Ever heard that? Or, “Don’t give me that s****!”
There are lots of versions of these expressions. The thing they have in common is that the speaker has, to some extent at least, lost patience, or ‘lost it’ as we say now. These comments more or less stop all rational argument and are designed to intimidate the person on the other side of the discussion.
Lawyers are trained in the art of argument; proper argument involves putting different points of view and their merits up for rational decision by a court because the parties cannot reach a negotiated decision alone.. The procedure in court allows each party to have a chance to put their case, usually separately.
But the art of conversation and the art of argument have close resemblances. Each involves allowing others the time and opportunity to make their point. Each involves allowing others to contribute to the discussion. The stalwart that ‘loses it’ and expostulates in barely civil terms will lose his audience and the argument pretty well immediately. There is an old adage: He that loses his control first, loses the argument. (There is also an old Japanese adage: he who mentions the $ figure first, loses the bargain, but that is another discussion entirely!)
It pays to remain calm and controlled, even if you have to throw something at a wall later! There is no benefit in trying to extinguish the other side by outrageous comments designed to inflame and intimidate. Because there will always be someone smarter than you.
I recall, if you will forgive the rudeness of the words, a man married to a girlfriend of mine who used to disparage women in general, and my friend in particular. He liked to point out on occasions when she was mistaken, by saying crassly, “See, no balls, no brains”
I took exception to the comment of course but decided not to engage him immediately. I waited. He made some stupid comment later that was so inept everyone recognised his stupidity. At that point I quietly remarked ” See, all balls and no brains”. He went to bed with his tail between his legs, figuratively speaking, of course.
The retelling of this story is not to enthral you with my wit and wisdom, of which I am not always proud, but to illustrate the point: if you sink low, lose it, or find yourself crying out loudly that you hate something, you may already have lost the point. And the point may be crucial…
Why, you may ask, is this important to me? Well, I am off this weekend to a conference about natural hormones. I have a sympathetic group of GPs that I work with (thankfully) but there are others that choose to show scorn about the work I do with hormones. If you attend general medical conferences you may hear doctors, some of considerable seniority, who use throw-away lines like ” Oh please, not that rubbish!”.
These comments tell me several things; that they have a closed mind, that there is no room for exploration of rational points to consider, that there are other factors (money or recognition?) that lie behind the fear of perhaps having to accept there may be merit….. God forbid… in something they so far know nothing about.
Most doctors learn from their senior colleagues. To show and espouse some new fact that runs against the accepted knowledge, one has to be brave, and resilient. But it is a fact of life that teachers cannot teach that which they do not know. To explore beyond the known or accepted boundaries one has to be both persistent, detailed in research and, yes, brave. But if you are up against establishment opinions there are things you must think through, mainly with your Most Private Self.
Am I bucking the trend ’cause I’m an outsider anyway?
Do I have Authority Issues? (A question only the 20/21st century would ask!)
Is there really something in this, or am I just greedy for fame, money etc etc?
But what if there IS some really important thing that women need in this area? Should I stop doing this work simply because The Establishment think I’m off my tree? No, I firmly believe I am doing good work. And the world wide research shows this to be true.
Which makes it all the more difficult to tolerate irreverent and rude comments like “What a load of rubbish”. So many comments like this come from others with vested interests ($$$) or fear of losing status. After all, Galileo told the world the earth was round and was excommunicated. He wasn’t right just because he was the underdog; he was right because he looked carefully and reached reasoned conclusions.
I know what this all means to me. But what does an irrational throw-away comment mean for you?
It means setting up an impenetrable bullet-proof barrier between you and the storming loser who is attacking your view. It means letting it go and staying calm. It means remembering that “He who loses it first, loses”. Keep to your path. Read Lao Tsu and The Art of War. Be calm. He who loses it first, LOSES. (Hooray!)….celebrate later. With me.