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Subject: Reacting to anger rss

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Kelsey Rinella
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Beware: speculation!

I wonder whether meeting angry aggression with calm has some unrecognized bad effects. Here's my thinking: X gets angry at Y, and Y reacts calmly. This may help X calm down, and if X recognizes that it serves X's needs better to be calm, may be grateful to Y for helping out. But if X doesn't calm down, or regards himself as forced to calm down despite this not advancing X's goals, X will resent Y. The anger is, effectively, an assertion of power which Y has denied. If X's anger isn't threatening enough to Y to cause Y to become defensive, Y communicates to X that X is a weenie.

My speculation is that this is what's behind part of the accusation that liberals and/or the educated are smug. It's not that we never get mad, of course, but we generally react to initial expressions of hostility not by getting equally hostile back, but by trying to calm the situation down and request an explanation so we can understand. That urge to intellectualize the dispute meets a threat with indifference, or even welcome. But people don't want others to treat them like kittens who see themselves as deadly predators but who are actually just adorably nonthreatening. If someone says "FEAR ME!", a calm "Why?" is a disempowering reaction. Getting mad back at them shows them that you're actually threatened and feel your other coping mechanisms are inadequate to the task.

Also makes me wonder whether our existing methods of dealing with bullying may have some unfortunate long-term consequences involving would-be bullies feeling disrespected and resentful.
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You really forgot the green font. Unbelievable.
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rinelk wrote:
But if X doesn't calm down, or regards himself as forced to calm down despite this not advancing X's goals, X will resent Y. The anger is, effectively, an assertion of power which Y has denied.


That's not a behavior that reflects normal mental health. A special response team (whatever they're called) at a prison, for example, will communicate with each other by signals because the silence calms the offender (or whatever the fashionable term is these days). On the other hand I know of people who have similar behavior problems to the one you're describing because they have mental health issues.
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rinelk wrote:
My speculation is that this is what's behind part of the accusation that liberals and/or the educated are smug.



Eh, you're talking about people of a certain level of education. At least on RSP.
 
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Paul W
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I think the smugness is about condescension, not calm.
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Kelsey Rinella
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red black wrote:
rinelk wrote:
But if X doesn't calm down, or regards himself as forced to calm down despite this not advancing X's goals, X will resent Y. The anger is, effectively, an assertion of power which Y has denied.


That's not a behavior that reflects normal mental health. A special response team (whatever they're called) at a prison, for example, will communicate with each other by signals because the silence calms the offender (or whatever the fashionable term is these days). On the other hand I know of people who have similar behavior problems to the one you're describing because they have mental health issues.


Interesting! I wouldn't have thought so. For example, if you get mad a lot, and people focus on calming you down rather than dealing with your issue and see your most emphatic advancement of your point to be merely an annoyance to be turned off, that seems pretty crappy. I can understand finding it disempowering to be in a system which reacted to your escalations with de-escalation.

It would be like getting crappy service and being denied access to a supervisor--even if the manager doesn't do what you want, the mere fact that you're allowed to talk with one pays some respect to your status and the experience you've had. If the ONLY option for working on your issue involves using the mechanism which has already failed you, then even if that's still the option with the best expected value, the fact that it's failed you already seems like it's being treated as not worth addressing.
 
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rinelk wrote:
red black wrote:
rinelk wrote:
But if X doesn't calm down, or regards himself as forced to calm down despite this not advancing X's goals, X will resent Y. The anger is, effectively, an assertion of power which Y has denied.


That's not a behavior that reflects normal mental health. A special response team (whatever they're called) at a prison, for example, will communicate with each other by signals because the silence calms the offender (or whatever the fashionable term is these days). On the other hand I know of people who have similar behavior problems to the one you're describing because they have mental health issues.


Interesting! I wouldn't have thought so. For example, if you get mad a lot, and people focus on calming you down rather than dealing with your issue and see your most emphatic advancement of your point to be merely an annoyance to be turned off, that seems pretty crappy. I can understand finding it disempowering to be in a system which reacted to your escalations with de-escalation.

It would be like getting crappy service and being denied access to a supervisor--even if the manager doesn't do what you want, the mere fact that you're allowed to talk with one pays some respect to your status and the experience you've had. If the ONLY option for working on your issue involves using the mechanism which has already failed you, then even if that's still the option with the best expected value, the fact that it's failed you already seems like it's being treated as not worth addressing.


Yeah, and I'm pretty sure that remaining calm is part of CPI and MANDT training. (behavioral management)
 
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lotus dweller
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I'm thinking that a response to an angry person is better considered in terms of what outcome I am about.

If I'm after an opportunity to insert my boot into their arse at high speed then riling them up further while appearing an easy mark would be the way to go.

If my goal is to develop the relationship into a working one then I'd take a different approach - acknowledging their anger and seeking to communicate about it's source.

To the scenario in the OP: Yes I can see that there is a mismatch of expression of anger being replied to with a thought-based framework. And this is an avoidance of the angry person's framework. And this avoidance may be disrespectful, belittling or a power-play. Or the intention may be otherwise but the interpretation by the angry person may be something like this.

Which leads me back to having a goal when replying to an angry communication.

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Kelsey Rinella
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fizzmore wrote:
I think the smugness is about condescension, not calm.


I absolutely agree that's part of it, but what is condescension? It's treating people like you think you're better than them, right? But those with less education constantly act like they're better than those with more. That's what's been puzzling me. Poorly-educated people generally think doctors are quacks, lawyers are shysters, ivory-tower academics are worthless, and none of them can put all their book-learning against an ounce of the lived experience and practical know-how they have. So why is it that only the educated get accused of condescension?

And I think this might be part of it. Education tends to cause people to see anger as a pure negative. But, for thousands of years, it's had an important role in defending yourself and your family, and when people talk about having kids learn self-reliance in the face of bullies, what they're saying is often that it's still necessary. You sometimes need to be angrily violent to deter others. But liberals aren't generally comfortable with that at all, and they don't seem to have found any alternative use for anger. It's just this vestigial thing which we pay lip service to during a protest, but whenever someone at a protest actually acts mad, we oppose it. And I think there are a lot of folks who've learned that reacting to a severely bad situation with anger and at least threats of violence is the most productive option. By taking it off the table, we're essentially removing the only option they know for when things are at their worst.
 
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Kelsey Rinella
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red black wrote:
Yeah, and I'm pretty sure that remaining calm is part of CPI and MANDT training. (behavioral management)


That makes sense--for those circumstances, the focus is on preventing an immediate crisis. Calm seems like the most effective way to do that. But I think that's consistent with a festering frustration with a pattern of having your outbursts always met with such calming reactions. It treats the outburst, not the cause of it, as the thing authorities care about.
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I think people think liberals are smug because they're smug. That said it is far from a liberals only trait. Milo whatever the fuck is basically making a career of being a smug prick and that's true of about 90% of rightwing youtubers. It's 100% "here's my cherry picked quotes from liberals that quoted out of context make them look dumb" or "here's one person acting stupid, I guess everyone gay/black/feminist/liberal is stupid!"
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rinelk wrote:
red black wrote:
Yeah, and I'm pretty sure that remaining calm is part of CPI and MANDT training. (behavioral management)


... It treats the outburst, not the cause of it, as the thing authorities care about.
Making the decision about what forms of communication are worthy of investigation and which arejust incidents that need management is a powerful place to be.

Ask someone in hospital who gets handled without consent being sought and then protests. "Do you think so dear?", was the reply. Though it could have been criminal assault.
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rinelk wrote:
red black wrote:
Yeah, and I'm pretty sure that remaining calm is part of CPI and MANDT training. (behavioral management)


That makes sense--for those circumstances, the focus is on preventing an immediate crisis. Calm seems like the most effective way to do that. But I think that's consistent with a festering frustration with a pattern of having your outbursts always met with such calming reactions. It treats the outburst, not the cause of it, as the thing authorities care about.


Hmm, whatever is going on with a given individual I'm not convinced that a calming influence is going to be a trigger for an outburst. Sure, certain personalities clash in such a way as describe (think porthos and aramis) and in certain situations.
 
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rinelk wrote:
My speculation is that this is what's behind part of the accusation that liberals and/or the educated are smug.
Don't you have that backwards? Some liberals riot, and the police calmly haul thair a**es off to jail.
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Kaitlyn_Res wrote:
rinelk wrote:
My speculation is that this is what's behind part of the accusation that liberals and/or the educated are smug.
Don't you have that backwards? Some liberals riot, and the police calmly haul thair a**es off to jail.


People can be amazingly incurious for being so educated. whistle
 
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Of course pretending to be calm and really just playing games isn't going to work.

 
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rinelk wrote:
fizzmore wrote:
I think the smugness is about condescension, not calm.


I absolutely agree that's part of it, but what is condescension? It's treating people like you think you're better than them, right? But those with less education constantly act like they're better than those with more. That's what's been puzzling me. Poorly-educated people generally think doctors are quacks, lawyers are shysters, ivory-tower academics are worthless, and none of them can put all their book-learning against an ounce of the lived experience and practical know-how they have. So why is it that only the educated get accused of condescension?


There's far more to condescension than simple superiority (and I question your analysis on that front, anyway). It's the attitude that says "those poor hicks are voting against their own self-interest, but really we can't entirely hold it against them, they've been completely hoodwinked by corporate overlords that run the party."

It's that "we're superior, we know best, *and* we pity the opposition because they're so gullible they don't even see the trap they're in".
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Paul W
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Incidentally, this very analysis is rife with such smugness, where you're asserting that the people you disagree with are helpless slaves to their own emotions, unlike the calm and collected liberals who are clearly having their emotions take heel to reason. Honestly, this whole line of thought demonstrates a disappointing lack of self-awareness.
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fizzmore wrote:
rinelk wrote:
fizzmore wrote:
I think the smugness is about condescension, not calm.


I absolutely agree that's part of it, but what is condescension? It's treating people like you think you're better than them, right? But those with less education constantly act like they're better than those with more. That's what's been puzzling me. Poorly-educated people generally think doctors are quacks, lawyers are shysters, ivory-tower academics are worthless, and none of them can put all their book-learning against an ounce of the lived experience and practical know-how they have. So why is it that only the educated get accused of condescension?


There's far more to condescension than simple superiority (and I question your analysis on that front, anyway). It's the attitude that says "those poor hicks are voting against their own self-interest, but really we can't entirely hold it against them, they've been completely hoodwinked by corporate overlords that run the party."

It's that "we're superior, we know best, *and* we pity the opposition because they're so gullible they don't even see the trap they're in".


And how many of those educated people were able to see Trump coming.
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fizzmore wrote:


It's that "we're superior, we know best, *and* we pity the opposition because they're so gullible they don't even see the trap they're in".


So what youre saying is that they need a safe space and mild language.
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red black wrote:
Hmm, whatever is going on with a given individual I'm not convinced that a calming influence is going to be a trigger for an outburst. Sure, certain personalities clash in such a way as describe (think porthos and athos) and in certain situations.


No, it seems more likely to cause long-term resentment and feelings of disempowerment. People react to those in different ways.

Kaitlyn_Res wrote:
rinelk wrote:
My speculation is that this is what's behind part of the accusation that liberals and/or the educated are smug.
Don't you have that backwards? Some liberals riot, and the police calmly haul thair a**es off to jail.


Yeah, liberal/conservative crosscuts educated/uneducated, but my impression is that people don't usually accuse poorly-educated liberals of being smug, nor do they have the sort of resentment against them which they have against educated liberals.

fizzmore wrote:
rinelk wrote:
fizzmore wrote:
I think the smugness is about condescension, not calm.


I absolutely agree that's part of it, but what is condescension? It's treating people like you think you're better than them, right? But those with less education constantly act like they're better than those with more. That's what's been puzzling me. Poorly-educated people generally think doctors are quacks, lawyers are shysters, ivory-tower academics are worthless, and none of them can put all their book-learning against an ounce of the lived experience and practical know-how they have. So why is it that only the educated get accused of condescension?


There's far more to condescension than simple superiority (and I question your analysis on that front, anyway). It's the attitude that says "those poor hicks are voting against their own self-interest, but really we can't entirely hold it against them, they've been completely hoodwinked by corporate overlords that run the party."

It's that "we're superior, we know best, *and* we pity the opposition because they're so gullible they don't even see the trap they're in".


Can you explain what else you think there is to smugness than superiority in a way which doesn't assume it's educated liberals who are smug? Because I just looked it up, and I saw "having or showing excessive pride". But taking pride in "real America" seems pretty common among the less educated. I don't see why it's more smug to pity the hoodwinked than to see the so-called elites as universally corrupt and deceived (at great expense) about the nature of reality. What's the difference you think makes a difference there? Bonus question: need one be smug to work in marketing?

I don't think people are slaves to their emotions, I just think they have them. If I do something which gets me the result I want now but causes long-term resentment and feelings of powerlessness, it's still up to the person who feels that way to react to those feelings. But it's also open to me to try to predict those reactions and behave accordingly. I think people who deal with crises rarely spend a lot of time thinking about such longer-term consequences of their patterns of behavior.

If you think it's smugly lacking in self-awareness to advance the hypothesis that educated people like myself have been shortsighted out of hubris and inadequate concern for the feelings of those with less education than ourselves, okay. Would it be better to refuse to consider whether we were shortsighted and inadequately empathetic?

Here's another hypothesis on smug: might part of it be that the educated violate an expectation by taking a systems-level view? If everyone simply votes their own interests, then (assuming we're equally effective advocates and the system isn't rigged) our representatives will behave basically as they ought for the good of the country. So we know how to oppose someone we disagree with: just state our preferences. But if someone is arguing, not about what's best for them, but how we should all act, simply asserting your own interests doesn't seem like the right response. It's like changing the rules mid-game, and might seem frustrating and unfair, especially if it feels like they denied you an opportunity to contest their proposal effectively, but didn't take your concerns into account in making it.
 
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Are you talking in code, rinelk?
From some of the responses here it appears to me that the OP is being interpretted as being a coded discussion of those who voted for Trump
OP, is this the case?
 
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rinelk wrote:
Yeah, liberal/conservative crosscuts educated/uneducated, but my impression is that people don't usually accuse poorly-educated liberals of being smug, nor do they have the sort of resentment against them which they have against educated liberals.
My experience is that poorly-educated liberals aren't condescending.
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rinelk wrote:
I absolutely agree that's part of it, but what is condescension?


Poster 1 wrote:
I'm sure this is going to come off as a rant, and for that, I apologize.

First, a confession. Generally speaking, I'm just really not that into politics. I've always assumed that our elected officials are in the positions they are because voters saw potential in them, and that those officials represent the ideals, the values, and the vision of their constituents; namely, the voters. Sure, members of different political parties will have different views, but despite those different and often contradictory views, these are the people we elected into office, and it's their job to come to an accord, and do what is right for all Americans, regardless of political affiliation.

What I don't understand however, is how we've come to where we find ourselves now, where the spectacle of what happened last night can even be considered remotely acceptable. This is the best the United States has to offer? In a country of nearly 320 million people, these are the two individuals we're considering for the Presidency, and this is what a debate for that position looks like?

It's embarrassing. And seemingly worse are those who blindly support their candidate, defiant even in the face of logic and facts, refusing to accept any criticism about their candidate, claiming "media bias" or "brainwashing", or any other excuse presented to obscure the truth. I understand that people are afraid. Fear is a powerful motivator, I get that. But what I don't get is how despite one candidate very obviously playing off of people's fears, that racist, sexist, or otherwise prejudiced comments which have become the norm throughout the campaign are even considered remotely acceptable. This whole episode feels like some bizzaro world, where we've gone back in time 80 years when prejudice was acceptable.

It's frustrating. I just really don't understand how it's gotten this bad, and how embarrassing it is to see all of this transpiring as it happens. Maybe I thought, or just hoped that fear and hate wasn't as prevalent as it is in this country, but I suppose I was just mistaken. Either way, it must really be bad if we've come to accept this as "okay". Lying isn't okay. Racism, sexism, and prejudice isn't okay.

I just don't know anymore. /Sigh.


Poster 2 wrote:
Quote:
What I don't understand however, is how we've come to where we find ourselves now, where the spectacle of what happened last night can even be considered remotely acceptable. This is the best the United States has to offer?


Well, part of the reason you've found yourself where you are now is because you've decided to equate two very different people with very different levels of competency, which is just a dumb sort of thing to do. Hillary Clinton is not comparable to Donald Trump. She just isn't.

Like, "they're both equally bad" is the sort of facile thing people who don't know a lot about electoral politics say in order to convince themselves they know a lot: it's cynicism masquerading as knowledge.

(It's really comparable to that old saw about the Civil War: people who know very little about the Civil War say "it was about slavery." People who only know a little about the Civil War say "no, it was about states' rights." And people who know a lot about the Civil War say "no, it really, really was about slavery." People who say "both candidates are equally bad" are at that same middle step.)

There are plenty of rational reasons to dislike Hillary Clinton as a candidate for President of the United States, but they are intrinsically policy-based. You don't like her positions on X, Y and Z. You don't like how she handled issues A, B and C in her previous political career. But the thing about policy disagreements is that you have to recognize that plenty of people want the policies for which Hillary is advocating. There are plenty of people who like Hillary Clinton. Hell, I disagree with her on lots of issues - I think she's too hawkish by half on foreign policy and she really needs to be pushed out of neoliberalism on domestic issues more often than I would prefer - but I still like her well enough.

Hillary Clinton has her flaws, but at the end of the day she's just an experienced politician, and I say that not to dismiss her but as a statement of fact.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a bundle of superlatives, none of which are good. He is staggeringly bigoted, to the point where last night he was actively demanding to be credited for not banning minorities from one of his golf clubs. He is actively ignorant on practically every aspect of policy both foreign and domestic. He is wantonly and meaninglessly cruel as a matter of standard practice. His supposed saving grace is that he is a good businessman, but he has a history of business practice that is often outright parasitic of the common good, and he has also produced no real proof of his supposed good business. He lies nearly constantly, often about things easily disproven.

To pretend that these two are comparable figures is, bluntly, stupid. To say that they are both unpopular (which they are, overall) is to equate popularity with skill or worth, which is lazy thinking in almost every case and certainly is here.
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I tend to stay relatively calm in the face of anger, and calmly talking things out is my default setting. I realize there are people who are infuriated by this, but I don't think it has any relation to the political spectrum. I have plenty of far-left friends who get very angry about political things and then if you calmly disagree with them (or, heaven forfend, suggest that they be more calm) their ire only increases.

It may be true that some people don't like being dealt with calmly, but given that I think anger is oft poisonous, it doesn't seem reasonable to ask calm people to buy into the screaming. Calm and rational discourse needs to be the standard for conversation, because if everyone does it things work great, while if everyone is angrily yelling nothing is accomplished. This may discomfit some people, and I'm not saying that people don't have a right to their anger, but to ask their interlocutors not to be calm seems off-base to me (unless you're a paid therapist or something).
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