Inoffensive: not objectionable or harmful
I believe I am an inoffensive individual. I probably put more effort than I should into worrying over whether something I’ve said or done is considered inoffensive. It’s the people-pleaser part of my personality. But I also believe it’s an important quality to have the spectrum of characteristics in your personality. It ultimately boils down to how you want to live your life and be perceived as others.
I approach life as a singularity in that my life is mine alone to choose how I behave and want to be perceived; however, the moment I choose to interact with another person, be it acquaintance, friend or family, I have a responsibility to meet that person half way in our mutual respect for one another. To meet that objective, I make a conscious choice to have a baseline of friendliness that I can increase or decrease, depending on the connection I feel at that moment both in general and with that individual. I’m alert to the tone I use in all situations. Being inoffensive is an essential component of that baseline. It isn’t something I turn on when I’m around certain people or in certain places. I may be more careful to the sensitivity level I’m projecting, but even at it’s base form, it’s still fairly high as a normal stance.
What exactly do I mean here? I’ve made conscious decisions not to discuss certain things with people whom I do not know well enough: money, religion, politics. I do not know what someone else believes or fears, so rather than create friction, I choose to navigate away from anything that might be controversial. Occasionally testing the waters in the right situations or under certain circumstances might be possible, but it is rare. Some people call this bland and boring, being too safe for your own good. Almost too “politically correct.” I call it being inoffensive. It’s not that I lack passion, but rather than have a discussion about something where we are going to say something dissenting, I’d rather spend my time being productive and finding things in common.
Sometimes I take it too far; I acknowledge this issue. When I read a book about slavery, I find myself careful with the words I choose, so as not to offend anyone by coming across in the wrong manner. I worry if I’ve put enough emotion into saying how awful the entire time period was. Similarly with any sort of bias against an ethnicity, race, gender or sexual orientation. I worry if I use the word “Black” or “African-American.” I second-guess if I make an assumption to say “he” or “she,” when someone may not identify either way. In the end, I know this is pushing the “inoffensive” dial a little too far, but it is something embedded in my personality — to ensure I have a connection with everyone and don’t unnecessarily hurt someone in any way, shape or form. I prefer to be inclusive rather than exclusive.
For argument’s sake, let’s try to look at the other side. If you don’t stir up a little trouble, don’t push the envelope a little further, sometimes change does not happen. Often other people can be too sensitive when you mean no harm. If you have no bad intentions, why worry about what words you choose? I had this conversation with the significant other in a taxi on our way downtown the other day. We were discussing our various Facebook feeds, where family and friends were expressing their political views. Neither of us have ever or would ever post something political, nor share our views on such a topic in that manner. We both felt it was way too pushy, direct and repetitive. We both agreed those folks were being a little offensive, questioning why anyone would choose to spend their time focusing on it when they could talk about a movie, a book, or a fun memory. Why purposely throw content out that will ultimately create friction or disagreement? My only response, besides some people are just built differently, was that in order to stimulate change, sometimes you have to build a little fire. If no one steps up and says something is wrong, maybe nothing will get done about it. Or if you focus too carefully on every individual word choice and tone, nothing moves forward.
In the end, I’m trying to understand this perspective, but it’s innate in me to just behave, be polite and not to stir up controversy, whether over something trivial or something huge. It’s not that I want to rely on others to fix the problems, it’s that I struggle to understand why someone would choose to do something wrong, bad or offensive in the first place, hence why I often don’t feel that overwhelming intensity to try to course-correct it. I believe it should be fixed, but I ultimately don’t know how because my mind just thinks of the positive and collaborative, rather than the dissenting.
Anyone out there who just says what’s on their mind and doesn’t care what others think? I’m curious how people choose these different types of behaviors, either overly politically correct, in the middle or unabashedly direct. Not throwing shade in any direction. I’m definitely on the highly-sensitive-to-choosing-my-words-and-actions spectrum (for myself) while more tolerable for others methods, but I’ve got bunches of people in my life that are very direct and don’t care what you think. Always curious to see where people fall on this one.
About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”
I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.
The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.
Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.