Unsolicited Advice: put the little zealot back in your pants

I have a quality about me that brings the zealots out to play.  It seems that my innate curiosity about the world, my open way of asking questions (50% of which are rhetorical) inspires “teachable moments” in evangelists of all kinds of faiths, diets, lifestyles, and medical alternatives.  This is especially true of my facebook interactions.*  I realize that many people on facebook have never met me in person or spent any time reading my blogs which might provide more clarity about who I am and how I communicate.  I’m not perfect, but I AM PREDICTABLE.

How to have pleasurable conversations with Angelina (and other people trying not to take everything too seriously):

If it is possible to insert levity in a serious discussion, I will do it.

I am pretty skilled at reading the subtext in conversations so there’s a good chance I know what you DIDN’T say.  Also, if I know you pretty well, I can fill in a lot of blanks from our personal history of conversations on any given comment.  You should be able to do the same with me.

No topic is so sacred that I won’t joke about it.

I have a lot of friends who are more clever than I am and I often don’t get their jokes.  But I do try because when I don’t get them I end up doing to them what people do to me – taking them up as though they were being completely serious.  So, clever friends, I’m working on learning when you’re telling really smart jokes so I stop making a fool of myself.

I’m a writer, I use colorful language and artful exaggerations to make my point

My attempts to avoid confrontation sometimes make things more difficult. In an effort to be polite I avoid saying things like “you are stressing me out with your comments” or “I already know your extremely extreme views on this subject and my ears will bleed if I have to hear you lecture me about it any more”.  But my tactics for avoiding confrontation haven’t been effective.  So I may be adopting a new confrontation avoidance method in which I respond to comments that make me uncomfortable by saying “Thank you for your thoughts on this.” which acknowledges a comment but allows me to not divulge the fact that someone is pissing me off or hurting my feelings or ignoring what they should already know about me but are too bone-headed to accept.  Coming soon to a discussion on home schooling near you!

Sometimes I’m an asshole when people push my buttons.  It’s a quality I don’t love about myself and am always working on.  If you feel I’ve just been an asshole to you and don’t understand what you did to bring it on, you probably pushed my buttons.

Put the little zealot back in your pants

Examine your conscience before you comment.  Are you tempted to comment only because you want to do battle with my viewpoints?  Are you open-minded enough to have an actual discussion about this viewpoint you want to challenge?  Are you willing to have your own viewpoints challenged?  More to the point: are you willing to change your viewpoints?  If not, take a Quaalude and chill the hell out**.  If you aren’t willing to have your mind changed by my perspective, then don’t try to change mine with yours.

Everyone exaggerates for effect, even if they don’t admit it

So if I don’t want you shoving your agenda into my conversations, why the hell bother to have conversations in the first place?  Conversations are a way we get to know each other and share our stories.  Sharing stories isn’t about trying to convert people to your groovy new lifestyle doing Tai Chi in the snow in your underwear, it’s about sharing that you’re mad enough to stand around for three hours in the snow doing Tai Chi in your skivvies.  The trick is to share your experience with zero agenda to convince others to do it.  It’s seriously about your intention.

So what if I mention that I have a rash and I can’t figure out what it is or how to treat it and I sound like I’m asking for input?  Fair enough.  I do that all the time and I do actually appreciate people’s input.  Mostly I’m interested to know if you have personally experienced such a thing yourself and what you did about it and how that worked out.  But if you know me at all then you should know that suggesting treatments that include changing my whole diet or lifestyle pushes my buttons.  If that actually worked for you personally, tell me your story.  But don’t tell me it works for everyone because you can’t possibly know that and most people into huge diet changes for health want to share “studies” or “reports” that are easily countered with other “studies” and “reports” that completely contradict them, and they want you to take everything they have to say as gospel.  Just knock it off.  I’m not a gullible idiot.  I want to hear your personal experience, don’t evangelize.

Goldenseal makes me burp for a minimum of 12 hours

I am much more likely to take the uneducated**** medical advice of a person who is equally open to both modern “western” medicine and naturopathic medicine than from someone who is strictly on one side or another.  If I happen to already know that you will only treat illness with herbs or acupuncture, then it will seriously push my button when you tell me that I just need to change my whole diet and take a shitload of wacky expensive supplements for the rest of my life.  Sometimes it’s not about your damn diet.  Likewise, if you’re a person who I know thinks all natural medicine is bogus and always suggest I should go for the surgery or go for the pills without exploration into all options, you will annoy the crap out of me and I won’t listen to anything you have to say on the topic.

I’ll take my Jesus with a side of salt

It’s the same with religion.  I am much more likely to actually hear what open minded Christians have to say than I am to really listen to those Christians who are against women’s and gay rights or who think being Muslim automatically makes you a terrorist.  The same goes for any other spiritual belief system.  If you hate atheists or those who don’t have religion I will smell it on you even if you don’t declare yourself and I will not be able to get past your hate to hear what you have to say.  I actually don’t think I’m very different from most people in this way.

This also applies to politics, education, lifestyle, gender, and virtually every topic you can come up with.  I can’t hear people above their agendas.  Can you?

Here’s a summary of everything I’ve said above:

The more you try to convince me of your extreme views the less open I am to hearing them.

Let’s both keep zealotry out of our casual conversations, okay?

 

*Want to join me on facebook?  Please do, but only after you read this post.  Okay?  Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/angelinawrites

**See that?  That was levity.  I wouldn’t seriously want you to take a Quaalude because that’s so last century.***

***I did it again!  I actually meant I wouldn’t want you to take a Quaalude because I wouldn’t ever actually suggest anyone take drugs.  But you should have already known that.

****Meaning you aren’t a trained professional doctor.

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