I assume that most people don’t want to offend anyone. Most people also prefer to avoid conflict. But is it actually possible never to offend anyone? And would it be a good thing?
Here a quote from the American TV series Ladies Man: “Now, political correctness is the idea that assumes that the worst thing we can do is offend somebody. Well, a lot of people were offended when Galileo suggested that the earth was revolving around the sun. A lot of people were offended by Picasso because in his portraits the eyes weren’t where they were supposed to be. A lot of people were offended by Rosa Parks when she wouldn’t sit in the back of an Alabama bus just because of the colour of her skin. You see, everybody’s offended by something.”
As we can see, sometimes there are very good reasons for taking the risk to offend: Truth, justice or simply the danger of betraying ourselves. Ask yourself the following questions: Do you refrain from giving your honest opinion because you fear it might offend? Do you avoid telling someone that you don’t share their opinion because you don’t want to enter into a conflict with them or fear their reactions? Do you tend to tell people only what they want to hear and cut out the things you fear might make you unpopular with them?
If your answer is ‘yes’ then you are in danger of losing your integrity. The dictionary defines ‘integrity’ as ‘the state of being whole and undivided’. If we think differently to what we say and do, we are no longer ‘whole’; we are split inside and this is a harmful state for ourselves and for our relationships with others. We bottle up our inner frustrations, become yes-sayers and our words lose their meaning.
It is probably time to shift our emphasis from the fear of offending someone towards the importance of cultivating integrity. Without losing our concern for others, let us speak our truth and behave in harmony with our values, even if this might create tension or conflict. If our motives are pure and our thoughts considered, and if we are willing to have a dialogue with those we disagree with, we would all become stronger and more authentic.
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