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Abort, Retry, Ignore?

When someone does something that you don’t quite agree with, the options you have remind me of the old MS-DOS disk-read error message:

Abort, Retry, Ignore?

Do you walk off, try to make them understand or look the other way?

Lets consider each option:

  1. Abort Breaking up on encountering simple disagreements might produce out of you a grumpy old man yelling “Get off my lawn!” or a bitchy hag with nine cats who the children are terrified of. This may not be in the interest of your long term happiness. Some times you may not even have an option of breaking up, like if you are the mother of a difficult teen.

  2. Retry What starts off as a constructive criticism can quickly escalate to a bitter fight and irreversible damage. This is more likely if you or the recipient of your criticism lacks the tact to contain disagreements and has the tendency to let things snowball. At the very least, it will ruin your day. You may think that your are only helping the person by trying to expand their perspective, but even if it works, it is usually a thankless job. There are few things as emotionally draining as a thankless job.

  3. Ignore Ignore is what you do when you are inert. This could be your personality trait or this could have been forced upon you. One example of forced inertia is a bad marriage that has to continue for the sake of kids. A good guy with a bitchy wife and three young kids loads up on hamburgers and prays for a heart attack.
Now I think I understand why there are many single introverts, why some couples that seem to fight a lot are actually happy and why parents are likely to be unhappy. Road trips with friends are more enjoyable than with family because we don’t try to manage friends and they don’t try to manage us either.

I think this strategy might work:

  • Don’t try to improve others (exceptions: kid / pet)
  • Develop higher tolerance.
  • Mention your point in a friendly manner - just once.
  • Take a lot of time to commit.
  • Walk off if hopeless.
To summarize: First ignore, then retry a little bit, then abort.

And remember, preservation of sanity trumps pursuit of happiness.

I had disagreements with multiple people today, and I responded with ‘Retry’ each time, which only led to unpleasant results. Most people can deal with this instinctively, but I had to think it through. Writing helps me think without going in circles.

What do you think?

2 comments
orsenthil wrote on Dec 01, 2007:
I remember this thought from Linus, wherein he says. "Any one who has designed a security system acknowledges that it is designed based on the concept of trust". Apply the same to human relations and try to analyze the situation. Sometimes it helps. It helps me. If the trust is not there, then you will have to play a different game (sometimes not play at all), than if the trust is there.
yes, I agree with most of your thoughts in your post.
With respect to marriage related things, I think, the reciprocity theory holds good than, and if two trust each other, then it can be worked out ( instead of just for kids sake thing)
maniosai wrote on Dec 05, 2007:
must be you were really pissed off ha ha :)

1)Don't try to improve others (exceptions: kid / pet)
2)Develop higher tolerance.
3)Mention your point in a friendly manner - just once.
4)Take a lot of time to commit.
5)Walk off if hopeless.

I don't agree with your point two if developing higher tolerance - it is said that tolerance is same as indifference. That doesn't do ourself any good either.

"PRESERVATION OF SANITY TRUMPS PURSTUIT OF HAPPINESS" this should be etched in stone and put up in every city gate.