aloof

They say that the person most likely to win the fight is the person who has the least to lose. I have never been in a physical altercation that was anything beyond sparring or joking – so I cannot tell you the effectiveness of this “mad dog” approach from experience being actually in the arena – but I can talk about my fighting experience as it applies to human-human coordination (discussions, arguments, battles over ideas of sorts).

An aside that perhaps modeling the whole thing as a fight anchors me in the wrong direction. But I think you get the purpose of the analogy – there are perhaps other ways to model “discussions” (ones that look at it more of a 1+1==3), I think they can be valid AND (yesAND) what comes below can also be true) – to say that you can think of human-human negotiations of sorts as battles, a jockeying of sorts between two or more players, each trying to earn an amount of capital from the engagement (an amount of capital that exceeds the cost side of the equation).

I get that this is a fairly unalive/lame way of looking at discussions. I do not mean to over think them (though, I of course am) — but I do mean to add flavor/texture to the lens at which I (and perhaps you if you are reading this) I perceive these sorts of interactions.

There’s a negotiation strategy of sorts where you come to the battle as the mad dog. I describe it briefly above, but to add unacademic context, I am referring to the situation where you come to the table as the “crazy one.” Like you are so far off from the other person’s reality that anything you do is…well…bucketed into the dimension of you being you (playing by your own rules, playing your game, playing your character) that it’s not looked at under a “rational lens” but rather a reality distortion field lens.

You probably have been in these sorts of interactions before. With people who just seem…a bit off? Like they are mal-adjusted. They do not care. They are going to live their world. And that world is a bit different from the world you understand. And they honestly do not seem to have any genuine interest in merging worlds in your direction — in fact, the opposite, they are going to mold the world around themselves. They do not seem to be doing this in like an overly egotistical way (though it may appear that way), it is more that is just who they are. They are themselves. Fully. And any social cues from the outside world honestly are very unlikely to help them and if anything will slow them down to some extent.

This style — this approach to being — is one I admire greatly. My dad is this way in many ways (not all ways) — to the extent that he is fully himself in most all environments I see him interact (I would say immigrants in general often exist this way in societies that they are not as accustomed to. They have a choice, especially early on (as they still have some flexibility) around what to conform into and what to remain themselves around. Some choose each bucket — but make no mistake that when you see someone authentic, themselves — a bit aloof from the status quo, you will get it).

I find this strategy — tested at the extremes of sorts — of being the wild one in the conversation actually comes with many advantages. More things can slide. Especially moderate things that would normally be debated. In juxtaposition to the wildness/extremity of the original prompt, people are generally okay with accepting the middle ground.

You have to do it authentically though. Otherwise your opponent will call your bluff. They will know it’s a show. They will know you do not believe in your ridiculousness. They know you do not know how to dance. They know you do not even belong on the dancefloor!

So if you go for being the wild card, own it. Be it. Be the person that everyone doesn’t understand. But who cares. You are you. And that’s what matters.

There’s almost a level of intentional ignorance that compounds over time. That like you stop caring. And you stop caring. And you stop caring about social norms to the extent that it’s not even a thing in your head. You are you.

I think I have some of that in me. And then I doubt it at times. I am told to not be that. I am told to reign it in. Tone it down. At that moment, I and you have a choice. Do we listen? Do we chill? Do we stop?

Or do we be ourselves?


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