Picking Battles

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Aligned with some of the thinking in a previous blog called Don’t Engage (https://smartersooner.com/2016/06/03/dont-engage/), this blog suggests a very important strategy when dealing with conflict among friends, family and significant others. It’s called “Picking your Battles” and the name conveys it all. Picking your Battles simply means that one should carefully think about which ‘conflicts’ are worth arguing.  In other words, if you subscribe to ‘picking your battles’, you’ll only argue, challenge or otherwise ‘dig in’ when it’s a truly important matter. At first glance (in the heat of the moment) lots of things may seem substantial enough to justify arguing, but if you wait a few minutes and really consider it, you’ll often realize that it’s just smarter to keep quiet and move on. There are lots of reasons to be conscious of this. First and foremost, people who argue about ‘every little detail’ (or always have something to say) are annoying and taken less seriously. These people can aggravate their friends and family, and waste a lot energy in the process. Conversely, people who are very selective about their arguments and statements, are much more likely to be acknowledged when they do, in fact, make an argument or have something to day. The Smarter Sooner strategy is obvious here!

In the normal course of a relationship with friends, family and significant others, we can all find lots of things that we don’t necessarily agree with or otherwise have varying opinions about. These can be big and little things. If you made a point to correct or argue each and every issue, it would be quite tiresome and likely a waste of time. So many things will transpire in the exact same manner whether you choose to say something about it or not. On the other hand, if you’re generally more tolerant and only speak up when absolutely necessary, your words will have much more impact.  Remember, you’re not put on this earth to police people.

My brother-in-law talked about this a long time ago in relation to his marriage to my sister. I’ve not forgotten it and witnessed his behavior accordingly on a number of occasions. At the beginning of his marriage to my sister, he very frankly said, “I pick my battles because it’s definitely not worth arguing about everything.” That resonated with me and later occurred me to me as being VERY mature (he was being Smarter Sooner!). Finding it a waste of time and energy (and generally unnecessary) to have something to say all the time, he carefully picks his battles. When something TRULY is upsetting to him, he brings it up and my sister is much more likely to listen. My sister has a strong personality and my brother-in-law reads the room well. We all have our threshold for being instructed, ‘barked at’, etc. Think how this applies in so many different circumstances, including in the car when somebody is backseat driving. Backseat driving only really gets annoying when that person has something to say ALL THE TIME even when it’s really unnecessary. When the ‘back seat driver’ is being selective, he’s not annoying and his commentary is likely well-received.

The person who is SmarterSooner is thoughtful about how much or little he engages in arguments, instructing others, etc. Less is definitely more in these circumstances. Try taking a deep breath and being quiet next time you feel compelled to ‘say something’. I guarantee it will be soothing to just observe without saying anything.