Monday, May 11, 2009

Tired of Arguing

Something I am struggling with is how to be reasonable and civil with people who have no intention of responding in kind.

It addition to coming from a very conservative family, I work in a very red industry in a very red state. This often brings me into conflict with others. On the plus side, I have grown past the point where I need to argue about politics or religion with anyone who would hold still for it. My current frustration is that I can't figure out how to get people to agree to disagree once they find out we are not in accord.

Continually, I find myself in conversation that begin with something like, "what do you mean you don't believe in God". A co-worker in the next office over cannot understand why I keep asking her not to quote scripture at people when we are in a common setting. I truly do want to be polite and respect the viewpoints of others even when I strongly disagree with them, but I keep getting backed into a corner and I can only repeat, "I don't really want to get into that right now" so many times. This same co-worker and others will often inform other people of my political views, people with whom I would never bring up either politics or religion. I have been called a communist and a flag burner by some of these people. I have gone to far as to tell one person that I would be happy to talk to him when he wants to discuss business, but I will not discuss the election at all. Requests to cease this behavior have not been successful.

I am not afraid to defend my views, but I don't want to be badgered about them all the time either. What really sets me over the edge is these same people will then tell me how rude liberals are and that all we do is call people names, with no ideas of our own.

I know this blog is technically public, but I consider this spiritual development I am going through to be very private. I have never told anyone at work or in my extended family about it because I don't want to have to defend it. How can I get the message through to these Christian and conservative crusaders that I don't want to argue with them, but I also do not want to be preached at? Has anyone had any success with this?


  1. What you ask for is hard to get.

    I (we) achieved some of this with my now-deceased father-in-law by using his misbehavior as a trigger; if he did it, we politely ended our visit--packed the kids up, and left.

    Hard to do that at work, but if you've expressed your request/intent, then just be civil and leave. Don't explain it again. If they care for your company, the behavior will cease--even without explanation! They may or may not consciously get it, but just like a class can train a professor to only lecture from one exact spot by "losing interest" when he's not there, people can be trained...


    But there's little that people want more than to be right. And particularly when they've got doubts, they *need* to prove their rightness, and getting the external affirmation of others agreeing, and others who disagree... being made to... provides that.

    Pile on top of that the conservative love of conformity to norms (whatever they're defined as) and... it gets ugly.

    My sister in Anchorage suffers some of the same frustrations--conservative spouse (though he's given up even listening to the Big Fat Idiot, and last time I visited talked to me about the *need* for a living wage and health care... to my astonishment!), his conservative family, etc., etc. Stoicism helps. So does refusing to be present for it.

  2. Thanks Ogre. Thanks for the reminder that we all teach people how to treat us. My door does not have to be open to people who want to preach. It takes patience, which isn't fun. I have set parameters before, and just gotten worn down, but it's time to refresh them.