Author Topic: People who assume your agreement?  (Read 3018 times)

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JeseC

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People who assume your agreement?
« on: March 23, 2013, 01:57:17 PM »
So I have a situation that comes up particularly with family but also with old friend sometimes.  Someone starts holding forth on <controversial topic X>.  Now, they happen to believe A about the topic, and assume that everyone else in the room believes A as well.  I happen to believe B.  So I might be hearing something like "Isn't it terrible that some people think B?  Can you believe that?  Everyone with any sense knows that A!"

I'm not sure how to respond.  In some cases the person seems to merely want me to listen, in other cases they seem to be pushing for me to agree with them.  It doesn't help that in at least some of these situations I used to believe A.  I'm just not sure how to answer them.  I'm uncomfortable sitting back when someone goes on about how bad/stupid/evil people who believe the way I do are, but I don't want to be rude.  And then there's the cases where someone's attempting to involve me in the discussion...

jpcher

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2013, 03:53:54 PM »
So I have a situation that comes up particularly with family but also with old friend sometimes.  Someone starts holding forth on <controversial topic X>.  Now, they happen to believe A about the topic, and assume that everyone else in the room believes A as well.  I happen to believe B.  So I might be hearing something like "Isn't it terrible that some people think B?  Can you believe that?  Everyone with any sense knows that A!"

I'm not sure how to respond.  In some cases the person seems to merely want me to listen, in other cases they seem to be pushing for me to agree with them.  It doesn't help that in at least some of these situations I used to believe A.  I'm just not sure how to answer them.  I'm uncomfortable sitting back when someone goes on about how bad/stupid/evil people who believe the way I do are, but I don't want to be rude.  And then there's the cases where someone's attempting to involve me in the discussion...

Depending on how strongly you believe in "B" I think that you should bring your beliefs up in the conversation instead of being a passive "B" believer.

Especially when "B" is being insulted.

I honestly don't think that I would be able to sit back and listen to insults about my beliefs. (Be it politics, insurance, taxes, religion, work policies, whatever.)



Either speak up, have a lively debate, or bean-dip.




(eta: The only reason people assume you're in agreement is because you don't say anything to the contrary. So you really can't assume that they are rude against you, personally.)
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 03:58:33 PM by jpcher »

Hmmmmm

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2013, 04:15:36 PM »
If it's just the two of you or a small group,  I'll most likely state I have a different opinion. However if a large group and I think saying anything could create a scene with them wanting to get into a debate, I'll ignore the comments or try to remove myself from the conversation. I don't want to create discomfort for others.

I dont value the opinions of someone who makes comments like "anyone with any sense knows A". My impression of them is that they know very little of the topic or are severly narrow minded and I don't want to waste my time debating with them.

MommyPenguin

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2013, 04:21:15 PM »
When I used to work at the library, I diverged very strongly with some basic beliefs of a lot of people there, some of whom were *very* activist and excited about what they believed and very negative/insulting to anyone who believed otherwise.  But for the most part?  I didn't have any chance of convincing them to believe me, nor did they have any chance of convincing me to believe them.  I had to work with these people every day.  So I didn't generally speak up, although I didn't agree with them either.  I might occasionally point out a small factual error, but I didn't want to end up in a workplace where people were constantly trying to win me to their side or got nasty towards me.  However, there were some people who were more receptive to other viewpoints, and when *they* were around, I was willing to get into honest conversation.  So I guess my opinion is that it can depend on the where and the whom, and whether you can end the discussion when you need a break or whether you will be stuck with it day in and day out, whether there's any chance of a reasonable debate or whether they will just shout you down and move on, and whether there's any real chance of somebody listening to what you're going to say (versus dismissing it without a thought).  I don't think it's dishonest to simply not want to enter into a conversation about a hot-button issue (politics, religion, etc.).

jpcher

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2013, 04:50:18 PM »
I didn't have any chance of convincing them to believe me, nor did they have any chance of convincing me to believe them.

I don't think that "convincing" people to believe what you believe, or them convincing you to believe what they believe is a cause to stop conversation.

I don't think that it's a who's right and who's wrong situation. Sometimes when I speak up for a belief that I have the conversation that ensues is quite enlightening. Other person has a say, then I either agree, disagree, may say that that is a valid point, but here is my take on the topic.

I think that all beliefs can be talked about in a considerate/learning manner rather than "Oh. You are sooo wrong. You are not on my side, hence you are stupid."

Lady Snowdon

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2013, 06:01:32 PM »
I have found, for the most part, that the people who make statements like, "Can you believe how terrible B is?  Why don't people know better?" often are the people who are personally offended if you don't believe A and are willing to engage in any tactic that they think will make you believe in A.  My father-in-law is one of these people.  He considers making me cry to be an indication that he's "won" somehow and therefore his arguments and attacks are vicious.  I don't voice a single word of dissent to anything he says anymore.  I don't agree with him, but I won't vocally disagree with him either.  It's just not worth it.   :( 

JeseC

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2013, 06:41:28 PM »
I have found, for the most part, that the people who make statements like, "Can you believe how terrible B is?  Why don't people know better?" often are the people who are personally offended if you don't believe A and are willing to engage in any tactic that they think will make you believe in A.  My father-in-law is one of these people.  He considers making me cry to be an indication that he's "won" somehow and therefore his arguments and attacks are vicious.  I don't voice a single word of dissent to anything he says anymore.  I don't agree with him, but I won't vocally disagree with him either.  It's just not worth it.   :(

It's almost always relatives, in my experience.  Sometimes people who are "friends of the family".  It doesn't help when they assume based off of your opinions 10 or 15 years ago, either, especially for those of us who are younger!

Softly Spoken

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2013, 09:51:03 PM »
Discussing a controversial issue is only possible with mutual respect. Saying an idea is stupid (which is a statement of opinion and not fact), is not the same as saying someone who believes in or agrees with said idea is stupid. Since the people you are dealing with have made a point of ranting about those who disagree with their viewpoint, I wouldn't have high hopes for a productive discussion with them.

If they are disparaging a group of people that you fall into, you get to decide whether you are comfortable basically sitting and listening to them (unknowingly) insult you. If you are, by all means keep silent. If you are not, you might say "What an interesting assumption." or perhaps if you are feeling more combative you might put them on the spot by directly saying "So if I understand you, anyone who thinks B about X is stupid. Do you think I'm stupid? Because I happen to think B about X." Unfortunately, depending on who you are talking to and their relationship with you, they may very well respond "Well, I guess you are [stupid if you really think B about X]!"

If you don't have any interest in getting into a debate or getting browbeaten for your opinions, then I don't think you are rude to say lightly but firmly "No actually I don't" when asked something like "Don't you think people who believe B are idiots?" It doesn't mean you agree with people who believe B, just that you don't feel like sitting and listening to your friends and family bash whatever group they disagree with. It doesn't sound like a fun way to pass the time. :( Of course if they are saying things like that, they are probably looking for a debate argument and will come back with "What? Why not? It's true! You don't believe B do you?"

So the question is: to engage or not engage. What will either accomplish? What will you get/how will you feel if you don't speak up? If you do? Do you want a debate? Do you just want them to stop talking about A opinion regarding <controversial topic X> like it's a forgone conclusion instead of their biased opinion? Do you want them to stop bashing others or shut up about <controversial topic X>?

IMHO, I don't think you should allow them to hold forth with such rude ranting if it is bothering you enough to ask about it on this forum. How exactly you handle engaging, or distancing, yourself regarding this issue will have to be your choice. If you do and say nothing, be prepared to have your boundaries crossed and the assumptions and onslaught of opinions continue.

Perhaps we need another tool besides a Shiny Spine - something like a Silicone Shirt(R) that everything just runs right off of. ;) (What else is nonstick/water proof? :P)
"... for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
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"We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't."  ~Frank A. Clark

Thipu1

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2013, 09:30:11 AM »
There's very little you can do with people who assume that everybody shares their beliefs.  That was the case in the library where I worked.  Nothing was neutral ground.  Tastes in vacations, books and television shows were a minefield.  when I mentioned watching the Tournament of Roses Parade, they got on my case.  They would NEVER watch anything so tacky.  Even the building where I lived was said to be 'racist and snooty'.  FTR, the building is a miniature United Nations. 

I was actually told that supporters of X political party were 'demonic'.  Mr. Thipu is a member of X party and they knew it.

I finally decided that, since even my lunch wasn't safe from comment (That stuff has high fructose corn syrup!  It kills everything it touches!) I'd just do my job and not engage in unnecessary conversation.  Putting on my Teflon jacket was the only way to survive. 

Of course, if I really had a Teflon jacket someone would be sure to point out that Teflon causes cancer.

Yarnspinner

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2013, 01:09:03 PM »
Thipu, your story cracked. me. up.   No matter where the library is or who is in charge, the assumption is that all librarians think and lean a certain way.   "You're an educated woman, right?  Don't you think it's ridiculous that people still believe biblical fairy tales?  WHAT???  But you're an educated woman!  How can you even think of praying or reading those fairy tales?"  (Which, in view of the post on another thread about Judges 19, I would suggest that they are as far off from fairy tales as Clive Cussler is from Danielle Steele.)

Or "I heard you talking about X candidate in a positive way.  You're an educated woman.  You should know that Candidate X is an evil man, and his party wants to build up this group to the detriment of that group.  You HAVE to agree with this because I KNOW you are like me!"

However, most of my coworkers and my contemporaries and I know not to engage in politics or religion discussions at all.  Our very YOUNG coworkers are a different story.  They all have that same brash idealism that completely squashes debate on a topic and so those of us who are twenty and thirty years older have simply assumed a "smile and nod" attitude.  IF they are feeling receptive, we might ask how they arrived at their opinions, why they choose that belief and so forth.  If we are on the opposite side of whatever their argument is, we might test their theories with more questions. 

Mostly, though, one smiles and nods. 

Library Dragon

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2013, 06:55:58 PM »
This can be trickier if it can cause professional problems.  I'm not allowed to endorse candidates and have to publicly walk a thin line.  Professional time cannot be construed as "lobbying."

I end up with a bleeding tongue sometimes from biting it.  When dedicated volunteer is talking about candidate A (whom I personally support) as the spawn of  >:D I have to put on my blank face and say, "That's an interesting premise."

There are times when I will pick a side issue of why I do or don't support an organization.  It will be that we can both agree on. 'I can't support the Dalmation Project in good faith since they chose Cruella d'Ville as their spokes person. I don't think she has the puppies best interest at heart.' I don't go into all the other problems I have with its mission, but have stated an opinion that doesn't attack the other person's beliefs.

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snappylt

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2013, 10:45:14 PM »
Reading your op made me think of a lunch conversation in a faculty room many many years ago when I was a young teacher.  Four of us were having lunch at the same table.  One of the others at the table started in about a controversial topic, and went on and on, practically ranting about it.  I kept my mouth shut. 

This was in a state where teachers do NOT earn tenure, do NOT have collective bargaining rights, and do NOT have real unions.  Our principal was a vocal member of a religious group with strong feelings about that particular controversial topic, and I simply felt that it was risky to voice my own opinion about the topic in the faculty room.  I was (and still am) a member of a different branch of the principal's religion, and I am pretty sure he and most other adults in the school just made the interesting assumption that I agreed with them.

Anyway, after the ranting teacher finished her rant, she and one of the others got up and left the room.  One last teacher and I were left alone at the table.  We looked at each other silently for a moment - I think the ranting had left us both speechless.  Finally I took a risk and said, "You know, I think it is very interesting that she [the ranting teacher who had left] just assumes that everyone who works here agrees with her opinion."  The remaining teacher got a big smile then and confided that she disagreed with that rant, but that she, too, was hesitant to state her opinion aloud, knowing that our principal disagreed so strongly.

bansidhe

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2013, 01:09:39 AM »
(eta: The only reason people assume you're in agreement is because you don't say anything to the contrary. So you really can't assume that they are rude against you, personally.)

In my personal experience, people who do what's being described in the OP often know full well that one or more people in the group don't agree with them. By pretending to assume agreement, they're able to bash the people who don't agree because after all, they "didn't know" anyone in the group thought differently. It's a passive-aggressive sort of personal attack and people like this depend on those who disagree remaining silent to avoid confrontation or causing a scene.

In the situation described in the OP, I would say something whether or not I believed that the person was aware of my stance on the issue. It doesn't have to be hostile: something along the lines of "As a matter of fact, I do believe B. This may be a subject we should avoid discussing" should be fine. If it's an innocent mistake, the person will be unlikely to repeat it. If it's not, the person has been called out on his attempts at bashing and (most people) will be less likely to repeat it.

I virtually always speak out in circumstances like this whether it's a friend, a stranger, my boss, or anyone else doing the talking. I'm just not willing to be steamrolled or to have people think I believe something that I don't.
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joraemi

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Re: People who assume your agreement?
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2013, 07:56:31 AM »
There's very little you can do with people who assume that everybody shares their beliefs.  That was the case in the library where I worked.  Nothing was neutral ground.  Tastes in vacations, books and television shows were a minefield.  when I mentioned watching the Tournament of Roses Parade, they got on my case.  They would NEVER watch anything so tacky.  Even the building where I lived was said to be 'racist and snooty'.  FTR, the building is a miniature United Nations. 

I was actually told that supporters of X political party were 'demonic'.  Mr. Thipu is a member of X party and they knew it.

I finally decided that, since even my lunch wasn't safe from comment (That stuff has high fructose corn syrup!  It kills everything it touches!) I'd just do my job and not engage in unnecessary conversation.  Putting on my Teflon jacket was the only way to survive. 

Of course, if I really had a Teflon jacket someone would be sure to point out that Teflon causes cancer.

Evil Jo would have promptly thrown the sandwich into their lap to see if it was true.  >:D




Courage is the price life  exacts for granting peace.  ~Amelia Earhart~