I have this personality trait, for better and largely worse, of being disagreeable, especially in groups of people I do not know very well. As you can imagine, this has numerous consequences (for both my personal brand and those around me).
I’ll specify, though, by saying that I do not believe I “disagree for the sake of disagreeing” – I do not think that the “devil always needs an advocate.” And in fact, I subscribe to the principle of strong opinions, weakly held, I want people to change my mind! I am really just trying my best to think for myself and ascertain the truth.
But I will not pretend, nor lie to myself, that I am on some noble mission whereas others are out there propagating lies to the world. Optimistically, I could be so much better. Pessimistically, and perhaps a more realistic outlook on my current situation, I have a long way to go. Luckily, I have time, and thoughts…so hopefully I can move (directionally) forward. but I will emphasize, I am working on it. I am working, literally everyday, on becoming a better person. Though, it can be challenging to identify what better is…
It starts with this idea of “always speaking your mind.” I tend to do that. I think I do that for a few reasons: 1) when I hear “absolute statements” that I actually do not believe in, I generally say something. I say something, in defense of the truth, which can often be hard to swallow. 2) I get bored in conversations easily and am bad at staying still. So I often interject and attempt to drive conversations, to what I see to be, forward. This often backfires.
Neither of those reasons is an excuse to be rude to someone. People deserve respect, of course.
I recognize that I am likely wrong often. They are often bored of me. They are often right.
But I also realize that sometimes they are not. Sometimes my voice is valuable. I just need to know when and where to have these discussions. People are tired. People do not want to argue. People do not want to clarify everything. People just want to think clearly.
This essay’s title is smile and wave – encapsulating this quality I see in so few people yet I so much respect.
I admire people who have extremely strong, independent views, but really know how to harness them.
They are perhaps extremely disagreeable people – their views would make others scream in rage – yet they contain them for the appropriate times.
I am terrible at this. I let my views leak everywhere I go. This is bad. This is not a healthy lifestyle, probably, because it negatively affects others (short term).
I think a really mature and valuable quality is to be able to smile and wave to others. To be polite. To be happy for them even if you disagree with their path to happiness.
For a while, I have thought it “rude” to smile and wave. I equated smile and wave with “fake.”
I still do question this. Is it better to tell someone how you really feel or just say nothing? Is it better to disagree or just smile and wave and go on and be unmemorable and have a normal conversation.
Of course, the reality is generally less extreme.
You could disagree politely…
You could also say nothing.
Saying nothing is generally the best course of action for people you just met (I think). A very disagreeable friend recently told me this…I asked him how he communicates with people he thinks are wrong about things.
I do not lead with these views…I lead politely. And then if I am not interested in those people I just stop spending time with them.
I think this is a good model. There is no reason to spew bullshit to everyone. Pick and choose. Be diligent about who you spend time with.
And you never know…
I am going down one path. That path could very well be the worst path for me. And yet, I am heads down trying my best. Anyone you meet has the potential to change that.
So long as they believe in the truth.
Also published on Medium.