Trouble speaking a dissenting opinion to others sometimes

Alright, I was wondering what your opinions are on this matter. I sometimes feel like if I have known a person for years, and if they are the established alpha male of the group and I have an opinion that goes directly against what they are saying, then I have difficulty expressing it. Or if there is a group of people who are all saying the same thing that I disagree with, I still (may) have trouble with it.

I may naturally want to say, “no, I think that idea is wrong” or “I hate that band” or “I think that lifestyle isn’t a good one” in certain times when I disagree. If I don’t say my opinion then I feel disempowered a little bit, and like I smacked my own face. I feel also that sometimes it is a huge thing to say a different opinion, even if it’s “I think that band sucks.” (Depending on who it is, not the context)

If it is the boss, then I understand. But if it is with friends, or the dojo I am staying at, or with a stranger who looks important, then I feel that it is a blow to my self esteem to not bring up that I think that the opposite is true in certain matters. Like in the dojo if someone brings up the idea that a certain move is good and they are a black belt there, I feel it is disrespectful or something to say, “no, I disagree, that move is bogus.” (I have been doing martial arts off and on for 10 years by the way)

I am wondering how people here would handle that.

Instead of bluntly saying"That band sucks" couldn’t you say something like “They are ok but I think X band is more my taste”, Or instead of “that move is bogus” you say " I like this move, what do you think?" Then go on to discuss things.

I get what you’re saying. However, I am not talking about being unnecessarily harsh. I see how that could be seen in the examples given but that wasn’t what I was going for. I mean just saying I don’t like something, or I think something is not a good idea (or I do like something when they say otherwise)

Like if a friend says, “I think so and so band is the worst band in the world, they are GARBAGE” I have trouble saying, “I like them a lot.” I am not sure what it is but I think it might be a fear of rejection or disapproval.

Use the “Sandwich Method” – 2 very ambiguous and mollifying statements with a harsh, and perhaps facetious statement in between.

EXAMPLE: “Gosh, there are so many musical groups today, that’s it’s really difficult to make a decision on who is best”, and the meat, “If a wolf and a coyote and a lamb vote on what’s for lunch, that could be described as Democracy in action, but if you give the lamb a shotgun, he can then dispute the election results, and while I may be in the minority on the popularity of
certain groups, I nonetheless suggest that anyone who disagrees with me, look for the miseltoe on my coattail and act accordingly”, and the other slice of bread, “I don’t think there
is a group that everyone could agree on totally, and each of them has a number of good works”.

“Clearly not everybody agrees with you - or you’d have never heard of the band at all”

But it sounds like maybe you fear the consequences of voicing an opposing view - is that so? What do you think is the worst that might happen?

I think that’s pretty much the definition of an “alpha male” dynamic, and you are not alone in feeling it. Humans are pack creatures, and to express a dissenting view is terrifying on a visceral, monkey brain level, because our peer group is the one we rely on to support us when we’re incapacitated. We are - most of us - literally wired to fit in. Even “nonconformists” tend to form groups with other people who are nonconforming in the same way!

But here’s something that has helped me with the self-esteem issues that result from this, and also helped me to reduce my reluctance a bit with age and experience: Remember how your mom, or your teacher, or someone in your life once told you, “Everyone is important. You’re not more special than anyone else,” or something similar? It’s a common bit of wisdom passed on to kids when they’re throwing a tantrum because they want to watch Spongebob when everyone else wants to watch something else, or when they want to go to McDonalds but Mom and Dad want to go to Arby’s. The message is that to get along, you have to give in to the greater good. And it’s true, it really is. It’s part of that herd mentality, and it’s a vital skill to have if you don’t want to be a dick and want people to help you next time you have to move.

But now examine the flip side: “Everyone is important.” Newsflash: “everyone” includes you. :eek: True, you are not more important…but neither are you LESS important. When voting, you get one and exactly one vote. When expressing an opinion, you are just exactly as entitled to express that opinion (no more, no less) than anyone else in the group. So…speak! Be prepared to defend you opinion with facts. Be prepared that you may not persuade anyone to share your opinion. But you are perfectly within your rights to express it.

(This does not apply, of course, if you’re dealing with an issue that is one requiring specialized education or familiarity with the topic. I might have an opinion on rocket science, but it’s a bullshit opinion not worthy of air time, since I know nothing about it. So when rocket science comes up, I shut my mouth and listen and learn.)

Don’t worry about pissing people off. The person who bashes the bands you like obviously isn’t so sensitive, so why should you be?

You can always try the following replies:

“Maybe the band sucks. But I do like X, Y, and Z songs. Their first album is kind of sweet.”

“Hey, speak for yourself! I happen to enjoy them.”

“Tell us how you really feel!” (This works well when someone’s negativity is so over-the-top that it can’t be taken seriously.)

I don’t like when people express uninformed opinions too loudly or often around me. I know someone for whom this is a past time and I love making her squirm by asking her questions which reveal the depth of her ignorance. I know this is pretty mean of me, but I simply do not care. If she doesn’t like being embarrassed, she should learn to keep her mouth shut.

Keep telling yourself that their opinion isn’t any more important than yours is, and that most people don’t expect you to agree with everything they say. That’s what helped me, but it took time.

This reminds me of the Asch Experiment. It was a social study where they asked a room of people very obvious, basic questions. However, only one of the people asked was a test subject - the others all purposefully gave the same wrong answer. What they found was that the majority of the test subjects gave the wrong answer everyone else was giving even though it was clearly not right.
If you’re among “equals” - such as friends instead of a boss - then there’s no reason not to voice your views in a friendly, casual way. You can try to both explain why you prefer another band, lifestyle, etc, while also acknowledging their favorite and making it clear that there’s no definitive “right” and “wrong” (even if you think there is, and they’re wrong).

One way is to start by saying, “Well, I don’t know if I’d agree with you on that,” or something similar. In a more extreme case: “I respect your opinion/experience, but…”

Make sure your demeanor is not off-putting. If I’ve understood you corrently, you seem to find this kind of situation to be intimidating, so you might want to pay particular attention to keeping your face and voice relaxed and pleasant when you express disagreement. If you do that and choose your words carefully and someone feels bothered, they’re the ones who are being unreasonable.

Mangetout posted a very interesting line of thought to pursue.

“Move aggressively, fight defensively.”

Get out there and say what you believe. Obviously, nothing’s stopping them! If they have the right to say, “This band sucks,” and you think otherwise, your opinion is every bit as valid as theirs is.

But…phrase it softly. “Well, I dunno, I’ve always kinda liked them.”

i.e., not, “Well, you’re wrong, then, aren’t you, chucklehead?”

One key is to use “I/me” sentences, instead of “you” sentences. “I like them” as opposed to “You’re being too harsh.” And have, “There’s no disputing tastes” ready as an all-purpose justification. Some people like anchovies on pizza; it’s up to the individual.

So is this to say, “basically just confuse the fuck out of them.” ?:smiley:

That’s a part of it, the whole demeanor factor. I am not out there to rub people the wrong way, but I feel that to be self honest I need to say what naturally flows out in the moment, body language and natural word usage intact. Any less and I feel it is a betrayal of self…

Perhaps that is a wrong view.

The other day I was disagreeing with something the sensei at the dojo was saying, and the look on my face would have been, “well that is a horrible, stupid idea,” and I know that would have been picked up. I am not there like I said to be off-putting, but at that time that is how it truly was linked up in my body-mind connection. I tried to look away and not have the look on my face but it sorta messed with me a little bit, and made me feel a little bit like I am pressured to not be myself. When I gave in to it, made me feel like I am bowing my head to an authority who doesn’t have the right to be the authority in the situation (or at least the idea that I have no right to disagree or show disagreement, which I think I should be allowed).

I am not saying that the above is RIGHT and you all are wrong, but that is what I have been feeling when this sort of thing happens. I’m not saying I want to be a dick, but I don’t want to fake myself.

I saw something like that on TV. It’s a good reminder that this sort of thing is universal.
Yes, perhaps I don’t truly feel that I am among equals. Explaining the reasons why I think something might go well too.

Hmm, I’m not sure if this thing is conscious always, but I guess I fear being disapproved of, disliked, and possibly rejected, maybe made fun of and/or thought to be an ignorant person. If I felt completely secure in all those areas I suppose I wouldn’t care at all what I said, but something in me worries about that.
Plus I have had some pretty bad rejection experiences in the past, so those might be swimming around my subconscious.

That makes sense, our brains are telling us to survive in the group so you can survive in real life.
Yeah, I suppose I am important too. Being prepared to defend my opinion is a good idea.
The thing about ACTUALLY knowing what you’re talking about makes sense, at least at certain times and with subjects of study.
Thanks :slight_smile:

Mmm I seem to have missed the boat with this one… was the idea to be vaguely threatening? Not sure if you were joking.

Oh yeah, I also don’t want to give an opinion that crushes someone’s dreams, or be unnecessarily cynical. I had a bad experience with this awhile back, the look of crushed self-esteem is horrible (I didn’t want to deal with someone at the moment and so left when they entered where I was. They took it as a huge insult to themselves and ran away crying. This was unexpected; I checked on them and they were crying with a horrible look on their face: “I think you broke my self esteem.” It was horrible. That may have traumatized me.)

Also, I think it’s relevant to note: as far as me saying what naturally flows out, here is where I am coming from. I have read a translation of the Tao-Te-Ching, and one of the passages in it says something similar to: “The snowgoose need not change it’s white feathers to be beautiful, it is already beautiful.” In other words, you are already enough as you are. Snowgeese truly DON’T need to do anything to be awesome. Nor does any animal in my opinion, and I feel that likely holds true for humans. If I don’t need to change myself and still have beauty, then why should I alter what is my natural wording which is more me then anything else?

Also, there are certain individuals with enough charisma to get away with anything (saying anything pretty much). I feel therefore it’s something else rather than what is being said which would rub people the wrong way, and I feel it would therefore be alright to say most things I just lack the relevant charisma. So I feel like I should be “allowed” to say whatever it is that I want (apart from cases like insulting people randomly on the street).

It’s sorta like someone who would have 10 posts on a thread of 20 . . .