2012-08-01

We're not the same at all

So, Frank and  I had a disagreement. It's still unresolved and I don't know exactly how to solve that. I wrote an email, as I am wont to do, where I tried explain my behavior and theorized as to his on the basis of myself.

As I was thinking about that email on my way to work this morning it occurred to me that he might not like this. More specifically that he might consider himself better than me and therefore resent the comparison.

This sounds a bit judgmental so I'd better explain: I tend to classify people in my head. I put them above me, below me or equal to me. It's not something I particularly like about myself, and it's not something I am aware that I am doing. I notice it in certain situations, for example when someone I have classified as inferior says that we are the same. In my head I reject this and scoff at it, I don't say it out loud but I can feel my body lean away from the person. The rejection will be obvious if he or she pays attention. The reverse is also true, when someone I have deemed superior includes me I feel elated.

I am fairly certain that this type of classification is common. Because I am aware that I do it I try to combat it. I think this is the case for most people that I interact with. We do it but we know it's wrong so we distance ourselves from it. We don't say it out loud, but it's sometimes present in body language, a pause and squinted eyes. I see it in others and I know it in myself.

That was the thought that struck me this morning that my email might have elicited  that I'm-nothing-like-you, who-do-you-think-you-are rejection.

The nature of the disagreement relates to this as well. Frank feels I am too confident when I state things and that I never admit when I am wrong. I, on the other hand, think that Frank puts too much stock in his own conclusions and is inflexible when it comes to other points of view. It's a bit of a hopeless situation. I know my obstinacy has to do with how I measure my self worth. Part of it is shame of being wrong, and part what being wrong implies about me (that I am stupid). When analyzing Frank's obstinacy I have two alternate conclusions. The first is that he truly thinks he is smarter than I am and that when he says stuff like "you're illogical" he thinks I should just accept that because he is smart and doesn't have to explain himself. The second is that his self worth is involved, that is, it's dangerous to reevaluate his point of view because if the implications of finding it flawed.

In my email I proposed the second, but clearly if that's true, then it might do more harm than good. On the other hand, the days of me deferring to his superior wit are over. I can not put myself on an unequal footing (and I sincerely hope no one ever accepts my evaluation). I am resigned to reiterating "because you don't see the logic," until he reevaluates, or I am proven wrong or we stop talking.

Since that made me sound like a responsibility avoiding jerk, I'd like to clarify that the deferring I did was placating. So, dishonest at beat and manipulative at worst.

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