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How to care for your coworkers and yourself
without getting sucked into an argument

A lot of us have intense views about the war between Israel and Hamas. Many would declare that it’s no longer against Hamas, but against the innocent civilians of  Gaza. Others would insist they’re neither innocent nor civilian.


Even the word “war” has become contested. Is it self-defense? Genocide? Both?


Here’s the deal. You and I can't control what happens there. What we can control is how we treat people here, including at work. The Moral Courage Project would like to offer some tips:


  • Everybody’s capacity for professionalism is being tested. But keep in mind that "professional" doesn't mean detached. It means dignified — ensuring dignity not only for yourself, but also for those whose views diverge from yours.


  • What does it take to ensure mutual dignity? If you notice that a coworker is emotionally struggling over the war, let them know you care. Ask them how they're feeling. Then genuinely listen to their responses. Feelings aren't right or wrong. They just are. They don't have to be debated.


  • Suppose, after telling you how they feel, your coworker rattles off "facts" that simply aren't true from your perspective. Then what?

Then tell them that your own feelings are based on a different interpretation of the facts, but that you're not here to argue. You're here to let them know that you care about their wellbeing. That's it.


  • And if they persist in pushing their "facts"? You can say, "Just as I care about your wellbeing, I hope you care about mine. If you do, then please don't turn this into a competition.”


  • If they can't help themselves, get ready to leave. Before you exit, though, give them this language to reflect on:

I can see that your facts don't care about my feelings. But it's worth remembering that the reverse is also true: My feelings don't care about your facts. If you want to me to hear you, try making me feel like you care about me.


Bottom line: Debating is a win/lose game. It's war by other means. Terrific for tournaments; lousy for life. So if you’re tempted to turn the discussion into a debate, we have a final tip: Don’t. For your own wellbeing.

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