Name-Calling: Confrontation Fails to Bring Dialogue and Resolution

Arin N. Reeves
September 2014

Confrontation fails to bring dialogue, fails to bring resolution

I had a language-arts teacher in high school who abhorred adjectives. One of her oft-quoted principles of excellent writing (attributed to Voltaire) was, “Adjectives are the enemy of the substantive.”

She would often scribble this quote on top of graded assignments as a simple explanation for a less-than-stellar grade. To this day, I consciously track how many adjectives I’m using, even though I have a great fondness for using lots of adjectives in my writing.

There is no doubt that adjectives are seen by many as having merely supporting roles in language constructions where nouns are the lead players. However, when it comes to active inclusion, changing particular nouns into adjectives can allow for a change in the way that those nouns, as nouns, just cannot do. This is especially true when we deal with the -ists in our vocabulary when discussing differences.

Think Smarter. Lead Better.

  • Difference of opinion is helpful in religion.

    Thomas Jefferson
  • Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth.

    Theodore Roosevelt
  • Honest difference of views and honest debate are not disunity.They are the vital process of policy among free men.

    Herbert Hoover
  • Controversial' as we all know, is often a euphemism for 'interesting and intelligent.

    Kevin Smith
  • Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

    Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.

    Charles Evan Hughes
  • There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity.

    Michel de Montaigne
  • Honest difference of views and honest debate are not disunity. They are the vital process of policy among free men.

    Herbert Hoover
  • It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.

    Albert Einstein
  • Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.

    Isaac Asimov
  • Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.

    Mikhail Gorbachev
  • To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.

    Tony Robbins
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

    Stephen R. Covey
  • In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.

    Audre Lorde
  • Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.

    Malcolm Forbes
  • Wit lies in recognizing the resemblance among things which differ and the difference between things which are alike.

    Madame De Stael
  • The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation -- or a relationship.

    Deborah Tannen
  • One must even beware of too much certainty that the answer to life's problems can only be found in one way and that all must agree to search for light in the same way and cannot find it in any other way.

    Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

    Stephen R. Covey
  • Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.

    Walter Lippmann
  • Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.

    James Surowiecki
  • Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs.

    Leo Tolstoy
  • The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • I not only use all the brains that I have, but all I can borrow.

    Woodrow Wilson
  • Differences challenge assumptions.

    Anne Wilson Schaef
  • The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.

    Albert Einstein
  • Diversity creates dimension in the world.

    Elizabeth Ann Lawless
  • America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.

    Louis D. Brandeis
  • Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.

    Mahatma Gandhi