Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Logical Failure

I’m a firm believer that reasonable logic is your best ally in an argument. In fact, because I try so hard to keep to this I am quite sure that more than one person out there has the wrong idea about what I believe. It’s not that I don’t want to express myself or be honest with people but I have found that the best way to change someone’s mind is to listen, empathize and then pull out reasonable logic.
This means that I can be having a conversation with someone and they’ll say something that I think is completely wrong, offensive (though admittedly I’m hard to offend), or just plain bone-headed. Rather than getting my ire up I try to listen and understand how someone could come to such an opinion. In doing this you can glean an incredible amount of information re how receptive that person is to change. If I get the impression that they are not that interested in hearing another opinion then I try to listen carefully, drop what I hope is an illuminating comment every once in a while, and go about my way. However, if I feel that someone is genuinely interested in a discourse then I try to pull out all the reasonable logic that I can. Timing is everything (those who know me well know this is practically my mantra) and a well-timed comment can move a mountain of prejudice.

While having a discussion recently with a friend, not an argument at all, we were both all reasonable logic and congeniality. Then they said something, not unkindly and that technically wasn’t personal, that caught me so completely off guard –and offended me so deeply – that I actually began to stutter. I am usually well-spoken and fairly well-composed and I was grasping onto this as desperately as I could. All the while hearing the dreaded statement like a broken record in my mind AND trying to come up with an appropriate response. It wasn’t the kind of thing I wanted to let go by but it was also something that I felt so strongly about that I wanted to say just the right thing. With all this buzzing in my brain like a head-rush I stuttered over the first part of my response and I have no idea if I was actually cogent for the first half of it. I think by the end I managed to make my point well enough and though I am not at all sure if I changed a mind I did plant a seed of another idea. Sometimes that is the best that we can do.

So I will take from this the rare experience of being greatly offended and a window into a new opinion that I would not have expected such a person to have. I think I have learned something valuable and added a new tool to the toolbox of my reasonably logical future.

This entire post presupposes that all my opinions are right and it is my duty to convert others to the pinnacle of my life philosophy. I understand the wanton superiority of this and I wish I could say I’m sorry but I am not. Maybe someday someone as enlightened and patient as myself will be around to gently reform my superiority complex.

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