my perspective in bright lights and the other person's in a dark place. Sounds innocent enough, right? But I still held my tongue.

Our challenge as decent human beings is to maintain our opinions and values with integrity. This means speaking with constructive criticism and showing respect to our fellow beings. If I haven't lost you yet in my stream of consciousness about life and relationships, then I will leave you with this to ponder. At what point do we know better than to think that we know best?

Image courtesy of Andersonleadershipsolutions.com

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