Kevin O’Leary did what mainstream journalists and political pundits do best — he insulted his guest.
As Hedges explained:
“[I]f we don’t break the back of corporations we’re all finished anyway, since they’re rapidly trashing the ecosystem on which the human species depends for survival.”
“Listen, don’t take this the wrong way but you sound like a left-wing nutbar.”
Hedges replied with artful articulation, just the right amount of deflection, and unfettered focus on the facts.
The Hedges smack down of Kevin O’Leary
That’s because Hedges merely held his ground (and exposed where O’Leary went wrong) by doing five things extremely well (under such pressure and attack):
- Taking it personally (before getting over it)
- Hedges was offended by O’Leary’s remark, and it’s because he got so offended that he decided to continue speaking his mind on the interview, instead of descending into argument.
- If Hedges had tried to “brush it off,” he could have lost sight of his goal. Instead, he responded to the verbal attack by better channeling his efforts, and taking the time to highlight O’Leary’s decent into what he referred to as “character assassination.”
- It’s because O’Leary registered the attack that he could continue discussing his views. In other words, he stayed calm, because he followed his emotions. Emotional intelligence, after all, is about using your emotions (powerful tools at your disposal) to leverage intelligent decisions.
- Hedges eloquently expressed his views because of how emotionally invested he was in the topic. It looked as if he juiced the insult to get even more in touch with his passion: “[T]hose who are protesting the rise of the corporate state are in fact, on the political spectrum, the true conservatives, because they’re calling for the restoration of the rule of law. The radicals have seized power and they have trashed all regulations and legal impediments to a corporate — a reconfiguration of American society into a form of neo-feudalism.”
- When Hedges confronted O’Leary for insulting him, O’Leary (to change the topic) asked if Hedges was at least left-wing. Hedges responded no, and O’Leary interrupted him, asking if he was then centrist. Instead of biting an interruption-disguised-as-a-question, Hedges held a boundary: “Can I finish?” It meant: “I won’t expend effort attempting to answer your question if you interrupt me again.”
- In his final statement, Hedges said that it would be the last time he would go on the show. He set the ultimate boundary of not wasting time on such an interviewer with a clearly belligerent agenda.
Back to you
You can learn a lot from Hedges, beyond the realm of political “debate.”
Anytime someone insults or indirectly to censors you, you can follow Hedges’ example, or following these four steps.
1. Take it personally
No really, take it personally. Because you have to take it personally before you can get over it. You can’t just say to yourself, “I’m not gonna take this personally.” Your emotions don’t lie, and you can only suppress them for so long.
Taking it personally means that you care about whatever topic, stake, or relationship is at hand. And the only way to do your part to improve a situation is to, first of all, care.
2. Keep sight of your goal and stay on topic
If you lose sight of your goal, your adversary wins. Make it a winning situation for you. Find a way to use your emotions as powerful mobilizers to stay focused on your purpose.
If you express yourself, stay on topic. That’s the way, after all, to keep sight of your goal. The reason you got insulted was that you spoke on topic — perhaps a topic hard for the attacker to talk (read: not argue) about. Don’t let the insult veer you off course. Make it a reason to stay even more on course.
Or, decide that you don’t want to continue engaging with someone who may only be interested in bringing you down to their level. In that case, change the topic or leave it. Walking away from unnecessary battles is a form of self-respect.
3. Express your view with passion
If you do decide to continue expressing yourself to someone who’s descended to character assassination, do it with passion. Speak from your heart and make your views known. No one can successfully argue against opinion.
4. Hold your boundaries through self-respect
Which is what this is all about: self-respect. Even if someone doesn’t respect you enough to discuss issues rather than bash your character — that should have no bearing on how you treat yourself.
For instance, continuing to argue or defending yourself unnecessarily sends a message that you don’t value your time and opinion (enough to disengage). You can only take so much time in one lifetime. Do you respect it?
Back to the smack down
During the interview with Hedges, the title bar on the TV screen read: “Occupy Wall St. Goes Main St.”
In my view, it’s conspiracy theory going mainstream, because talking publicly about conspiracies isn’t “just for nutbars.”
Expect to see more social media highlighting exchanges such as the shut down of Kevin O’Leary.
Media’s shifting, as “news” sheds it’s own monopolization of the shaping of social norms.
What do you think?
About how Hedges responded to O’Leary, how you respond to your own O’Leary’s, insults sanctioned by “news,” Occupy Wall Street, or anything else on the topic at hand?
Feel free to share your thoughts below.