Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 837900

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should you offend people?

Posted by sunnydays on July 3, 2008, at 19:49:44

So, I would normally address this to my T, but he is on vacation, so I will ask you guys.

I am taking a class now that is really challenging a lot of my assumptions and beliefs (and is meant to), and I am really kind of scared. I get into thinking that maybe because I have these beliefs to be challenged in the first place, maybe I don't belong in this program, etc. But I keep trying to tell myself that the fact I'm willing to think about my beliefs and be flexible means of course I should be there.

My question is: when is it ok to offend people? My class was basically saying when there is a problem you believe in strongly, then it's ok and sometimes people need to be offended. That idea scares me, as I was strongly brought up to never offend anyone and always 'be nice'.

I really really really want to talk to my T, but he's not here. :( I miss him a lot. Today would have been the day I should have seen him. I am just so lost and confused and needy.

sunnydays

 

Re: should you offend people? sunnydays

Posted by Maxime on July 3, 2008, at 20:00:35

In reply to should you offend people?, posted by sunnydays on July 3, 2008, at 19:49:44

No, you should NOT offend people. Think of how you would want to be treated and act that way.

Having said that, you can argue your point of view with offending people. You have a right to hold your own world views.

Hope this helps.

Maxime

 

Re: should you offend people? sunnydays

Posted by lucie lu on July 3, 2008, at 20:53:35

In reply to should you offend people?, posted by sunnydays on July 3, 2008, at 19:49:44

Sunny, sounds like you are doing just fine w/o your T. I really admire you for taking a challenging course that has you examining your beliefs. That takes courage - too few people do that.

As for the question of offending people, I think that it depends. If you are simply stating your own personal beliefs, while being respectful of others', and they are offended, that is their problem and not yours. Being "offensive" is another thing altogether. That is consciously setting out to make other people uncomfortable and, well, offended. But I don't get the sense that that is what you are talking about. Hope that helps.

If you feel lonely and lost while your T is gone, then post. We are here for you.

Lucie

 

Re: should you offend people?

Posted by Dinah on July 3, 2008, at 22:28:22

In reply to should you offend people?, posted by sunnydays on July 3, 2008, at 19:49:44

I agree with the others. I think it's perfectly possible to state your beliefs in a respectful and inoffensive way. And I rather suspect that doing so increases the chance that others will listen to what you have to say.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I find that when people speak reasonably and respectfully, I'm well able to consider their point of view. But if I feel disrespected, I'm more likely to hold on to my point of view with a bulldog's grip, and come up with reasons to defend my point of view.

Perhaps you could politely and respectfully disagree with the point of view that one has to be offensive to get one's point across?

BTW, I've always seen you here as someone who is certainly agreeable, and very nice, but who has no particular problem expressing your own point of view. I think you may already have a good mastery of this area of communication.

 

Re: should you offend people? sunnydays

Posted by raisinb on July 3, 2008, at 22:51:23

In reply to should you offend people?, posted by sunnydays on July 3, 2008, at 19:49:44

I have a different take on this, because I like conflict in certain settings. Unnecessary conflict isn't good, but sometimes just enough is great, and gets the conversation much farther than it would go if people were trying to be sensitive or respectful. I don't think you should intentionally offend people, but if you feel strongly about something, then I think you should let it fly.

But it definitely depends on the context. I'm thinking of your class, where (probably) the purpose is to spark intelligent debate and to challenge everyones' opinions. Similarly, in a work meeting, I'd be very outspoken (and I am, I am famous for it :)).

In a more intimate or vulnerable setting, though, I'd be more careful. For instance, on babble, it's very important to avoid judging, since we know how sensitive and personal these issues are. And in a close relationship, when you have a lot of power to hurt another person, I think you should be careful what you say. So I think it varies.

 

Re: should you offend people?

Posted by sunnydays on July 3, 2008, at 23:02:24

In reply to Re: should you offend people? sunnydays, posted by raisinb on July 3, 2008, at 22:51:23

Thanks all. I think that the idea was that you should question people about their beliefs (specifically racist, classist, sexist, ableist). Asking someone who makes a racist remark why they made it. Because we generally agreed that just saying to someone, "Hey, that's racist" is going to shut them down and make them defensive (although actually the more you know someone, the less likely that is to happen). And some people get defensive anyway just being asked why - not being asked why with a motivation to change their mind necessarily, but just with the motivation of trying to understand where these things come from in society and how they can be addressed.

I have a real problem sometimes in that I give up my belief if I am around someone who thinks differently to avoid conflict. But I guess the point was that sometimes friction between people is going to happen if we try to make society more accepting of all.

I'm really hoping this post in itself doesn't offend anyone. We really in this class are just talking about trying to combat personal and societal biases to make society more accepting of everyone and to try to give everyone an equal opportunity.

Whoever said I'm doing fine without my T - it's interesting. I am. But at the same time I keep getting freaked out because there are things I want to check out with him and talk about and explore that I can't. So I feel like I'm missing my fall-back person.

sunnydays

 

Re: should you offend people?

Posted by Dinah on July 3, 2008, at 23:40:16

In reply to Re: should you offend people?, posted by sunnydays on July 3, 2008, at 23:02:24

Ahhh.... Those types of situations.

It's my experience that context is all. I never compromise my beliefs or pretend to agree with something I don't agree with. And I generally let that be known, however politely or indirectly. But beyond that, I consider what is likely to be useful in a given situation.

My favorite quote on the subject comes from "The Vulcan Academy Murders", a Star Trek novel.

"I do not understand," Sarek said in that totally flat tone which McCoy had come to understand was a diplomatic way of saying, "I am refusing to understand so that you will not be embarrassed when you realize that you have said something gauche."

But again, context is everything. That would only be effective with someone who understood that they would have reason to be embarrassed.

 

Re: should you offend people?

Posted by Happyflower on July 4, 2008, at 9:52:17

In reply to Re: should you offend people?, posted by Dinah on July 3, 2008, at 23:40:16

I have had a few of those classes, sociology,philosophy,and some psych classes. I think it is wonderful you are being open to see other viewpoints. That is one of the things college is suppose to do for you.

Some people are very rigid in their beliefs and do get offended if you question them. Even if you use logic and proof they are wrong, they will defend themselves. I have seen students drop out of classes because the class challenged beliefs they have grown up with. Also keep in mind that social norms of what is acceptable to believe has also changed throughout time.

For me I welcome the challenge against my beliefs because sometimes they have changed when I heard another side to things or they sometimes strengthen my beliefs too. But a lot of people are not like that. I could use examples but I don't know how to do that with the strict rules of this site.

 

Re: should you offend people? sunnydays

Posted by raisinb on July 4, 2008, at 10:09:25

In reply to should you offend people?, posted by sunnydays on July 3, 2008, at 19:49:44

Sometimes being offended, as difficult as it may be, is very important for learning.

I teach a Gender Studies class to high school seniors and I often being by showing The Crying Game. Many of the kids (especially the ones from conservative families) get offended. And they are vocal about it! But if you seize that moment--when everyone has strong reactions--and manage to have a relatively civil discussion--the learning opportunity is excellent. Assumptions and expectations that they've held all their lives are thrown into relief.

I'm not sure the learning would be as intense if the emotional reactions weren't so visceral.

 

Love that quote, Dinah (nm) Dinah

Posted by backseatdriver on July 4, 2008, at 14:53:45

In reply to Re: should you offend people?, posted by Dinah on July 3, 2008, at 23:40:16

 

Re: should you offend people?

Posted by backseatdriver on July 4, 2008, at 14:57:04

In reply to Re: should you offend people? sunnydays, posted by raisinb on July 4, 2008, at 10:09:25

Hey Sunny,
Just wanted to throw in my two cents, which is just to say, I hope you're feeling better and that the time til T (T-time?) comes quickly. As for offending folks, I try to avoid it, because an offended person is harder to reach than otherwise. Course, sometimes there's no help for it -- then it's a question of apologies and defusing the situation and hopefully making clarifications. Keeping the dialogue open is most important to me.
Yours,
BSD

 

Re: should you offend people? sunnydays

Posted by fayeroe on July 5, 2008, at 12:46:47

In reply to should you offend people?, posted by sunnydays on July 3, 2008, at 19:49:44

Hey, Sweetheart!

Should we offend people?

Due to my work, I've been thrown into a pot of different cultures and there are disagreements going on alot.

A good example that happened recently to me was I got into a heated discussion with a student about dogfighting. I am very opposed to it and he sees it as something that is accepted in his "culture".

I am so passionate in my belief that you should NEVER ever put any dog in a situation where they will be hurt that I was concerned one day that I had offended him. He was really upset and I thought he was very angry when he left class.

He came to class again and told me that he thought that his culture had been disrespected but when he thought it through, it was all about him being scared that I'll be hurt when I'm working with the Humane Society. I hunt for dogfights and then assist the local county animal control officer build a case against the men that are involved. One thing that he said to me was, "Ms. Allgood, I don't want to read about you in the paper" "I don't want you to be hurt, those people mean business when someone snitches".....

I thought that I was offended because I took his remarks to be sexist and that they also were because "my race doesn't understand the importance of dog fights"to the men who participate in them.

So, in our case, I learned something. Sometimes feeling offended masks other issues that can be worked out.

xoxox Pat

 

terrific post! (nm) fayeroe

Posted by lucie lu on July 5, 2008, at 13:42:44

In reply to Re: should you offend people? sunnydays, posted by fayeroe on July 5, 2008, at 12:46:47


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