Posted by: CJ | November 18, 2010

Some people have simple rules…

Some people seem to have fairly simple over-riding objectives when they’re in a conversation.

One of my friends always wants to be right. Another always wants the things he believes in to be decisively, painfully correct while the critics are morons for being skeptical of the genius of whatever field/idea/person he believes in. (This is close, but not exactly, the same as always wanting to be right.) The father of a friend wants to be the center of attention in any group conversation.

These little–or big–tendencies tend to be easily noticed by people paying attention. But I’m often not paying attention, so I miss them. And then it’s a big shock when the simple little rule is pointed out, since knowing it would have made some conversations so much simpler.

So I need to pay more attention to whatever conversational/interaction priorities people I’m talking to have.

I also am curious what simple rules I have. I think one of my simple rules is that I’m the most reasonably skeptical person in the room. I usually won’t believe something until I’m absolutely convinced it’s true. But I can be convinced if it’s something that can be assigned an unambiguous truth value.

I’m not sure what other simple rules I have. If you have any suggestions/thoughts, feel free to put them in comments.



  1. How about “use the most precise word possible, even if it’s obscure” and “long silences and slow talking are needed for deep thought using precise words.”

    Neither of those are criticisms, and not constants, either–but common.

  2. Yeah, that’s definitely true. The hard part, for me, is that it’s sorta the natural way I think and talk. People who can’t switch into that mode of cognition–it’s something slightly beyond just a communication style–have a very, very difficult time understanding me. Because I can load tons of meaning into the proper word choice.

    Of course, everything goes to hell if it turns out my understanding of a word is idiosyncratic. I’ve gotten into many arguments over such things.

    What I wish people understood is that they’re a lot happier with me taking a long time to be happy with my reply. Otherwise I get snappish. Most people understand this, even if they’re frustrated by it. But there are those hated (by me) few who just don’t get it…

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