Is Your Overreaction the Goal of Their Action?

When you find yourself subject to an action by an opponent with which you don’t agree, take some time to consider the motivation of the person taking the action. Examples of this are being forced to close your business, wear a mask, take a vaccine.

In these situations, ask yourself, is their goal to get you to overreact?

It is a well known tactic for an opponent to purposefully get people to overreact. Once that is accomplished, they use the overreaction to discredit their opponents, justify their position, and, more than likely, justify more egregious actions.

This can lead to another problem: silence. When an opponent is taking an action that gets you riled up, you may choose to be silent out of fear of overreacting.

These are two extremes of a spectrum and are equally damaging. If you overreact, you will lose credibility and increase the credibility of your opponent. If you remain silent, you encourage more and worse bad behavior.

So, when you feel like reacting, take a deep breath, count to 10, sleep on it, pray about it, discuss it with close friends. You have to come up with a strategy that works for you.

Personally, I like to do the following.

  • What is the truth? Not your truth and their truth, but the whole truth. Many times this requires me to ask questions and do research before responding. It is really a good idea to understand an opponents position so you can determine your best course of action.

  • My actions should be moral and demonstrate love for people. Notice that I said love for people, not love for the actions being taken.

  • Follow the rules. Each relationship has a set of rules or boundaries that define the relationship. Make sure you understand the rules and follow them.

  • Decide how to best use your influence. Officials in the Federal government don’t really care what I think or do. Officials in my local school board probably do; especially if I have well reasoned actions.

  • Finally, you have to act. You are probably not the person who motivates people with an extemporaneous “give me Liberty or give me death” speech. You may be the person that helps a handful of people to be well informed and to act effectively.

This topic was motivated by a short commentary by James Lindsay.