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Belief congruency vs emotional congruency [Apr. 6th, 2014|11:53 am]
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A while back I read this post. Short version: When people get into verbal fights, their styles can be roughly split into truth-shouters, who say the truths that they would normally hold back or find themselves unable to express, versus cutlery-loaders, who say all kinds of things that may or may not be true in order to blow off steam and get a reaction out of the other person* - in effect they just load whatever's handy into their cannons and then fire that off, hence the term. I think there might be a more useful way to reframe the concepts: Truth-shouters are aiming to make people know/believe the same things as them. Which is why when things get stressful, the uncomfortable facts start coming out. Cutlery-loaders on the other hand are aiming to make people feel the same things as them. Which is why when they're angry/upset, they'll say whatever they think will cause the other person to feel a similar emotion and often get even more upset if the other person doesn't take the bait, because it makes them feel like their emotions are being treated as invalid or overreaction.**

I can't help wondering whether these are more general interaction styles and are just a lot more obvious during arguments because those tendencies get blown up to several times their usual size.

* Obviously this is a bit of a simplification. Lots of people are not purely one or the other, there are probably styles that don't allow neat categorisations, etc. But I think it's still a useful abstraction

** It's probably obvious from my explanations that I'm a truth-shouter, hence my less-than-charitable description of cutlery-loaders.

The insight for this post came from a Facebook argument where I ended up being accused of acting as if the other person wasn't entitled to their emotions (which was my own fault really - I didn't share their outrage and instead jumped to objecting to part of the factual content of their post). During the ensuing exchange they then expressed a view that can be summarised as '[bad thing] happened to me, and I hope it starts happening to others so that the situation will be addressed before [worse thing] happens to me". After applying the principle of charity, this reads to me as "[bad thing] has caused me to worry about [worse thing], and I wish other people felt the same way as me because then they would take action to help avert the chances of [worse thing] happening". But on first reading, boy did that sentiment get my hackles up.


[User Picture]From: andrewducker
2014-04-06 04:53 pm (UTC)
That makes a lot of sense to me. I'm naturally a truth-shouter, and used to get very confused by cutlery-loaders too!
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