Got a problem? Time to talk

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 4/3/24

It’s probably safe to say by now you’ve probably heard the expression, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

As right as it was …

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Got a problem? Time to talk


It’s probably safe to say by now you’ve probably heard the expression, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

As right as it was when our mom or dad were firmly staring down at us, the truth is the old expression sometimes is easier said than done.

No question about it.

When we find ourselves in some kind of conflict with another person, our natural response is probably going to be to want to fight back.

Naturally of course. We’re human beings after all and when you add a Wyoming mentality to it, sometimes having to bite our tongues and not say anything whatsoever can be the most difficult thing in the world hands down.

If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.

The reality is, there’s a stone cold truth to that old iconic saying. The second we find ourselves in some sort of conflict or disagreement with someone, no matter what we are talking about we immediately feel the objective is to win the argument. We feel we have to win, even if there really is nothing to be gained from it.

We tend to instinctually forget that even in a small rural town where we all tend to be acquainted with one another, we naturally feel compelled to force our personal stance onto someone. We aren’t meaning to of course. Sometimes we may just become so passionate about something we feel strongly about, we forget in the intensity of the moment we are in fact treading on someone.

Once again, every single one of us is guilty of this. We sometimes forget at the end of the day in the United States of America, not everyone is going to feel the same way about every topic as everyone else.

There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually called freedom. It’s what we stand for, it’s what we have fought so hard for and it’s what we live for.

Moving forward, other times when we disagree with someone we have the capacity to just give up, and write them off completely. This seems to be happening more and more in recent years, and it’s becoming rather confusing or even concerning when we live in the land of the free.

Maybe this derives from the old lesson of if we can’t think of anything positive to say, then we just don’t say anything period.

Perhaps the problem is we have forgotten how to reach a bit of understanding from someone else, even if we don’t necessarily agree with what they believe or what they are trying to say.

The solution to this may be rather than not saying anything at all, there needs to be more communication, not less. This does not mean yelling, it does not mean arguing and it certainly doesn’t mean insulting or demeaning another person just for having a different view on something. When it gets to that point, absolutely nothing is going to be accomplished other than furthering a barrier which doesn’t even need to be there.

Communication is by far the key word here. When we actually communicate, we are in fact showing those virtuous traits called decency and dignity. When we’ve entered this realm in a problem or disagreement, there is absolutely no way anyone can lose. Quite honestly, both parties are going to walk away feeling much better about everything as they were able to reach an understanding.

This is when we can actually get things done and everyone can win.

But remember there is a way to do this, and it’s going to require a bit of restraint, compromise, or even a little sacrifice on our own part.

If we ever want someone to really understand something we feel strongly about, publicly belittling or berating someone for not agreeing is not going to bring them over to “your side.” Like we’ve already said it’s going to have the opposite effect, nothing gets solved and it ends up just stoking more division. Once again we have to communicate more, and we have to do it in the right way.

This reporter can recall some of the most valuable lessons on this topic were of course taught by public school teachers. Ones that loved their job, did not pick favorites and wanted to see each and every student succeed.

One specific teacher discovered how to get their point across on serious subjects through discreet and respectful communication, not public humiliation or beratement. The teacher realized if they did this with their students they would earn no respect or understanding whatsoever.

On one particular occasion, this teacher felt the time had come to talk with a student who by all intents and purposes was choosing to not meet classroom expectations. This had been going on for quite some time. The student and teacher couldn’t see eye to eye on one single thing, and each party was about to completely give up on the other.

The teacher however knew the time had come to change their approach. They had been going about it all wrong with this particular student, and it was time to try something different.

Rather than laying down the law publicly in front of the entire class like they usually did, this teacher discreetly called the student to their desk and asked them to stay and talk after class.

He made sure to clarify the situation by saying, “You are not in trouble, I just want to talk to you.”

Once the class had left, the teacher initiated the interaction by merely asking the student questions. “Why do you feel this way? What is it you need? Help me understand why this is going on? What can I do differently?”

Just questions one on one with one person to another. The teacher-student dynamic was still there, but the two were communicating on a much more respectable and even plain.

After this conversation and despite numerous differences which still remained, the two had reached an understanding. Once again, the key word there is understanding.

Remember part of living in a free country is being able to express yourself freely, but we have to realize there are just too many different issues and opinions out there.

If we truly want peace, tranquility, and prosperity (and yes we all want those three things), we are going to have to have understanding a lot more often.

The way we do that: sit, listen, and communicate. Try to understand.