Of all the people…

I had an old boss who was not only a great storyteller, he had funny lines to give little digs that sounded nice at first. He would do this to avoid saying something overtly negative, but get his point across. A good example is as follows, “of all the people in the world, he certainly is one of them.”

Another example is “he was talking about you, so I started to defend you, but recognized he was making some good points.” This one is more teasing of a friend than it is getting in a dig, but it can be used for either.

In my previous post, I spoke of civilly offering your differing opinion in the manner in which you would like to receive such. That is a goal, but sometimes we are dealing with insufferable people who, in short, think only their opinions have merit and you are stupid not to believe as they do.

Try as we may to offer our counter opinion, it is not heard. much less heeded. Often the purveyor will double down calling out more names or labels. As I have said many times, I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, but offer valid points and not labels.

This weekend, a blogger who is a consistent name caller followed his modus operandi on another blog. He started with an insulting label and comment denigrating the blogger and ended with more slams, even adding that intelligent people agree with his point implying that if you do not, then you are obviously not intelligent.

He actually did a disservice to his main argument, which was reasonably stated, even though I mostly did not agree with it. Yet, by bookending it with snarky comments and labels, his reasonable discourse was overshadowed. Plus, by being consistent in his labeling and snarky comments, he has earned a reputation that does a disservice to what he has to say.

So, I responded to his point where he said intelligent people agreed with him, by saying I guess I am stupid and shared why I disagreed with his point citing others who felt the same. I do not like to be flippant like this as it is not representative of how I want to receive feedback, so I apologized later for my tone, but not my point. Yet, that does not condone his tone or denigrating of a blogger who does her homework.

I do my best to stay informed using reliable news sources. I try to support my opinions with corroborating data or citing leaders or experts who feel likewise. Yet, at the end of the day, my opinions remain such, no more, no less. I will do my best to not call someone’s opinion stupid, but my and other opinions deserve similar respect.

Or, as another boss once said, “I am not going to pee down someone’s leg, but he should not pee down mine.” I just need to practice what I preach by giving feedback like a want it and not smelling like urine.



36 thoughts on “Of all the people…

  1. I find that staying quiet offers my best reply when someone is being ‘passive aggressive’ or trying to be cute or says something in distaste or is itching for a verbal encounter… especially if it is with me they are provoking with their words. if it gets too uncomfortable, i smile and try to excuse myself while not acting like i am judging – just making it clear that i choose not to reply…… if i don’t, oh my, that green-eyed monster comes out of hibernation, and i am often remorseful later and wonder why i allowed that person to have such power over me.

    if others are talking about someone who is absent, i try to excuse myself immediately – if they fumble and apologize, i point out that we all have weaknesses, and it’s not my place to judge that person…

    sometimes a retort can be helpful, but most times, for me, it backfires and causes more misunderstandings…. if the criticism is about someone or something i know a lot about, i try to choose my reply wisely, especially if they are not aware of the details. timing is important; it can be very delicate, when to speak up, and when to stay quiet. i’ve had good intentions backfire, which made the problem worse by speaking up….

    it is heartwarming, however, when someone steps forward and defends another, especially when one’s heart is in the right place or the homework is sound….

    you’ve been through a lot this past month/months, and you would never deliberately say anything hurtful to another person.

    I hope that 2017 is a good year for you, your family and all of our WP family.

    • Lisa, many thanks. You show wisdom and tact. Often, it is better to find a way to exit a conversation. I have a relative who tries to bait me with comments and I just don’t bite. He likes to argue and raises his voice to shouting. So, to be heard, I have to raise mine. Around him is the only time I yell, so I would rather not bother. He doesn’t believe me when I use facts, so it is hard to argue with him.

      On this instance, I should have used the precursor “Help me understand..” What I said was not bad and I put the onus on me, but still I wish I had chosen a higher road. Here is to making 2017 a better year. It will be challenge for us all, especially the environment.

      Take care, Keith

      • Several months ago someone sort of backed me into a corner, and I did not exit gracefully… We learn from those moments, however..

        i also have a friend who enjoys baiting others,a nd it’s obvious it’s his ego and his pride of his education to the tenth power, yet the book sense came with the lack of sensitivity.. he doesn’t understand why i back out, and has said, ‘but i enjoy a good debate…’

        i just smile and try not to retort with, ‘well i don’t,’ as he’s pulled me in anyway… many just don’t understand sensitive people because they don’t understand that even the slightest retort or challenge affects them greatly….

        once i was in another room when i overheard two people i barely knew that had a mutual friend cornered.. they were trying to force her into doing something she did not want to do, and it involved a personal physical risk.. after about five minutes, i came out of my room and straight to defending her and her choices, and i shared my own reasons and said to back off…. she later said in private, ‘thank you so much for coming to my rescue.’

        there is a time to speak up, and if it’s not about ego, and it seems necessary, then it’s most likely the right thing to do…

      • LIsa, well done on taking up for the person. She will never forget that moment. We have so many without voices, they need someone to vouch for them or take their place at the table. Keith

  2. “I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, but offer valid points and not labels.” THANK YOU! Also, could you share some of the news sources you find credible? It’s so easy to just sit down and turn on the TV; perhaps you know some web-based sources that are good?

    • Do you go by Dawn? On TV news, I watch BBC World News America and PBS Newshour on a daily basis during the week. They consistently provide detailed news, often including subject matter experts who know what they are talking about and do it civilly. If I miss them, I might catch one of the nightly news, just to get headlines. I also listen to NPR when in my car, which is quite good

      Online I read The Guardian and Reuters and articles from various sources in a browser – I watch for the sources to make sure they are legitimate. Often The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Newsweek, etc. will be cited. My local newspaper, The Charlotte Observer, is a pretty good publication. I read it daily as it gives me the state and local news along with a little national and world. It also has a good mix of editorialists.

      • Thank you. Bob and I listen to NPR in the car or at home. We also like the PBS Newshour; he has introduced me to One News Now, and there are a few others. I even tried Al Jazeera until I learned it was owned by the royal family, which was a bit off-putting to my western mind. Thanks for the recommendations.

      • Thanks. I need to check out One News Now. I should have added although it is a comedy show, imbedded with John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight,” is some excellent news reporting, better than many national outlets. He has covered pay-day lending, supplemental drugs, court systems rigged against those in poverty, for-profit universities, etc.

  3. Hmmmm …. somehow this sounds familiar! 🙂 I think we all appreciate your level-headed and intelligent responses … I know I certainly do! I look forward to your posts and comments every day … thank you for your thoughts and posts, my friend! Looking forward to sharing ideas with you in the coming year … you have made me think many times over the past year!

    • Yes. We know who Keith is talking about! He deserves derision….he seems to be asking for a fight. But I would also note that attempts at cutting humor, like Keith’s old boss, can really hurt. It is passive aggressive and hides a deeper form of anger on the part of the “humorist.”

      • Hugh, thanks. This boss was pretty good at it. To your point, he could also be quite direct when the circumstances called for it. I recall a serial complainer asking him why he was not included on a memo. He took the memo and threw it away saying “because I did not want you to get it.” Then he went back to worl. He knew when to use the accelerator and when to tap the brakes.

      • I agree. I much prefer, if somebody has a problem with me or my work, that they come right out and say so. Otherwise I find myself ruminating, wondering what they meant by their comment, and eventually jump to the worst possible conclusion. Same holds true for personal relationships.

  4. Keith. You always keep a level head. I sometimes wonder how you do it! I prefer to keep quiet, like Lisa, but that is not always possible. I am not good at clever responses in a dog fight! Have a great year (if that is possible!!!)

    • Thanks Hugh. Like Lisa, I feel better about biting my tongue, on various occasions. A minister at my mother’s funeral was going on about our President-elect, so I just remained quiet as it was the not time or place.

  5. We all get caught up in communication that doesn’t really communicate 🙂
    I appreciate your list of fairly even-handed news sources. I have been looking in on Reuters online lately to let me know if I need to read the news, and I have been pretty happy with the results. Here’s to more civil discourse in 2017!

  6. Dear Keith,

    The use of civil discourse while discussing politics, religion, difficult subjects is why I enjoy listening to NPR on the radio. In particular I am going to be missing The Diane Rehm Show.

    I have a tendency to be direct, to the point that folks think twice about confronting me. But fortunately, this is a rare event. However, when people do stand up to me, I listen because I know it took courage and I am always grateful to where, I thank the person later.

    I think I know who you are discussing. The blogger was commenting a lot on a couple of my blogs. I continuously responded with a list of facts and sources.

    This same blogger did respond to a comment on Jill’s blog which I did not answer.

    Happy New Year, Gronda

    • Gronda, many thanks. What I respect greatly about you is you do your homework and make informed conclusions. People may disagree with a part or all of what you say, but they cannot ridicule your efforts and thought process. What I find offensive about namecallers and labelers, is they use these as shortcuts to others to just disregard what you say.

      It is both lazy and Machiavellian, as what they are typically hoping to accomplish is to dissuade others who are more lazy from taking the time to read what you say. It is not dissimilar to our President-elect who tells people to ignore the media, to distract them from asking questions about his inane, hurtful and untruthful remarks. If they read Politifacts, they would find out that he is not very truthful.

      Best wishes in 2017, my friend, Keith

      • Dear Keith,

        Thanks for your thoughts on this subject. I like reading different points of views because it adds to my knowledge and I do get it, that I do not have all the answers.

        Happy New Year, Gronda

    • Rob, thanks. I would amend your comment to say that bullies aren’t necessarily extreme passionates. They are people with fragile egos that must belittle others to raise themselves. They tend to be passionate about themselves moreso than issues.

      In my view, I would say there is a line between zealots and bullies in the context we are discussing. Is that a fair clarification? Keith

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