This is a how-to-do-it article-a how to avoid getting hooked. At first glance, one might assume that this article is about fishing and therefore should be entitled: "How to Hook a Fish." For those of us that love fishing, there isn't anything better than feeling the nibble, setting the hook, and bringing a bass or walleye fighting all the way to the boat. Capturing the prey must evoke some primitive instinct within us as hunters. Returning to the shore with our catch must hearken back to the way our ancient forebears felt returning to the cave after successful foraging for food.

However, there isn't anything worse than having the tables turned on us. Although we aren't fish, you and I get hooked in our daily living by family members or co-workers. They troll through life as if fishing on a lake. This article contains advice to avoid getting hooked by them.

Roma Practical experience indicates that we get hooked as humans easier than the fish we try to hook out on the lake. Not long ago, I interviewed Roma, the co-host of the Don Wade and Roma Show on WLS-AM. From 5-9am, Don and Roma hold forth discussing news and current events. For those of you who listen to their program, you know that the discussion often gets quite heated. I wanted to know from Roma how she was able to deal with all the differing and often conflicting opinions for four hours every morning. She seems so placid-while the show often gets as stormy as Lake Michigan in a winter gale.

Roma's response was insightful: "People give you things all the time, but you don't have to accept their gifts-their opinions. You can ponder their opinions, but you don't have to accept or defend anything. It is only if you attach your ego to that opposing opinion that you get hooked. If you are just hearing it, you aren't obligated to accept it. However, if listeners get in there and gets my ego going, then I respond by verbally grabbing them by the collar and telling them what I think. It surprises people when I unload because it rarely happens. If my ego doesn't get hooked, then differing opinions don't bother me at all."

Roma tries not to get hooked by listeners' opinions. For her, the critical issue is to avoid the hook by not getting her ego involved. None of us are talk-radio hosts. However, we often find ourselves engaged in dialogue with those around us. Sometimes, these conversations can become heated and conflictual. We all know the feeling of hooking a fish, and we also know what it feels like when we are hooked by another person in an argument. However, we have the option to seize the bait or not to bite at all. It is our choice. Roma is right. We don't have to accept the gift-someone else's opinion. It is far more difficult to throw the hook and get free than it is to avoid the hook in the first place.

Here are several suggestions to avoid the discomfort of having someone hook you:

  1. Engage only in arguments you feel you must. Don't allow another angler to determine what is an important issue for you. Never turnover control to another.
  2. Don't allow your self-esteem to be determined by whether another person agrees with you or not. Who you are as a person determines your self-worth and not whether another agrees with you. Always remain the captain of your life.
  3. Agree to disagree. Neither you nor your protagonist has experienced life in an identical way. Therefore, the other will see life differently from the way you do. Allow for those differences by agreeing to disagree. This will help you avoid getting hooked.
  4. Remember the feeling of setting a hook in a fish or how you felt when someone did it to you. The feeling of helplessness and lack of control will help you avoid getting hooked by others.

Hooking a fish is a great experience. However, when the situation is switched, getting hooked is not fun. Take Roma's advice: "People give you things all the time, but you don't have to accept their gifts-their opinions...It is only if you attach your ego to that opposing opinion that you get hooked."

Check out the entire interview with Roma.