Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Insulting Vs. Opinionated

I’ve been stewing on this one for a while now. I come from a long line of VERY opinionated people. We have loud discussions at family gatherings and even a few arguments. Most of us feel very strongly about our opinions, which I think is great. I think if you’re going to stand for something then you should be willing to support it. I take part in a lot of discussions and my favorite topics are often controversial. Usually the discussions remain respectful however there have been occasions when our very diverse, opinionated conversations have turned into insulting arguments. Usually (but not always) the arguments begin because of misunderstandings or hurt feelings because of the way someone has presented their case.

I am never one to say that people should not be allowed their point of view but when does it go from being opinionated to insulting? Personally (I know you didn’t ask but I’m giving it to you anyway lol) I think it’s in the delivery. I believe there is a way to say certain things and way not to say them, especially when it comes to controversial topics. I know that I have some views that are going to ruffle a few feathers but I always try to be careful about how I approach them with people.

For example I try to be mindful of who I am speaking with. If I am speaking with someone I know is sensitive I am going to take a different approach than with someone I know isn’t easily offended. Also I try to be careful how I word things, especially if it’s an online conversation. When someone only has my words to go off of and can’t see body language or eye contact they may not know that I’m being sarcastic or funny. In a nut shell I feel that it’s the way our different views are expressed that can lump us into either the Insulting or Opinionated category. Or maybe some of us can dabble in a little of both. I know that when we get passionate about something it can be hard to stop and consider whether or not what we are about to say or how we are about to say it could be offensive to someone else.

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share!


Sela Carsen said...

I think that it can cross the line when folks refuse to be part of a reasonable discussion. Human relationships are based on compromise, very often, and if it's not a hard line issue, then there's no reason NOT to say, "Ok, I see your point." I've had too many discussions with people who would form an opinion based on some knee-jerk reaction, then refuse to back down, no matter how unreasonable their opinion was. In addition, they felt that if you *didn't* share their opinion, you were obviously stupid.

There are very, very, very few black & white issues in this world. And while there are some things that I won't compromise on at all, most opinions become more solid for the occasional tweak.

Romantic Heretic said...

For me the tipping point from opinionated to insulting is that point when the conversation goes from abstract to personal.

At that point the vibe goes from "My opinion is different from yours" to "You're an evil idiot if you believe that, asshole!"

It's why I prefer not to talk about politics these days. Such discussions always seem to devolve into that state.

Anonymous said...

I'm really good at sticking my foot in it! Online. Off. On the Phone. Yeap. And I consider myself good with words.

Nope. Guess not.

Then you have my husband... he can take on the most controversial of issues and somehow make it all go over smoothly.

Delivery is key. I'm a bit too brash for sublety... heck I can't even spell.... UGH.

April Morelock

December said...

I agree- its in the delivery. If you're opinionated, and willing to have a discussion- an exchange of ideas - its refreshing. But if you go in unwilling to even listen to the other party, and try to lambast them into agreeing with you? its not a discussion.

My stepmother is really opinionated, and loud. she's also HIGHLY educated, and likes to have heated discussions. This annoys alot of the family.
But I enjoy it, becuase I end up asking questions and learning from her. She took the time to educate herself, and research the topics. That's not to say I always agree, I just appreciate her efforts.

Why do I always end up rambling on your blog?

Chaeya said...

I will be honest. I enjoy discussions, debates and I can get loud because of my passion, but people think I'm getting angry, but I'm not. If I get quiet that's when I'm angry. I even enjoy a good argument now and then. I just have a very dominant personality. But I've learned that most people don't agree with this. If you're loud, you're mad and need to be calmer. So I will only go so far in most situations and most of the time, I won't say anything. There are a few people I know who I love because they understand me and we can get down to the gritty and we know it isn't personal. I think if you're name calling, that's crossing the line. You can tell when people are really mad and sometimes I like to needle them a little. I can be an imp that way because even if I have a believe, I hold them loosely because I am open to other people's beliefs. Overall, it can be a lot of fun.

jodi said...

I'm highly opinionated, but since I stutter when I'm tired, most people can't make heads or tails of me. I'm always tired.

That's what I love about the internet. When you can't stand someone you can always block the user, or ignore them. Winterbunny is right, arguing for the sake of arguing isn't a discussion

Lauren Murphy said...

Sela, I totally agree. I feel that two (or more) people can have (or should be able to have)a discussion and hold opposing views but can still be reasonable and even just agree to disagree if they can't come to an agreement. How many times did I just use the word agree lol?

Romantic, I agree with you as well. I'm so agreeable today. ;)
Anyway I have noticed that when people become too personally involved they can become hostile and I usually refuse to talk politics or religion for that matter. Those are two of the fastest ways to get into an argument IMO.

April I think I am the master (or at lease one of them) of sticking my foot in it. I have so much trouble verbalizing my thoughts it’s not even funny. My mind moves so much faster than my mouth… if you can believe that. This is the reason I write. It’s still possible for me to put my foot it in it but not as likely.

December, ditto on both counts. I always try to go into a conversation with an open mind. What’s the point of having a discussion if all you want to do try to force everyone over to your side and not even consider what others have to say? Also I have learned a lot from other people with different view points and though I may not always agree it’s always enlightening to hear another point of view. Also I will excuse the rambling. How can you avoid rambling when visiting the blog of a person who owns rambling. :P

Chaeya, we could be related. I can get very loud when I get passionate about something but I don’t get into name calling or bashing. I’m also one of those people who is (or should that be are… heck I’m not English major) quiet when I’m bothered or angry. Quite a few people have trouble trying to deal with me because of it. But I DO enjoy a good debate!

Jodi, you’re highly opinionated? *Gasp* Who would have thought? No really I couldn’t tell?

Ok you know I’m just kidding… please don’t punish me. *checks for empty elevators*

Minx Malone said...

The key difference for me is whether the other person is willing to admit that what's right for them might not be right for me.

I'm highly opinionated myself but I always preface my comments by saying "in my experience" or "what works for me".

It took me a long time to learn but I've finally realized how individual we all are. Five people can experience a problem and come up with five different yet valid solutions.

Whatever works ya know?

Alice Audrey said...

I've always drawn the line at where the subject is. If the subject is a topic, then it's opinion. If it's a person, then it's insult. The difference is "It doesn't work this way" vs "You are an idiot."

And yes, delivery has a lot to do with it.