‘I would rather say nothing than to cause more trouble,’ the actor said in response to ABC canceling its top-rated hit sitcom over Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet
For better or worse, Dan still has Roseanne’s back.
John Goodman, asked to weigh in on his longtime co-star Roseanne Barr after her racist tweet this week prompted ABC to cancel their sitcom, stayed out of the fray.
“I would rather say nothing than to cause more trouble,” the actor said in footage obtained by Entertainment Tonight. Goodman added that he was doing fine; in response to a question about ABC reportedly suspending its Emmys For Your Consideration campaign for the just-aired 10th season of “Roseanne,” he shrugged and replied that he “wasn’t gonna get an Emmy anyway.”
Plenty of other prominent figures have taken the high road by declining to weigh in on controversy or avoiding public spats. For instance, former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, the subject of Barr’s bigoted tweet, simply said the incident constituted a “teaching moment.” After President Trump called Oprah Winfrey “very insecure” amid speculation over her possible presidential run, the talk-show queen brushed off the insult in an “Ellen DeGeneres Show” interview. “I don’t like giving negativity power, so I just thought, ‘What?’” she said.
Meanwhile, Melissa McCarthy told People last month how she handles abuse from internet trolls. “Weirdly, instead of getting mad at them, I always feel like, ‘Oh, I hope you meet someone soon that you can talk to, someone that really makes you laugh,’” she told the magazine. “I just root for that person to find a little joy.” And former FLOTUS Michelle Obama, in remarks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention that would become a rallying cry, declared that “When they go low, we go high.”
“We have choices to deal with the frustrations that are handed to us with anger, with frustration, with meanness — or we can treat those frustrations with a sense of calm; a sense of peace; a sense of zen; a sense of kindness; a sense of understanding,” etiquette expert Thomas P. Farley told Moneyish. “Those latter options … that’s what constitutes taking the high road.”
Here’s expert advice on how to go high — especially when it’s hard to show restraint:
Consider your role, if any, in the situation. “I assess myself first and ask: ‘What is my role, what is my part, and where do I come into play?’” etiquette expert Elaine Swann said. “And if whatever’s taking place is unwarranted and baseless, that’s when I decide that it is not worth my time.” Just before Swann spoke with Moneyish, she said, she learned that a professional contact had made a dismissive comment about her. (“Nobody even knows who Elaine Swann is.”) After recognizing she had always treated that person with “decency and respect,” Swann said, she shrugged it off. “I immediately decided, ‘OK, good luck to that person,’” she said. “I could jump up on a soapbox and run off my resume, but that is not good use of my time.”
Look at where the other person is coming from. If someone is just looking to tear you down, writer and career coach Kathy Caprino said, no good will likely come of engaging in a discussion. “If someone says, ‘I really disagree with you, and here’s why,’ and they seem open to having a dialogue,” she said, “I will respectfully engage.”
Remember that it’s not all about you. “You don’t know what kind of a day that other person has been having. Maybe they’ve just been dealt some horrible news, and the reason that they’re crabby with you is because of what they were dealing with that morning,” Farley said. “It’s important as a human being to show empathy.”
Ask whether this is a one-time or recurring event. “We have to realize that all of us have ‘off’ days,” Farley said. “Don’t be too critical of one person for slipping one time — I think we need to be far more understanding than that.” If it is a recurring problem — say a boss who constantly disrespects you, or a sibling who’s frequently critical of your weight — you’ve got downtime in between those interactions to think about how best to deal with them. And you should deal with an ongoing problem: After all, “taking the high road doesn’t mean suffering in silence,” Farley said. “It means speaking up for yourself, but in a calm manner that explains how these comments are making you feel.”
Ask whether this person actually matters to you. “If the answer to that question is no, then why are you wasting your time?” Farley said. “It takes so much more energy, and you’re raising your cortisone levels needlessly for someone who has no bearing on your life.”
Speak to the person privately, not publicly. “John Goodman, I imagine, has had conversations with Roseanne privately,” Farley said. “If that is truly the case, I think, good for him. He’s handling it the right way … If you really have concerns, if somebody’s acting in a way you think is not appropriate, don’t shame them publicly.” With that said, Caprino argues that Goodman “bypassed an opportunity to do good” by denouncing Barr’s comments without necessarily badmouthing her.
Steer clear of words like “frankly,” “unfortunately” and “I hate to tell you, but …,” said Farley, which can fuel conflict and raise people’s defenses. Don’t use “slap-down” words like “stupid” and “ignorant,” Caprino added, or absolutes like “never” and “always.” Divisive language like “People like you are …,” “all Democrats are …” or “all Republicans are …” is also counterproductive, she said.
Focus on language like “I appreciate,” and “I understand,” said Farley, who also suggested swapping in the word “and” for the word “but.” (“I hear what you’re saying, but …” versus “I hear what you’re saying, and …” will yield completely different outcomes, he said.) “Anything that can show that you’re actually hearing what the person is intending, I think, helps,” Caprino said.
And stick with “I” and “me” statements, Swann added. “That’s what I like about the way John Goodman handled it,” she said. “He kept the attention and the focus on himself … as opposed to speaking about the other individual.”
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved