Thursday, July 16, 2009

Milinazzo's Retort

I just got up early before work and gave a quick local scan of the blogs, which showed me that posted a transcript and video of a back-and-forth from Tuesday night's Council meeting between CC Kazanjian and CC Milinazzo. After Kazanjian called himself "ashamed" to be a colleague of Milinazzo, this was the latter's retort:

And I would also now, I would also like to thank Councilor Alan Kazanjian for saying what I really perceive to be one of the nicest things he’s said to me, that he’s ashamed that I’m his colleague because I really truly believe that he doesn’t have the best interest of the city as a city councilor and I think he’s proven that time and time again. So if he’s ashamed of me, I’ve proven my point of being a good city councilor. Thank you.

Besides being great political theater, I loved this because it hits at something important in either public or private debate. Somehow, somewhere, it became acceptable to dismiss ANY retort to anything someone says about you -- regardless of how true it is, how *constructive* it is, or whatever, as "defensive" or the respondent as "thin-skinned."

That obviously creates a major logical problem for people. It basically creates a "Heads you win, tails I lose" situation -- you can say anything you want about someone or something I admire, but the minute I disagree with what you're saying I can be dismissed as being "defensive" in a debate-ending sort of rhetorical flourish. Ditto for personal attacks -- you can beat me up all you want, but any comeback must automatically equal "thin skin." (I've noticed that the old playground taunt really is true, too -- the quickest to 'dish it' are ALWAYS the worst at 'taking it' -- just like the first people at work to complain about having their time wasted are always the ones with the least on their plate).

Anyway back to Milinazzo's response -- I thought it was awesome. He didn't raise his voice, his tone didn't go cold or hostile, and he ended with the words 'thank you.' No clipped phrases, no nervous voice inflections, or anything of the sort. He just basically said he'd use that type of opposition to define himself, did it with a smile, and moved on.

That seems like a great model for responding to personal attack. You address what's said, you do it with a smile, but all without showing any outward signs that your blood might be boiling.

Somewhere, someone is probably calling it 'defensive' or 'thin-skinned,' but why can't that be flipped back over to say that Kazanjian was being 'offensive' or 'thick-headed?'

No comments: