I'm not passing any judgment on any of the four reactions. In fact, a mixture of the four responses may be entirely appropriate in different situations with different people. One size does not fit all.
Throw into the mix the individual backgrounds of the folks who are involved, and you can really stir the pot. For example, one person might have grown up in a family where "spirited debates" were welcomed and encouraged. However, this type of interaction may seem extremely harsh to someone who grew up with more polite banter at the dinner table.
This reminds me of a phrase I learned several years ago: " 'Leave it to Beaver' left." It's meant to convey that the placid days of Ward, June, Wally and Beaver Cleaver in the long-running sitcom have gone by the wayside.
Speaking of Beaver Cleaver, I had the opportunity to meet the actor who played the character on TV. Jerry Mathers was in Charleston two weeks ago. He's now 62 years old (and has the same birthday as my mother and my business partner, Mark Polen). Mathers was here to speak about his personal challenges with diabetes, and how he turned his life around for the better. He also had the chance to elaborate on his former show, which he said is the longest-running sitcom on TV.
Back to the four responses. Here's my take. If you authentically agree with the stated position, no problem (unless it harms someone else).
If you choose to compete for the floor, it's a wild card. In a perfect world, the subject could be debated in a civil manner that would bring out points for both sides to thoughtfully consider.
More often, this type of communication can escalate to such a fever pitch that the people involved dig themselves in deeper and deeper in an effort to be "right." And a power struggle ensues.
The two responses that take the biggest toll on us, in my opinion, are Nos. 3 and 4. To blindly go along with the most dominant voice (who can often be a bully of sorts) or to stay silent (implying agreement) can wear you down after a while.
Like I said, we all pick our battles. Just tune into your feelings for a read on the situation. At times, it may be better to keep the peace. At other times you may need to stand up for your principles in order to be authentic. As Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be true."
And in terms of giving credit where credit is due, I'd like to thank the Charleston Area Medical Center and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America for bringing Jerry Mathers to Charleston, and The Manahan Group for coordinating the arrangements for the event.
Remember to be on the lookout for those teachable and learnable moments. They're all around us. And, when calculating your internal credit score, be sure to give yourself some credit -- and don't judge yourself so harshly. After all, the ability to change your score is within your grasp at all times.
On that note, we could all use June Cleaver's advice when she admonished her husband for being too critical of their son: "Ward, don't be so hard on The Beav."
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, an integrated marketing communications firm specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or e-mailed to livelifefu...@arnoldagency.com.