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April 20, 2005

Comments

Brian

Aww don't give in :( Speaking your mind is a virtue among today's conversations that tend to be superficial at best. I tend to be a mediator in personality, but I refuse not to speak my mind, particularly when asked my opinion. Even though I'm the peace keeper, people listen when I have something to say, and I've been accused of being aggressive -- which is usually people projecting on me, but that's social dynamics for you.

It seems you are not having the speedy acclimatization you anticipated, this is probably to be expected. It can be really challenging to completely abandon one social circle for another, even having Dan there won't make it a quick fix.

Take two weeks and try this out. Take two constructive weeks when you interact with Dan's friends. If you feel baited, respond. Do not hesitate to speak your mind. However, speaking your mind does not mean you are right or you are ignoring other points of view. Perhaps, given your post, when you speak your mind the New Yorkers are taking it as 'the only way you will think about things.' This is really common when we meet strong personalities before we build rapport. If they are going to cage you like this, work with their rules for a bit, see how it works: " Yeah, I think ... but you were saying ..." or "I'm not sure I understood where you are coming from ..."

If you want to take it to the next level try the social ques. Avoid phrases like, "you can't mean that," "are you serious?","Um, I didn't know someone could actually RATIONALIZE that." These are agressive and judgmental. Instead try feelers and clarifiers, "Wow, I hadn't though about it from that point, how would that work in ...", "That's a good point, I'm not sure I got what you meant by ..." "It's good to see someone else's view on this." Try some emotional words, "What was your response when that happened," "what did you feel about," "I've been talking a lot, how has this affected you?" "What was your first/gut response to that?" You've acknowledged and changed focus, while avoiding passing judgment (in part at least).

If you get stuck, revert to prior conversation pieces. This is classic 'I'm listening, but I don't want to talk about this,' social signal. You aren't avoiding per se, but you are giving out the signal,'dude, drop it, we clearly disagree on this and I don't know you well enough to argue.' If they pursue the issue be more obvious.

Staying in control of a social context will give you less of an agressive edge. You don't want to drive ALL the conversation, but just try to keep an eye on the conversational-ball as it were. Things may work a bit better after two weeks. I still suspect it's Dan's social circle and not you. Circles, inherently, are closed and uniform; it can take some intesive reconstruction to integrate new people.

~brian

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