"...........using the word "interesting" allows you to keep your distance, play around with ideas and concepts in your mind, agree or disagree........" eckhart tolle
While in Chicago this past week, I attended a diversity training required by the company I work for. During this diversity training, we were broken off in to groups and given mock situations to discuss - about how we would handle the situation if faced with it while involved in a work activity.
One of the mock situations we discussed involved us being at an event/hair show. One of our best clients (who we like and trust, and who likes and trusts us) mentions he went to see the play Rent, and expressed that he thought the gay people in the show were "disgusting."
To me, this seemed an easy situation. I would simply respond be saying "Hm. Interesting." Using the word "interesting" allows you to respond while keeping a distance from the comment/opinion made.
Apparently, I had the WRONG answer. According to the leaders of the diversity training, I should have asked the guy to not say things like that while in the presence of me or my company - because that does not match the culture of our company. Understandable. BUT the trainers of the diversity program wanted to hear from me and the rest of our group that a comment being made about gay people would offend me! Also, (speaking to a group of all women) they (diversity trainers) found it hard to believe that any person in that room would NOT be offended if someone made a snide remark about women. I would not have even been even slightly offended - and I have more gay friends than I do pairs of underwear! (I don't even think the boys would be offended by such a comment!!)
I can understand that most people would get offended when opinions such as these (even if they are not linked in any way, shape, or form to that opinion) are made.
Myself on the other hand can and will accept that everyone has an opinion and not everyone's opinion is the same as mine. If someone has the opinion that I am ugly, or dumb, or eat weird, or whatever, that does not affect me in any way. I am comfortable with who I am and what my beliefs and opinions are - so why allow another person's opinion to have an affect on me - let alone offend me??
Here is what I have to say to the company that facilitates diversity training. Some people (believe it or not) have become comfortable living in their own skin and facing any situation that the present moment may bring. There have been a variety of situations happen throughout my 26 years that have conditioned my comfort level of living in own skin, just being me, and living in the present (what happened in the past is so 2 seconds ago and i have yet to face the future.) While focusing on keeping my ego in check (thanks to Ekhart Tolle) I have learned to not allow my ego to be affected by other peoples ignorance. I have also let go of any ignorance that may have lived within my own ego. The statement "i'm offended" implies volition. Most people allow themselves to be at the mercy of that thought or statement and allow themselves to become this very thought - they ARE offended. MY thinking is slightly different - I may think "Wow he just said an offensive statement" -but I do not allow myself to become that. I just continue being me.
It is interesting that in a culture as diverse as ours is, how many people still do not accept an opinion for what it is and allow themselves to be affected by such uncertainty.
opinion: a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
Bikshu Sangharakshita, author of Essence of Zen, offers advice on how to transcend potentially limiting projections:
“Try to discover what it is you most dislike in others, what you most often criticize and condemn them for. A little elementary self-analysis may reveal that those qualities are hidden in the depths of your own mind and that in criticizing others in this way you are, in fact, unconsciously criticizing yourself.”