Audience participation post.

Which is superior: horribly offending some people in the process of strongly pleasing others or being neutral enough to avoid offending anyone but not making a lasting positive impression on anyone either?

Asking for a friend.

46 thoughts on “NPF: DILEMMA”

  • There are other options. Just saying. Yours offer a false choice. No one really grooves on the idea of being blandly neutral and utterly lacking flavor, but nobody believes they could possibly be offended by anything thoughtful / witty / hilarious. Only ridiculous oversensitive asses are offended.

    Everyone draws the humor line somewhere. Figure out where yours really is and stick up for it (until / unless something like logic or compassion changes your mind.)

  • Your question offends me.

    If your situation does not dictate the answer, you don't need an answer.
    Flip a damned coin.

  • The question (and it's up there with 'when did you stop beating your wife?') shows the poser to kind of manipulating bastard who ponders ways to fool most of the people most of the time and uses phrases like the 'greater good'.

    Alternatively, if the poser is just a shrinking flower with a personality problem, he should remember Polonius's advice, 'to thine own self be true' and grow some balls.

    Decent society has no need of such question(er)s.

  • Jeff Heikkinen says:

    I guess it depends on which people in the first option are which, but I'd strongly prefer the first in most cases. That said, there is something to the other comments questioning the question as well.

  • "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

  • Context matters. At work, the former might get you fired. Blogging, the former seems preferable, if the strong impression is created by your sincere views & not mere click bait.

  • I was going to say "Depends on the context, and you should figure out which contexts demand which," but Hazy Davy basically beat me to it, because your objective determines your strategy.

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    As a writer and comedian, your friend should err on the side of the first option.

    Setting is important, clearly. But even in unlikely scenarios…

    I had one ex whose parents didn't buy my excessive politeness and would still describe me as "ethnic." I had another whose dad became my friend after I told him a dick joke. Which do you think was the happier relationship?

  • This wasn't posed as a choice between the two lone options, just a question regarding which of the two is superior. With that in mind, I'd say it depends on the situation. If we're talking about sex, the former. Likewise, comedy, neighbourhood listserve posts, and salsa recipes. If we're talking about politics, the latter. Likewise, PTA meetings. Christmas cards, and mass market beers.

  • In social situations with new people, assuming there's no "cost" involved in them not liking me… I tend to be a somewhat exaggerated version of myself. My rationale is that if they find me offensive or don't like my sense of humor I'd rather find out right away so I can move on to other people, but if they can hang then I know it right away.

    Obviously this is good for meeting new people in a social situation and not so good for work-related things where you have to interact with these people on an ongoing basis regardless of whether or not you can get along with them.

  • Needs a lot more context. Stalin offended a lot of people and made a lasting impression. So did Abraham Lincoln. Context is everything.

  • "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." Haha, just kidding you aren't a member of society's elite with wealth based on stealing labor from your slaves.

    Seriously, if you aren't wealthy in money or talent always choose pleasing your overlords or not getting noticed by them.

  • If this is the question, then I'd say the superior approach is to be charming — that is, to leave many people with a good impression without offending any (although you may leave some of them suspicious of your true feelings and motives). Of course, being charming takes some level of inherent charisma that your friend must not possess, or they wouldn't be asking the question. I think that charm is also something that one can develop over time, but it takes insight and work, and you probably have to care a lot about what people think of you (that last bit is why I've never bothered much with it).

  • Guess it depends on the people your "friend" is trying to please and who he/she would offend. As in is it worth offending (and possibly hurting) those people to win the pleasure of the others?

    I had a boyfriend in college who once said to me after we argued and I said some very hurtful things: "the problem with words is that you cannot take them or their effect back. You can apologize, but the apology doesn't sink in as much as the hurtful words. You should consider what you say and whether you really want to permanently inflict that wound." I am happy to say that I learned something from his comment–but sorry to say he never did.

  • DropDeadOffred says:

    A third option: being respectful of those around you while maintaining whatever you believe in. Pleasing people is rarely the best reason to make any decision. You can be yourself without being an asshole; they aren't mutually exclusive for most people. Except for Phyllis Schlafly…what an asshole.

  • Duh. The first, if I'm one of those who would be strongly pleased, and the second, if the first would horribly offend me.

    I have other objective and disinterested judgements too, but I'm saving them for when I'm drunker. It's only lunchtime here.

  • Strongly pleasing others should never be an objective when expressing an opinion nor should the fear of horribly offending others ever be a deterrent.

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