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It is Possible to be Pro Something Without Being Anti Something Else

I am at a conference where people are in a constant state of trying to convince me of things, and I mean that in the most positive of ways. It is almost all good advice, and it’s floating around me, waiting for me to suck it up like a sponge. It ranges from the amorphous (speak up for yourself) to the concrete (pitch to periodicals like this).

There are two ways of presenting an idea, and I realized at the conference that only one way is palatable, at least, to me.

A person can be pro something without demeaning the other choices not taken. I can choose chocolate and simply say that it’s a flavour that works for me while still leaving room for you to choose vanilla without feeling as if I’m looking down at all other ice cream choices.

Or a person can take the weaker route and put down the competitive product or idea in order to try to grab strength for their own. I can choose chocolate while mocking vanilla as well as the people who choose vanilla. And now, if vanilla had been on your mind, you feel like shit, not focused on how maybe you should consider chocolate but rather how you feel about how I’ve spoken about vanilla.

I listened to both approaches yesterday. In one, a person gently led me towards her ideas, being respectful that in being very much pro her way of doing things that she wasn’t anti any other road not taken. And in another, a person shoved me towards ideas, carelessly alienating people who may have been open to the ideas, and they did this by being anti the roads not taken in order to be pro the single chosen option.

Just an observation that the message of the latter person was lost on me. The message of the former person not only got through but will likely be repeated to others.

It’s funny how that works.


1 Heather { 07.27.13 at 8:11 am }

Good point, Mel.

2 Tigger { 07.27.13 at 11:40 am }

This crops up everywhere, in all arenas of life. I’m glad to see you write this. It makes me feel better about being pro certain things but still not anti other things in an arena where the vocal minority says you can’t do that, it’s black and white. I used to think the world was black and white, and then I grew up and realized my mother was right: the world is all shades of grey.

3 Brid { 07.27.13 at 12:46 pm }

V. good point Mel. I also agree that those who might resort to a straw man argument realise that there are two sides to every story, even if they don’t want to admit to it… especially because they don’t want to admit it.

4 Kasey { 07.27.13 at 12:53 pm }

I’m the same way. Gently lead me towards your idea without demeaning mine and I will be more apt to not only listen but give your idea a go.

Demean my ideas and tell me it’s your way or the highway and even if your way may be better out of spite for demeaning my ideas I will avoid yours and take the harder route.

5 Kristin { 07.27.13 at 3:27 pm }

I am always more open to listening to pele when they are respectful of my point of view.

Well put, Mel!

6 Tiara { 07.27.13 at 10:42 pm }

I love this. Well said!

7 Battynurse { 07.28.13 at 12:09 pm }

Very good point and it applies to so many areas of life.

8 a { 07.28.13 at 10:33 pm }

I have seen the pro/anti thing crop up a lot recently. It seems that people now believe that theirs is the only way. I guess it’s probably always been that way, but it just seems more obvious lately.

I’m someone who tends to see multiple sides of arguments. So, to have someone else be so married to one way of doing things that it obliterates all other methods just leaves me speechless. And cold.

9 Sarang { 07.30.13 at 2:52 pm }

Exactly. So true.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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