The Beginning of The End
There are those individuals who pass through your life that were never really meant to be around other human beings. You know the type. Caustic, loud individuals who can make a room turn cold faster than an arctic storm. Interestingly they can be relatively attractive which is extremely disarming and also a very cynical and a cruel trick played by the man above. These individuals tend to be very knowledgeable in usually one subject but pretend to be experts in all.
I was at a small conference in a motel meeting room when one of these walked in. I had to give a short presentation so I positioned myself at a table near the podium. All the chairs at my table were occupied except one. The above referenced individual found that seat. We shook hands and made some small talk which turned into a more heated discussion on the subject matter of my presentation. I knew more about the subject matter, but of course he insisted I didn’t.
When my turn came to give my presentation I left my chair quickly and walked in front of the audience. I was using a power point presentation and the room lights were lowered for better viewing. My seating partner, I’ll call him Jim, let me walk through 5 or 6 points before he started to comment on my presentation. I always appreciate feed-back when I give a presentation as it keeps the audience engaged. Jim, however, was quick to tell me and the rest of the audience that my statements were not accurate and he told me why.
At first I was polite and told him I appreciated his position but my data was factual based on empirical data. Maybe Jim didn’t want to believe me or didn’t know what empirical meant. In any case, Jim went on and on eventually getting shouts from the audience to sit down and be quiet. Jim stopped talking but did not sit down. I looked at him and said, “Jim, just a second. I just remembered someone gave me a note to pass on to you should I see you at the conference.” I pulled a piece of paper out of my pocket, pretending it was the supposed note. I looked him straight in the eyes and read the words of the title of this blog. The audience erupted in laughter and they gave me a round of applause. Jim never said another word during the entire conference.
I’d Agree With You, But Then We’d Both Be Wrong
Years ago, when I was younger and the earth’s crust was still cooling, you could have a conversation with anyone about anything and the worst case scenario would be that you would “agree to disagree.” Today, it is difficult to find someone that will openly and objectively discuss most subjects. This is especially true when it comes to politics and religion. These two are some of the most divisive topics and often these debates turns into a shouting match. With politics you are either left or right, Democrat or Republican, patriot or pinhead…and I’m not sure about that last one.
When meeting someone for the first time and one of these subjects is mentioned I immediately recuse myself by saying, “I would prefer not to discuss this with you because I like open, objective conversation and it is difficult to do that with these subjects.” Sometimes that works, if it doesn’t then I tell them, “I’d agree with you but then we would both be wrong.” In truth, I would rather have a nice, objective discussion but those days seem to be in the past…