Goebel Gone Global: sometimes abstract discussions are not appropriate


If someone is telling you about a bad situation they’re in, or something they’re upset about, it’s probably not a good time to launch into an abstract discussion of something tangentially related.

For instance:

  • Jane: My coworkers keep hitting on me. It’s really getting…

Goebel Gone Global said:

If you think someone is upset in error and you understand them to be mature enough to handle the disagreement, it seems worthwhile to let them know and explain your reasoning.

daisydeadhead said:

Key word/concept is “reasoning”–root word, reason.  

Emotion (upset) is one side of the brain, while objectivity (reason) is another. When someone is upset/angry (one side of brain dominant) and you try to appeal to reason (the other side), the emotional side becomes even angrier. They usually perceive this as taking the person’s side whom they are angry with, or as antagonistic to them.  

By bringing something back to ‘reason’–they experience this as therefore 'denying’ the emotion, because the two do not co-exist:  If you can be reasonable, you are by definition, not emotional, and vice versa.  

Explaining “reasoning” to an emotional person is regarded as highly inappropriate and people will often dislike you for it.    

realsocialskills said:

I think that depends heavily on the context and the people involved.

Some people in some circumstances primarily want sympathy and validation when they’re upset. Other people in other circumstances want help thinking through the situation.

I’ve talking about something very specific here - when people instead of responding to the situation someone’s actually in, treat it as an opportunity to have an abstract philosophical conversation.

I think doing that is almost always unwelcome, and so it’s important to be really careful about it.