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I've been a lurker for a while on this website, but today i had my first "real" problem.

Here's a bit of context : I've been working with this colleague of mine (lets call him bob) for over 3 years and have very good work relations with him (even outside work). Nothing really bad ever happened between us. Whilst we had a few disagreements in the past, we usually got along pretty well. Until today.

We were sitting at the same launch table chit-chatting casually until someone mentions "God, i can't wait to start having some good BBQ this weekend". We start talking about recipes and then we get into a touchy subject : Vegans.

Note that bob has a vegan girlfriend and that we're 3 disagreeing with him at this point, where vegans have a right to request that "meat (or meat juice) shouldn't touch my veggies / tofu / etc on the BBQ".

We get into an argument about how vegans are usually very picky and sometimes they make unreasonable demands, like not touching their own food, etc. He disagrees wholeheartedly then uses the argument that "look, you're allergic (i'm deadly allergic to peanuts / nuts / sea-food), if you're allowed to make demands so that they avoid touching your own food, vegans should have the right to do that, too!".

I quickly point him out that 1) My allergies are very severe and that if i ever eat something that contains them, i will die, not just be upset that about it and 2) I will usually avoid eating the same as everyone and will never impose myself upon others just because I have allergies. I will just order take-out and leave it at that.

This is where it escalates.

After 2 mins of back-and-fort, he gets pretty upset because we can't reach an agreement on the matter. He then raises his tone higher and higher by the minute. I lose my patience and say (this is my mistake) "Stop. We're not going to agree on this so just stop". He gets even more upset and start saying that i'm disrespecting him and that if i have a problem, we can go "talk about it somewhere else (fight?)". At this point, i start getting annoyed (not upset) and i say "what the hell, do you have a problem or something?). We exchange a few more words (can't recall) and since He's clearly mad i say "let's just agree to disagree, you're right, i'm wrong, whatever, and let's leave it at that". He says "Damn right i'm right" and we both parts on our ways.

Now, while i was probably not the most tactful about my words, his reaction took me off guard. a lot. Escalating for a fight over just a disagreement is what is ticking me off.

I was planing on waiting for the dust to settles and since i do not like conflicts at the work place, to simply go talk to him after work and say something like "We were both wrong, i'm sorry i got disrespected you etc etc".

Would this be the correct approach (along with never talking about that subject ever again)? I'm pretty sure he was just "tilted" and he losts his cool when we argued, but like i said, i'm unsure how to approach him about it. I honestly feel like he disrespected me too and that he should also apologize.

Is this the correct approach?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Retired Codger, Mister Positive, paparazzo, gnat, Chris E Jun 21 '17 at 19:52

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • May i ask why i got some downvotes? – zaedas98 Jun 21 '17 at 19:45
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    "We were both wrong" = you're still telling him he's wrong. Leave that part out. "He should also apologize" -- perhaps, but genuine apologies don't require anything from the recipient, so don't expect one (and certainly don't ask!). Hopefully he will accept the truce and reciprocate, but still, be prepared to be the bigger person in the worst case. – user812786 Jun 21 '17 at 22:27
  • Get a new friend or friends? If you do not want to bring the subject back up, then do not go looking for apologies. Quietly know that "Bob" is a rather opinionated person about certain topics thus is probably not a great person to have in-depth or philosophical discussions with. – B1313 Jun 22 '17 at 0:50
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    'vegans should have the right to do that, too!"....' After that you should have bowed out. – Brandin Jun 22 '17 at 8:30
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    As a personal note his request does not sound unreasonable to me. I honestly don't see the difficulty in keeping both foods apart. Lets say that instead of Vegan he would say he is a Buddhist, Hindi, or any other religion with a Vegetarian diet. Would you still disagree with it? How about a Jew or Muslim person wanting to keep their food apart from pork? Some of the comments here seem to imply you have some kind of moral high ground (because Vegans, right?!!). I think you had a heated debate with a friend who has responded badly (his fault). But that does not make you right (your fault). – armatita Jun 23 '17 at 11:13
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"Stop. We're not going to agree on this so just stop"

Okay, so you were heated. Breaking away was the right approach. But instead of telling him to stop, you could have just got up and left. That way, he would not get MORE defensive by way of you giving him an order.

Food choices are becoming as work-inappropriate as religion. "Vegan" is a touchy word! (Substitute it with Christian, Muslim, Democrat, Republican, or LGBT, and you get the same outcome).

If you are going to apologize, apologize for not getting up to leave. Don't expect anything from him, as he apparently felt quite strongly. And never, never get into such a conversation again - bite your lip; change the subject. "Oh my, how about those Lakers?" lol

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    What if the Lakers is a touchy subject too? – Brandin Jun 22 '17 at 8:33
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It is easy to get worked up about things that are important to us; that's part of being human after all.

When a conversation goes from friendly disagreement to a heated argument, there is no winning. You won't convince the other person, they will not convince you and no one is really listening to the other.

Here's what I suggest:

  • apologize for your part and own it, and
  • take steps to not get stuck in this position again

Apologize

"We were both wrong, i'm sorry i got disrespected you etc etc".

You're on the right track, but you've left a landmine here. Do not speak for the other person. What you're saying, in effect, is: "I was wrong, but YOU were wrong too!"

Try something like this: "I was wrong to get so argumentative and disrespectful. I'm truly sorry and I will work on not letting it happen again."

Note two things: 1) you own your part, 2) you're showing you're willing to improve.

Now, what about what he says?

What if he starts blasting you? Disagreeing? Telling you that you're a neanderthal meat moron?

Answer: do not escalate. Do not defend yourself, do not rebut. Remember that you're in a no-win situation and the way out is not to play. Listen to him, nod your head to show you're listening and then you say something like:

"I totally get how you're feeling and I'm really sorry for my part of it."

Done.

Avoid this situation

Here is what I do to extract myself from any such no-win situation. If the discussion has reached its dead end where no party will agree and tempers are rising, you only need say one word: "Okay"

Watch:

You're wrong! Meat (or meat juice) shouldn't touch my veggies on the BBQ!!!!

"Okay"

Another one:

if you're allowed to make demands so that they avoid touching your own food, vegans should have the right to do that, too!"

"Okay"

Change the subject, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, "oh shoot, I have a meeting in a few minutes", and so forth

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