You’ll Never Change My Opinion by Insulting It

It sucks to even have to write about this, but believe it or not, there are people out there who think this actually works. Either that, or they are just cluelessly careless. (Or should that be carelessly clueless?)

Anyway, case in point: A couple of weeks ago I was sitting with another mom at our kids’ basketball camp, talking about the reality show The Bachelorette. We were gabbing about how one of the guys on the show (Jef, with one ‘f’) had really started to grow on us because of how sweet, respectful, deep, and witty he seems.

Suddenly a mom next to us (whom I don’t even know other than I’ve seen her at other kids’ events) pipes in: “Are you kidding me? He’s such a loser. I can’t stand him. I can’t believe he made it this far. She [the bachelorette] would be stupid to pick him.”

[Insert scratching record sound.]

OMG WTF, really?

Good grief, yes, she went on and on about how awful Jef was – after my friend and I had just gushed about him. Which of course makes it sorta personal, no?

The other mom and I didn’t really know what to say in the face of such scorn so we just let the conversation drift into safer waters. Clueless Mom didn’t even seem to notice the highly awkward pause after her outburst.

Afterwards, I wondered if I should have said something like, “good for you, you have an opinion, now go trot it elsewhere,” but of course that type of behavior would have been just as rude as hers.

So instead I’m blabbing about her douche-y behavior here so we can learn from her mistake. LOL

Oh yeah, and the Bachelorette ultimately picked Jef. BOO YAH! (Wish I could’ve been a fly on the wall in Clueless Mom’s living room as she watched that. She probably had an apoplexy.)

Anyway, the whole situation reminded me to be respectful of other people’s opinions – even when I totally disagree. If you dive into a conversation confrontationally, how the hell are you ever going to ease past people’s defenses enough to open their minds to your position?

As I’m fond of saying, I have an opinion, but I’m willing to be talked out of it. However, this is not the way to make that happen.

So what do you think? Has this ever happened to you? How did you respond? On the flip side, do you enjoy getting confrontational with others because you view it as a game? (I have an extended family member who does this.)

Comments

  1. dehelen says:

    I have this sinking feeling that I may have done this butting in with my own opinion in a public place more than once. Why? I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like me. But I have this feeling … Sometimes a person can feel so strongly about something she just can’t keep it in, and before you know it she has blurted out her rude opinion or advice or feeling or who knows what so inappropriately, so cluelessly and carelessly … If I ever did this to anyone reading this, I am so sorry. If you did it to me, I hereby forgive you on the spot. We are all jerks sometimes. We get caught up in our own thoughts and forget about how our words affect others. And we should never do that. Words shape our world.

    • You know, you’re absolutely right, Sandra. Well said. We’re definitely *all* guilty of this on some level. I guess what set me off in this instance was that Clueless Mom really wasn’t part of our conversation to begin with. But then, I’ve probably done that same thing before too. Overall, the situation was an excellent reminder (for me anyway) to temper my initial reaction to blurt out my opinion where it is uninvited and, when it is welcomed, to express said opinion in a way that is respectful of dissenting ideas. :)

  2. I’m an author/editor by night and a receptionist by day. The company I work for is a family-owned place, which means it comes with its fair share of baggage. My BFF/manager/owner’s daughter is socially liberal, whereas her mother is incredibly not. So yes, there are debates that spark, and since I am also socially liberal, sometimes I open my fat mouth and get into them.

    The way her mother debates is to try and make me and her daughter feel stupid for believing what we do. I have attempted to swear off getting in these spats, because when one person is arguing from a place of mutual respect and another person is arguing from a place of only self-respect, there can be no common ground. Not even a “I respect your opinion, even if I do not share it.”

    Most people who engage in these debates are unpracticed. I actually frequent a website where debating is encouraged in one particular realm, which has structured the way I enter disagreements or debates a great deal over the past couple years. You’re right: insults will never change one’s mind. Neither will ad hominem attacks (“you’re stupid,” etc).

    The funny thing is, the same woman I mentioned above can’t seem to understand where her opinion ends and one’s regard for her begins. Say I am arguing against DoMA and she is arguing for it; she thinks whatever I say against DoMA is a personal attack, when it’s really just my opinion on equal rights. I might think her opinion is wrong, but I don’t think she is wrong for having an opinion. Some people can’t tell the difference.

    • “[she] can’t seem to understand where her opinion ends and one’s regard for her begins”

      OMG – you hit the nail on the proverbial head here. Yes, yes, yes. So many people can’t separate the two. Everything is personal to them. Gosh that would be a tough way to live. This reminds me of that famous married couple (I forget their names) – where one worked for the Democratic Presidential candidate while the other worked for the Republicans. Now there is the opposite extreme, right?

      Very thoughtful reply, Rosalie. I find it fascinating that you are BFF with someone with such polar opposite beliefs as you. How do you two make it work when she takes every ideological disagreement so personally?

      • Yikes! I wasn’t clear. My BFF and I have the same school of thought, more or less. The BFF’s mom is the one who’s polar opposite. And she often comes in wanting to start something, which doesn’t make things easier.

        I do have very close friends (and family) who vehemently disagree with issues, social or otherwise, I find important. With friendships, the key, in my experience, is finding a delicate balance. I used to work with a woman who was my ideological opposite, but we enjoyed and encouraged debating because it not only educated us on the other person’s POV, it kept us honest. If someone brings up a legitimate argument that I have never before considered, it might well change my opinion. If I believe X because of something I heard from so-and-so and later discover so-and-so was discredited, wrong, or I remembered it incorrectly, I am forced to reevaluate my own stance. To me, this is the power of debate, and one of the reasons I encourage it. When we take the time to understand why we feel the way we do, and more over, why others feel the way they do, it helps us both empathize and strengthen our relationships while not budging on those issues we find most important.

        On the other hand, people who insert themselves into others’ conversations with nothing but negativity to bring to the table haven’t learned to separate themselves from the equation. Everyone’s opinion is valid at face-value. That value can increase or decrease with how the opinion is supported, presented, and defended.

        • Ah, I see. :) I’m totally with you in terms of wanting to keep my mind open to other ideas I hadn’t previously considered. It’s great to have an opinion on something, but there is always more to learn. I love your big mind! :)

  3. Thought the same thing when she picked Jef!!!!!!!!!!! How can you not love him? I dreamt about him all night? It’s like you went into my brain that day and read my mind. Great post. “Insulting me is not the way to change my mind.” Brilliant!

    • Giiirl, I know, right? Jef certainly wasn’t really on my radar that first show, but wow, he gradually made up for it. Do you suppose we become losers too when we pick someone who’s a loser? (Insert eyeroll here). LOL. I would’ve liked to see the looks on our faces when Careless Mom had her outburst. :D

  4. charitykountz says:

    For someone who considers herself as graceless in social situations as an elephant in a china cabinet, it took me almost 15 years to learn what you shared in one blog post. Sometimes it’s not carelessly clueless, it’s that we weren’t taught any better (or in my case at all) ways to share our opinion when we feel strongly about something. To the other mom she may have thought she was engaging you in a debate – maybe that’s how they discussed things around the kitchen table in her childhood. The best response, in my opinion, would have been to gently correct her. What she did with it from that point is up to her. I don’t know about you but a little tolerance and understanding goes a long way with me when I stick my big foot in my mouth. :) Interesting post.

    • Thanks for your perspective, Charity. You know, in terms of this type of exchange, I never really considered that whole “this is how we do it at our house” vantage point. I guess I was just so taken aback because it almost seemed like an attack that I had a hard time seeing it from her eyes. I have no idea how I would gently correct someone like that. I would feel rude doing it!! lol

      What your response has done for me, though, is open my eyes to yet another perspective (don’t you love that about blogging?!)…one that reminds me not to take other people’s behavior personally, because their behavior isn’t a reflection of me but of their backgrounds and experiences. I can totally appreciate that, so thank you for taking the time to share, girl!

      • charitykountz says:

        My pleasure Misty and I’m glad you took the information to be helpful rather than critical. It sometimes amazes me that people think I’m judgmental when I’m the opposite – I try my utmost to be tolerant of everyone’s differences. Thanks for responding! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  5. Okay, I still miss Sean, but that’s beside the point. You’re right, Misty, stating your point without disrespecting someone else’s point of view is important. If you want to have a give and take, each party must feel safe to share their opinion. And my opinion is that One-F Jef should buy a consonant for his name. ;)

  6. What a brilliant post you created Misty! I know I’ve learned something I can apply not only to myself, but to my characters. Gotta love that.

  7. My late father used to say that opinions were like butts. Everyone has one, but that didn’t mean you should show it in public. ; – )

  8. Mary Roya says:

    Great Scott! I find it strange that so many people will watch these reality shows where the winner cheats, lies and just out and out a mean person. But since I don’t watch the show I can’t comment. After all 1) no ghosts, 2) no vamphires and 3) no naked guy in a dumpster; my BFFs Mabel, Sissy and I only like to watch certain things. tee hee!

  9. Josie Matthews says:

    Hey gang! Just got back from my little honeymoon with Mr. M…our first vaca alone together since…well…its out first! Had a ton of fun in VA. beach, but did miss you all!
    Great post Misty! Opinions are …. welll they are just that… opinions…relative to one’s owner. I do know several people who feel their opinion is always RIGHT. If you disagree with them, well…your just an ass. Nice huh? Those are people I try to limit my time with…its just way too much work and way too much stress to have them be part of my life. I tend to LOVE different opinions…I love to be swayed by them, coddled by them…shocked by them….but most of all I love to learn from them. I could NEVER be a politician…I enjoy listening and very easily swayed. Im only opinionated I think, in a few topics. But Im always willing to listen. To those who think your opinion is ‘Da Bomb’? Good luck witht that and be carefully of that little bubble you’re livin’ in…it might just pop one day!

    Love you Mist! J

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