Last weekend during the party at our friends house where I worshipped the porcelain god and ended up hungover the next morning… Mr. Tall Dark and Swedish, Husband #2, had decided that he was going to get into a discussion about immigration/emigration with our friend Captain America*. This discussion was prompted, okay… instigated, by Captain America after he read an article about the riots in Sweden this month. Mr. Tall Dark and Swedish is from Sweden and has gone rounds with the State Department over work Visas a couple times. He’s educated, works for a tech company, and is the offspring of a native Swede and an immigrant. This topic is something he’s very passionate about. He also rebutted with a couple articles about riots here in the US: Los Angeles, Detroit.
Mr. Tall Dark and Swedish (Mr. TDS), like me and Mr. Muse, is also an introvert. Upon first meeting him years ago, he was very quiet but in a “reflective and absorptive” way, not in that “standoffish” way so often associated with quiet people (like me). When Mr. TDS spoke, he was choosey with his words, eloquent, enunciated and often asked thought-provoking questions. Those are all qualities I try to use (though at times I don’t enunciate as well as I can or should) in conversations, particularly the thought-provoking questions, so I appreciated seeing them in another person.
Captain America is a member of the military, a “prepper”, a guns and gun-rights enthusiast, and the list could go on, but suffice it to say – a near opposite of Mr. TDS and someone with whom I personally have a difficult time discussing serious topics. Because of my quiet, reflective nature, attempts at conversations about serious topics (global warming, immigration reform, the presidential race, gun rights, women’s right…. you get the idea) with Captain America can find us being run over like yesterday’s roadkill on the conversational highway. The sheer volume of words and opinions and the volume at which they are spoken leaves us quiet sorts feeling talked over and belittled.
Partway through the evening, after Mr. TDS attempted to have his immigration/emigration discussion with Captain America, and another friend-quaintence of similar temperament to Captain America, he came into the house looking thoughtful and….defeated. In fact, Mr. TDS looked downright downtrodden, and I inquired after his discussion as it looked “like it hadn’t gone well”. Mr. TDS’s response was that I was to keep him from having serious discussions in the future because it was pointless and so he just had to stick with talking about things like the merits of guppies versus dogs as pets (a reference to Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking)
So this led to an exchange of emails in the days to follow and while I didn’t receive, nor ask, for many details of his attempted discussion with Captain America, it was plain that he was feeling a bit like roadkill after a hot day in the sun: deflated. I told Hubby #2 that the very reasons he was feeling run over and defeated and that it was pointless to have discussions of a serious nature were the very reasons I choose not to engage Captain America in debates on serious topics. There isn’t an exchange of ideas, there is a steamrolling of submission.
This also got me pondering about the people with whom I enjoy having discussions on serious topics and why that is the case. Those people, or even small groups, that I enjoy having a good, hearty discussion or debate with are those people who do not run over the other(s) with their ideas and opinions but offer them with a touch of “I hear what you’re saying” and a pinch of “but have you considered this?” Often, these people listen twice as much as they speak, and such as the case of my closest friends and myself, when we do have a difference of opinions, we seldom play whack-a-mole with the other persons or peoples. I’m not saying it never happens, just not usually. (Admittedly, I’m the one most likely to play whack-a-mole amongst the quiet sorts, though I also like to provoke rebuttals and defense of ideas so a whack is usually followed with a question or two so the other thinks harder about a situation or topic.)
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
So, Readers, Friends – in a conversation, are you the type who enjoys a good discussion or debate about serious topics where an exchange of ideas happens or are you more like Captain America and you try to “win” the discussion with a flood of words at high volume?
If you’re attempting to have a discussion with a Captain America-type, how do you handle the situation?
*I seriously wanted to write “Captain ‘MURICA!” for this… but… you know. I didn’t. I resisted the urge. I feel dirty now…