Recently I was having a conversation with a friend who was frustrated that someone who she barely knows felt like she had the right to confront her about some things in her life. My friend acknowledged that she could use some guidance but this was not a person in her life that she felt knew her well enough to approach her with this “truth”. So right off the bat it made my friend skeptical of her intentions and less likely to be willing to listen.
Friends let’s talk about speaking truth for a minute. One of the things that REALLY bugs me about social media and the internet in general is that somehow it’s become acceptable to fling our “truth” to anyone out there.
And by truth I mean pretty much what we think on any topic at any given time.
Here’s why that doesn’t work:
Trust is essential to vulnerability and in order to truly influence a person’s viewpoint we need to first establish a relationship.
Social media is filled with what we call in the Daring Way™ the “cheap seats”. Using the metaphor of an arena as a place where courage is displayed, the cheap seats are filled with critics who are ready to throw tomatoes (or worse) at you in the form of anonymous criticism.
But “I have the right to my opinion”, we say. They’re asking for it by being online.
Well sort of. I’m not going to address why individuals sometimes choose to over-share online cause that’s a whole other topic. . . But yes in this day and age we all have the “right” to voice our opinions but here’s the thing, unless I know you, unless we have a relationship and I know you are personally invested in my life I don’t actually have to care about your opinion.
That may sound a bit harsh but we don’t have to let everyone speak into our lives. Not all opinions are equal. The truth is that if I’m struggling with something I will seek someone out that I trust; a close friend and mentor because they have earned the right to speak into my life.
How have they earned that right?
By listening. By being involved. By practicing non-judgement. By spending time with me. By respecting my boundaries.
All of that is earned over time through relationship.
If you’re not in the arena getting your butt kicked too, I’m not interested in your feedback. -Brene’ Brown
Most of the people we interact with on social media have not earned that right.
And this goes for my Christian friends too, maybe especially. I see it all the time someone posts something that another person might disagree with theologically and all of a sudden there’s an all-out battle on their Facebook page. Or all the open-letters to people we’ve? What are we hoping to accomplish?
We want to “speak truth in love” and stuff, right? Guys, let’s not. At least not like that.
We cannot use the Bible as a weapon to virtually thump someone on the head with that we don’t actually have a relationship with in real life.
That’s not the way of Jesus. He transformed lives because He got to know individuals. His disciples followed Him even to death because they trusted Him with everything.
Get to know your people. Get to know the families in your church, take that young mom out for coffee, listen to her heart and earn her trust. Get to know your neighbors. Invest in people. Then and only then should we even consider speaking “truth” (with love and with grace) into their lives.
If there’s no pre-existing relationship we can’t really expect to influence.
When faced with the opportunity to speak into a person’s life let’s consider the following questions:
- Have I earned the right to speak into this person’s life?
- What do I hope to accomplish/ what outcome am I expecting by sharing this feedback?
- Can I provide feedback without shaming or blaming this person?
- Am I willing to engage in conversation, ask questions and seek to understand this person’s perspective better?
And let’s also remember to seek out truthful feedback from trustworthy sources first.
What are some things you consider helpful when giving or receiving feedback? Let me know in the comments.