To agree without understanding is inane. To disagree without understanding is impudent.”– Mortimer Adler
I had requests for help about the topic and I am listening. Here is my contribution to offer some guidelines on how to handle the conversations without breaking down relationships.
With Covid-19 vaccinations well underway — with some people already vaccinated, some eagerly waiting their turn, some experiencing “vaccination hesitancy,” and others refusing to ever take the vaccine —you might find yourself in a position where you have one view and a loved one has a completely different view.
You see more benefits in being vaccinated, and your loved one sees more drawbacks.
See, two people with the same information can end up making two completely different decisions.
That is the beauty of autonomy and choice.
When our decisions have the potential to impact others, there is pressure to make the “right” decision.
But the “right” decision can mean different things to different people.
Being vaccinated may be the “right” decision — to you.
But staying clear of the vaccine may be the “right” decision — to your loved one.
So, how do you address differing opinions without tramping on your loved one’s toes?
Here are six tips that can help:
1. Connect with the other person’s values
Allow the other person to feel heard. Let them know you can see where they are coming from and why they may have taken a particular viewpoint regarding the vaccine.
2. Speak from a place of empathy, respect, and understanding
Acknowledge the other person’s concerns about the vaccine and ensure that they understand that any recommendations you make about the vaccine are only coming from a place of love and care for their wellbeing and that of those around them.
3. Refrain from lecturing and preaching
Be cautious about “preaching” to your loved ones about why they should take the vaccine or not. Entering the conversation where you wish to persuade someone to change their mind can lead to the person feeling as if their belief system is being attacked.
4. Ask loved ones if there is anything at all that would make them feel more confident in the vaccine.
Where possible, direct loved ones to trusted sources of information without forcing it upon them.
If they are open to it, you can let them know the reasons why you are opting to have the vaccine.
5. Know when to stop the conversation
When you or your loved one begin to get upset, it would be wise to stop the conversation.
Signs that you should end the conversation:
- Your loved one states that he/she doesn’t want to continue the conversation
- Your loved one’s temper begins to flare (voice rises, body language changes)
- The conversation becomes defensive or combative
6. Suggest drawing up a list of risks and benefits
Perhaps you could suggest working with your loved one to draw up a list of risks and benefits (pros and cons) of taking the vaccine.
Doing so, may help your loved one look at things a little differently, and indicate whether your loved one is acting from a place of fear and social pressure.
Remember, at the end of the day, your loved one is going to make a decision based on what he/she feels is “right” for him/her.
Ideally, that decision would be made after weighing the risks and benefits and speaking to a medical doctor where necessary.
However, it may be that your loved one is dead set against the vaccine regardless and isn’t open to discussing it further.
If you and your loved ones are struggling to reconcile differing opinions and would like further guidance, please reach out to me on email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or WhatsApp.
I understand how challenging this may be for you and would love to help you.
One thing is certain; we cannot allow conflicting ideas about the vaccine destroy precious relationships.
From my heart to yours,