note to self

Criticism is very useful, but like a sharp knife or delicate glass, it must be handled with care.

One of the things I do best is discuss with people topics other are afraid to broach. The benefits from talking about sensitive issues openly are twofold. First is that it has the potential to create more meaningful human relationships. There is a very interesting trust that develops when one reveals their insecurities to another. The second is that it has the potential to liberate the person from the shame/fear/worry that is typically associated with closely guarded feelings.

Interestingly (at least when I think about the variance in my own behaviors) if I am talking about things that I know are sensitive to others, I can actually be quite delicate and thoughtful with my words. However, if I am talking about things like business or politics or general societal problems that are out of my control I have a tendency to steam roll people - the verbal equivalent of nailing a thumb tack with sledge hammer. It is particularly useful if my sole goal is to win an argument, but if I hoped for anything beyond that I certainly fall flat. It ends up isolating people, shutting down conversation, and keeping whatever idea I hope to advance from taking root (because no one wants to be associated with the ideas of an asshole). Most of it probably has to do with the fact that I tend to criticize the person for holding such beliefs (which tends to evoke a defensive response) rather than talking about the merits of a given position.

I think a good bit of it has to do with the fact that this is simply how my dad and I talk to each other. It is a form of verbal playfulness, and I have always had people in my life who understood this and could go along perfectly happily. However, they are rarities. If I hope to ever reach out to a wider audience I am going to have to soften my tone. I am going to try to focus on this in my conversations with others.