Sunday, September 2, 2012


"I speak in absolutes, though I don't think in them." (said by someone smart, sometime. got it off Garth Hill's Facebook page ... he is pretty smart, so maybe it was an original.)

I hate this, but it's exactly how I experience life. I have hardly any opinions that are all-or-none, but I sometimes struggle to say things in a succinct manner that also reflects the nuances of that opinion. For example, I am neither Democrat nor Republican (both parties are too extreme for me lately), but if I express an opinion that sounds more liberal or more conservative, I'm always worried that it will come across that I am dyed-in-the-wool one side or the other. Still, it's not like I want to give a treatise before the other person can respond. By succinctly expressing one element of my ideas on a subject, I don't want to welcome embracing or slamming comments from people who ARE dyed-in-the-wool, but I wouldn't mind a discussion with people who can be open-minded enough to try to understand both sides, even if they have chosen one of them.

Theoretically, it doesn't matter what people think of me. I am me, either way. However, as a public relations grad, I know full well that how people think of you does change the relationship you will have, even if it's only in small ways. And really, this can be really good. That principle usually gets a bad rap, but there's something to it. I am who I am, but because I am a mature adult (right?), I also know how to be tactful, polite, kind when I am in a bad mood, and in myriad other ways choose to control how I act in social situations instead of succumbing to every judgmental moment, irritation, or flash of pride. Understanding how others perceive you can be an important part of that ability.

However. If I want someone to be open to have a conversation with me on some topic or another later, I want them to know who it is they're actually talking to. I want them to understand that I've formed my opinions carefully, but that I welcome a good discussion and am usually fairly open to adjusting those opinions. That doesn't mean I'm a ball of clay waiting to be formed to your opinions, but I do want to hear what you think, and at the very least I usually want at least to understand where you're coming from.

But it can be so hard to get that across. Especially when we are just chatting for a few minutes. Like now, I suddenly realized that someone reading this is probably totally oriented to political opinions now - it might not have occurred to you that I could be talking about an offhand word in a class, a Facebook comment, or a small-talk conversation about hairstyles or food or a movie or the latest headline or baby-raising or how I pack my moving boxes. It's not book club where I usually have this issue, because any given topic might get an hour and a half.

Maybe I should pick up Twitter again.

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