Be Yourself, But Don’t Disagree with Me

Posted on January 7, 2011

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Have you ever felt like that? Caught between two ideas. We’re supposed to remain our individual selves, dedicated to displaying individualistic and unique traits that aren’t copycat of others, all the while failing to disagree or belittle another person’s ideas when they’re so different from our own.

This confuses me. A lot.

*Roleplay*

Person A: I LOVE the Pirates of the Caribbean movies!

Now it’s time for Person B to respond. Person B’s personal opinion on the Pirates movies, however, does not determine what his response will be. Like most people, a response is expected after a statement is made. The statement Person A made was subjective. Therefore, Person A more than likely expects a subjective response versus some kind of exclamatory, “Wow, that’s great!” from Person B.

Person B either agrees or disagrees. He likes the POTC movies or he doesn’t. If he responds with A) Me too!, the two persons walk merrily on their way. But if he responds with B) No, I don’t like them at all, various scenarios could possibly play out. To keep the simplicity, we’ll let Person B respond with the latter:

Person B: Me too! (They walk merrily on their way.)

*Exit Roleplay*

In the roleplay, we know that only one of these ideas occurred: Person B did not disagree with Person A. But since we don’t know what’s going on in Person B’s head, it’s impossible to determine the surety of whether or not Person B actually likes the Pirates movies, or whether he was just agreeing with Person A’s statement.

As much as I’d like to assume that everyone is positively genuine in every word he or she utters, the universal truth is that people lie. And all the time. Not that this necessarily opens the door for me to always question people’s opinions and try to discover whether people’s words match their motives, intentions, body language, etc.

The Point You’ve All Been Waiting For

OK, here’s my point. We face two ideas that often contradict themselves:

1) Genuinely being yourself

2) Not offending others with your opinions

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that turned out badly because you disagreed on something petty? I have. And many times at that. But it’s just a disagreement? What’s the big deal?

We all seem to have this need for others to share our opinions from our point of view. OK, maybe not you. And maybe not that nasty person you met so many years ago who’s completely disagreeable. But if you consider the idea, you might come over to my side eventually. I am convinced that not only does everyone seek for people to understand them, but also for everyone (if not agree with them), at least to understand their point of view.

So meanwhile, while you’re trying to impress that girl you’re interested in by *pretending* to find everything she says is interesting, or you’re blindly agreeing with every word that comes out of your best friend’s mouth because you want to *feel* like you have so much in common, you’re really doing yourself and that other person a disservice. You’re bonding over ideas and bringing yourselves closer together on issues that you honestly don’t feel the same about. So when these topics appear in the future, you either opt out of your dishonest opinion, confusing the other person, or continue to agree that you feel a certain way when you don’t.

We all say we don’t care whether people agree with us or not. But how often do you completely disagree with someone when you have the opportunity?

And if you do disagree, how do you go about expressing it?

Maybe I’m just trying to decipher between being disagreeable, and handling a disagreement. You be the judge. Just, when you judge, be yourself. Ya know, and agree with me . . . if you really do.

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