Monday, January 23, 2006

Differences of opinion

I think this is a rant, but I'm not quite sure how it's going to turn out. So if you'll bear with me as I explore:

(the names and details may or may not have been changed to protect the innocent, or some such disclaimer)

Recently, someone (I'll call him Ray) who's opinion I hold in high regard read a book written by an author I adore. It was a book I listed as one of my favourite reads of 2005. I knew he was reading it. He knew I knew he was reading it. I even asked him to give me his opinion after he'd finished.

I know this can be problematic from the outset. I've been in similar situations. If you enjoy the recommended book there isn't a problem. You can get all gushy, gushy and compare notes about what you liked. However, if you hate it, you're left with how to explain your reaction without hurting the other person's feelings. Because, let's face it, we all get a bit emotionally invested in books that are important to us. But differing opinions are natural and can be discussed in a mature and honest way.

So, I was waiting and waiting for Ray's response. This wasn't like him. He's a voracious reader and he could have knocked this particular book off in a few days. Well, I thought, he's either too busy or he's struggling with it. I understood. So, onto the direct approach. I ask how's it going with the book? He responded with an opinion about the 'meaning' of the first chapter. He hadn't finished yet, so that was the end of the discussion.

I waited some more. Odd, I thought, he must have finished by now. Ray is usually a very forthright and opinionated person. Surely, he knew I could handle a differing opinion, if that was the case. Since the first chapter incident, I've lost contact with him.

A couple of days ago, I heard from another source that Ray had, indeed, finished the book. He didn't like it. He had good reasons why he didn't like it and had elaborated upon them in articulate detail. Hearing his reasons, I could come up with a few arguments to refute his opinions.

But, wait. He didn't speak to me about the book. I didn't have the chance to discuss it with him. Now, I'm left wondering if he knew I'd hear about his opinions in this oblique way. But maybe I'm just getting paranoid.

I'm annoyed, and maybe a little hurt, that a person I think highly of didn't have the courtesy of replying to my direct inquiry about something. It may seem petty. It probably is, but I'd rather people tell me directly that they don't agree rather than go behind my back to disagree. I'm a big girl. I can handle it.

Ultimately, I guess this post is not so much a rant as an expression of my disappointment. Disappointment that Ray couldn't have been uprfront with me and disappointment that I didn't get a chance to discuss the book with him.


Anonymous said...

i would be bothered by that too. i can handle a difference of opinion, what i don't like is being avoided.

can you mention what book?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I want to know what book too.

I'm the same way. What I also hate is when people get over defensive about their opinions, and what started out as a discussion turns into two people trying to talk over each other. I really hate that.

Something that also bothers me is when people can't tell you why or reason out why they feel a certain way. It's all over their face; they know it's just a knee-jerk reaction, and they just have a feeling, but faced with logic, their idea that seemed so strong at first has nothing supporting, but then, they continue to pester you for an hour with questions like, "Are you telling me that blah blah blah? Are you comparing blah blah blah?" They can only ask questions because they have nothing.

Okay, that was a bit of a rant.

Anonymous said...

Why not approach the subject again with him. Perhaps he just feels a little awkward because he did hot enjoy the book as you did. Always better to give someone the benifit of the doubt, I think.

Anonymous said...

Its much more a reflection on him than on you. Sounds like he wasn't up to the discussion! Feel your frustration and then let it go. In that way, if and when you do see him again, it won't get in the way of the new interaction.


Anonymous said...

Now that I've had a chance to vent, I think I'll just leave it at that.