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Overly Concerned About Getting Your Point Across

Such a concern can seriously conflict with coming across well.  Social protocol requires that the primary aim of social interaction is to be social, and to enjoy the interaction.  From my perspective, it is expected that we attempt to be pleasant, to wait our turn to speak, to listen carefully and attentively to our converser and to show a genuine interest in what they are saying. 

So what if we strongly disagree with something that the person we are conversing with says?  Do we say nothing and smile as though we donít care?  Personally Iím naturally pretty argumentative (I trait I have had to learnt to suppress somewhat!), so Iím unlikely to let it pass unnoticed.  I usually very briefly present my opposing opinion, with an added, Ďbut who knows anyway hey?í  Then I let it go.  At this point we have to decide what matters more to us Ė making sure the person hears our point loud and clear, or coming across well.  By all means argue until you feel you have somewhat aggressively made your point.  However, if you choose to do this, from my perspective, you have rejected social protocol in favour of making your point, and have become more concerned with arguing than with how you come across. 

Of course if you are amongst friends, you may all enjoy an animated discussion whereby you aggressively argue your points.  And if you know someone quite well, it might be acceptable, even appropriate to have a little debate about some difference of opinion.  But I would suggest that the less intimate you are with the person you are talking to, the less right you have earned to seek the audience of the person you are talking to, in order to present your argument. 

I think there are two points worth considering here.  The following three points represent my understanding of social protocol.  I believe them to be important underlying points with regard to social interaction.  However, they are my personal observations and opinions gleaned from ongoing careful observation: feel free to reject them if you feel they are inaccurate observations. 

1. People donít usually change their opinions very easily.  If you choose to argue with the person and try to make your point, how likely are you to change the personís opinion as a result of your two-minute rant?  You probably wont, and you may come across as somewhat arrogant to think that your opinion is so much better than theirs that they will automatically change their opinion if you get a little aggressive and push your point.  They are allowed to have a different opinion you know.  Itís not your job to change it just because it differs from yours.  This applies even if you hate their opinion or it really annoys you. 

2. As you may have already gathered from this website, I believe that one of the marks of someone with strong ĎEgoí or strong emotional health, is that she is able to regulate her emotions well.  She is able to allow herself to feel strongly when she wishes, but also is able to withhold emotion and not get overly emotional at other times when she chooses.  She appropriately regulates her emotions, and is therefore, not emotionally Ďunstableí.  We can probably all think of people who shout when they get angry or cry very easily or get overly worked up whenever they are stressed.  These people are not very good at regulating their emotional state.  And it is very apparent to those around them.  I suggest that if you argue a point and donít let it go in a social situation, you are demonstrating that you are not able to emotionally let go of the point.  Letting go of this point (as oppose to getting obsessive about advocating it) would be the socially appropriate response and you are demonstrating that you do not have the emotional regulatory capacity to let it pass.  You are being somewhat obsessive about your point.  In other words you are telegraphing that you are somewhat less emotionally stable.  You may even be unaware that you are coming across in a somewhat less socially appropriate manner.  However, it wonít go unnoticed to those around you. 

3. You donít even have to argue with the person or tell the person that you disagree with them.  Does it really matter that much that you disagree with them?  If you donít really know the person, why even tell them you disagree?  Why not wait till you get to know them better?  Are you overly obsessed with people agreeing with you?  Iím not saying that you should just always keep your opinion to yourself: rather I am just highlighting that if you are obsessed with making people agree with you, then perhaps this is an issue that is worth addressing.

Am I talking for too long and not letting the other person speak?

In a conversation you are sharing the floor with whomever you are talking to.  It is not supposed to be your opportunity to say what you want over and above the other person.  Make sure you give them equal speaking time.  If you donít, you telegraph that you are self-absorbed.  That is not an attractive quality and also telegraphs emotional imbalance.  Demonstrate a genuine interest in what the person you are talking to has to say.  Every opinion is unique and from my perspective itís interesting to see how others view the world and this is part of getting to know the person you are talking to.