Sunday, February 05, 2023 | Rajab 13, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Kindness changes minds!

As the world becomes more digital, we all noticed how many people are arguing through social media. These misunderstandings and arguments, for some, eventually end in personal grudges. What is the use of arguing with someone who disagrees with you? You might want them to change their minds, but it’s easier said than done! Changing minds, especially changing beliefs that are strongly linked to people’s identity, for instance, is very difficult!


Hence, the way people tend to argue today especially online, makes things worse. Disagreements can feel like a war in which fighters dig trenches on either side of any topic and shoot their thoughts back and forth like grenades. So you wouldn’t blame anyone involved because they feel like they’re under fire and no one is likely to change their mind when they’re attacked!


However, even these kinds of battles may give everyone involved some satisfaction in the short term. He/she thinks they deserve it because he/she is right and they are bad! Neither camp indeed has any effect on the other. On the contrary, I firmly believe that if you want an opportunity to change minds or ideas, you need a new strategy: stop using your values as a weapon and start giving them as a gift.


Especially when people fail to live up to your moral values (or expressions of them), it is easy to conclude that they are immoral. Moreover, if you are too attached to your values, you may feel that this difference is a threat to your identity, leading you to attack, which will not convince anyone who disagrees with you. Aren’t you with me that if you insult someone in a disagreement, probably he will strengthen his position against you!


As such, solving this problem requires changing the way we see and present our values or ideas. What I mean here is that if we want any chance of persuasion, we must happily present it. Argument and intolerance is an ugly thing, it is designed for coercion and hatred. Whereas the style of a gift is something we think is useful to the recipient, who we hope will accept it voluntarily and do so with gratitude. This frankly requires that we present it with love, not with insults and hate. So there are steps for instance to make this easier: like bringing someone who is arguing with you into your circle to hear your views, as long as doing so does not invite offence. Also, do not always take rejection personally. Furthermore, I would think here that the most important step, especially when it comes to changing someone’s belief, is that listening is more powerful than speaking. Listening, of course, is a gift in itself and you might even say: If someone is verbally abusing you, the best course of action is not to engage at all.


In the end, if a person truly believes in himself and that he has much good for people, then he must not fall prey to the arrogance of perfect knowledge and must be willing to open up new and better ways to serve his purpose and the people around him. Many followers on social media share your opinions, but the generosity and openness of those around you is undoubtedly a greater opportunity to make people better and closer in the long run.


Dr. Yousuf Ali Al Mulla is a physician, a medical innovator and a writer.


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