Staying neutral

I am entitled to my opinion.

Have you ever heard someone say that? How about this:

Its my opinion and we have freedom of speech in this country.

Guess what? Just because we have the right to speak, doesn’t mean we should lose the responsibility that comes with speaking. Sometimes the best thing we can do is remain neutral.

When it comes to speaking up in a relationship, there is a fine line between “being assertive” and “being aggressive.” Being assertive means you are sharing your feelings and opinions with someone, while establishing a set of boundaries as well. Being aggressive means you are attacking and provoking someone else’s boundaries. See the difference?

Everyone has the right to an opinion. It’s what makes us unique and sets us apart from everyone else. That’s part of being human. However, there are moments in our lives when sharing those opinions might not be the best thing to do. And in these cases, a sense of neutrality may be the better choice.

Remaining neutral means:

  • You don’t take a stand on everything you see or hear. Some things are better left alone. Take a moment before responding and see if a reply is really needed.
  • Understanding not everyone wants to hear your opinion, no matter how strong, right, factual, etc., it might be to you. Why? Simply put, it’s your opinion and it comes from your point of view, which is limited to your specific set of truths. It might feel like you’re doing someone a favor by sharing your opinion, but let me put it to you simply – you’re not.
  • Not speaking down to others or bullying them into submission. Remember—you do not have to agree on everything to be a happy couple. Disagreements and differences of opinion are a normal part of healthy relationships.
  • Knowing how to pick your battles. You recognize not everything is worth losing yourself in conflict. Before you start, consider where you might end up. If that hill isn’t worth charging up in the first place, then don’t go up it. Don’t pick a side. Remain neutral.

If you struggle with knowing when to speak and when to remain silent, here are some tips for remaining neutral in the middle of growing conflict:

  • Take a time out. Step away for a few moments to gather your thoughts and take a few breaths. That moment away can give you clarity and insight into your next steps.
  • Breathe deeply while listening to the other person speaking. This gives your brain the chance to process new information and de-escalate the message.
  • Truly listen to what the other person is saying. Listen with your head and your heart. Don’t just pretend to listen, fully engage your ears, your brain, and your heart. Reflect on what they’re saying to you before you continue defending your side. That shows empathy and understanding. When others know you’re seeing things from their point of view, they are much more likely to start seeing things from yours. That’s balance!

By learning how to stay neutral it is much easier to avoid unnecessary drama and conflict. That doesn’t mean you have to stay silent, just that you have to learn how to share your opinion in a way that is in inquiry instead of judgment.