Quiet Dissent

Sometimes when someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do, your instinct would be to not do it. However, in certain situations it might unnecessarily offend the person who asked you to do it, and you may not really enjoy fighting with him/her. On the other hand, doing it would be like simply listening to what that person said, and effectively inviting him/her to run you over (figuratively) at the next opportunity, so you would want to avoid that.

In such situations, I follow this policy of quiet dissent. I do whatever has been asked of me, but make it a point to register my dissent. I ensure that the person who has asked me to do the job knows that I didn’t like doing it; and by doing the job, I also try to communicate that I don’t mean any disrespect to the person who asked me to do the job, but that I’m opposed to that particular idea (me doing that job) of his/hers.

You might find it strange that the usually firebrand me is espousing moderate ideas such as this one, but I think I’m just being pragmatic, and I’ve found this technique to be quite useful in dealing with people you don’t want to piss off – because it’s not profitable for you to piss them off. Of course there is the chance that that person may not understand the subtlety of the action, and might interpret your voice of dissent as disrespect to them. I think if anyone thinks like that, they deserve the disrespect.

3 thoughts on “Quiet Dissent”

  1. There’s an old military policy that I sometimes follow which involves saying “Yes” but not actually doing the job. Of course, you have to pretend like you made the effort to do it but didn’t succeed. The reason that it came about it because in the army you can get insubordination (saying “no” to a commanding officer) can get you a court martial, but failing to succeed at a task is much smaller an offense.

    It normally works. Other times I just said “no”.

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