"Human beings prefer the distraction of confrontation to the difficult effort of communicating openly and honestly" - Iris Murdoch. This quote is without any shred of doubt, so profound, and beautifully captures the dilemma, all of us face day in and day out. When differences emerge, we tend to take refuge in silence and indifference which in itself, is a way of confronting, a deadly one at it. For, nothing hurts a person as much as indifference does!
The more I think I know how to strike a balance in dealing with different kinds of people and their idiosyncrasies, the more they baffle me and leave me drained. Some people say they don't like what another person is doing quite upfront and they have a way of doing it that seems natural and in sync with their overall character and personality. To me, anything that can remotely hurt another person's sentiments has to be dealt with a lot of thought and diplomacy. It is true that in resorting to this approach, the moment of reckoning passes and it is too late to get your point across.
Inflexible viewpoints and rigidity - Oh, how I hate them!! To be able to categorically arrive at a conclusion one way or the other, armed with the swords of prejudice, selective perceptions, race and a stubborn refusal to peruse the issue at hand from the other person's viewpoint is, in my humble opinion, a recipe for alienating people. Having said that, if there is an acknowledgment of these flaws in a person, it is a welcome sign, a sign that there is scope for change.
A diverse group of nearly 300 students - now, in this group, I see all these kinds of people, those who are sensitive and tread with caution, those who are a little upfront, but with tact and finally those who don't care a hoot about the feelings of the other person and speak out brashly all the time. On contemplation, this is quite natural in a motley mix but when stress levels run high and the level of interaction is significant,tolerance becomes the victim. Any race, no matter what the context is, takes place at the cost of tolerance. Races, by default, are characterized by the presence of a goal that should be reached no matter what gets trampled on the way. This leads to shortsightedness and a blatant disregard for people who are built of gentler material - fragile, soft, tender with a "Handle with care" written across!