The disadvantage of verbal contentiousness

   Many people in the math department seem to develop a lack of humor, in the sense that they take things rather seriously and give trivial people or statements ultimate contempt. I know student A in my own department who seems to get rather offended by anything that runs counter to his own personal idealogy. When I mention something that extrapolates to the supernaturality, he would react violently as if I have taken away one of his ten amendment rights. I have wondered how he could possibly function in the group of people surrounding him. Or maybe he simply saw me as particularly unpleasant since many of my ways of thinking have either never occurred to him or makes him feel insecure about his own sphere of existence. But he is not alone in that respect. Another supposedly genteel colleague of mine developed a similar zombie like syndrome when discussing matters within his domain of knowledge. The intolerance of different perspective seems to run amock in these folks and they have the indecency to splash it in the form of vicious insult. Maybe they felt that having becoming the chosen ones they have the alienable right to authoritate themselves, and have found the lawful pretext to remove the layer of insulation between what’s on their minds and what should come out of their pie-holes. In any event, I am truly impressed how they managed to get around in the department without incurring some physical damage.
   On the other hand I have two lessons to learn from such petty day-to-day encounter. First I must desensitize myself from the purported or inadvertent verbal abuse, mainly to not be deterred by inconsequential people and discourses. Secondly I should steer myself away from their unseemly examples and try not to argue whenever I could help. Argumentation can really hurt feeling between the conversation exchangers. It’s also in most cases unnecessary. The damage done by a corrective statement can usually more than offset the correction value originally meant. I think I started becoming verbally picky and unforgiving when I started getting detained by older professors who would filibuster me for hours, without reaching a topic of my true seeking. So in order to upgrade my courage of verbal interruption, I started to analyze counterparties’ sentences out loud in an attempt to train myself in the direction of critical thinking and unflinching honestness. Had I realized that unpublicized critical thinking could lead to a similar state of enlightenment, plus the additional advantage of low-profile personality, I would have given up earlier on and stuck with my intuitive approach to people business. And hopefully now it’s not too late to adjust back. Indeed, I have no other choice and the challenge it proposes is by all means a fun one.
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About aquazorcarson

math PhD at Stanford, studying probability
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