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"We are very different": how to answer people using that line against you

You probably heard this one in your life.

You and someone else disagreed, or you and someone else see things very differently, and they slap with you a:

You and I, we are very different

Or, if it's in public:

Lucio and I are very different


Saying "we see things differently" is a mild rapport break and a mild power move.

But saying "we are so different" is a huge rapport break.

They are taking the distance from you, not just what you said.

That can be quite offensive. Why would anyone want to put so much distance from someone else?
You're not a leper.

Saying "we are so different" is a refusal to recognize your shared humanity

They might disagree with what you said. But taking the distance from the person is potentially nasty

It may sound neutral. after all "different" doesn't imply better or worse or who is better or worse.
But, more often than not, it's a value-taking power move.

People don't usually tend to remove power from themselves, so what they're actually saying is:

We're different -and I'm better

Or, at least:

We're different, and I disagree / don't like your way of thinking / behaving

This is especially true if the sentence comes after a disagreement, and after you spot some annoyance on their side.
Then it's most certainly a power move, and with a hint of a judge as well.

So, how do you deal with this social power move?

Dealing With "We Are Very Different"

As a hidden power move, you can't react angrily or too offended.

If you do, you send the message they are getting under your skin.

And if you push back too obviously, it's too easy for them to say "I was just referring to our opinions man, take it easy, we happen to have very different opinions, no need to get so all worked up and aggressive about it".

Here are a few more effective techniques:

  • Ignore it

When you are completely at a loss of ideas, go with the most basic frame control technique: ignore it.
Don't disagree, don't confirm, let them have their power move, and ignore.

Ideally, try to look superior.

Maybe a slight smile, as if to say "yeah, we do are different indeed".

  • Add a touch of nonverbal disapproval  to look superior

As they say their piece, corrugate your eyebrow to nonverbally communicate your disapproval.

You want to communicate something like: "that was unnecessary", which in turn shows superiority.

  • Confirm it / exaggerate it

When it's your turn to speak, or after they have finished speaking, you can add:

You: We do disagree indeed. As a matter of fact, I can't imagine anyone else I disagree more with (notice you didn't repeat the exact words. You don't wanna descend at their level, and you also avoid copying them too much)

You can use this one when you are taking obviously opposite sides of an argument.
For example, you are discussing with a known super-conservative and you are a super-liberal.

This also works well when you see the person accusing you of being morally bankrupt (ie.: extremists, embracing bellicose attitude towards people, religious jihadists, etc.).
Then by all means, go for this one: you do want to put as much distance from them and you as possible.

The problem with this approach is that since they moved first in taking the distance from you, you will be reacting to their frame, which gives them slightly more power.
So you will need to rebalance later.

By never look overreactive, or you communicate that they got under your skin.

  • Shame them for their move, make room for collaborative frames

I like this option a lot.

If you have gone through Power University, you saw variations of this move for intimate relationships. You can indeed use shaming to re-frame the relationship as win-win, reminding your partner that you are for win-win, and that win-win is the only possible way.

So it works like this:

Them: We are so obviously so different
You: (Pause, look down, make it a show you are slightly hurt: this is good vulnerability within a powerful frame)
(now look at them in the eyes, you had your moment to find your words, now you're back in charge to make your point) You are saying that we are very different.
I don't know why you say that (implies they were abusing of competitive frames) but, frankly, I don't see it as we being "so different" (use your hand to make a "quotation mark hand gestures", which highlights it was a dickhead move).
I think we see things differently on this topic, but there is a ton of things I agree with you.
(leave it at that for now, you made your point that you don't see this as a "you against them", now see if they step back and accept your more collaborative frame)

  • Shame them, look superior taking the high road

If they say that "you are so different" publicly, you should take it a bit more seriously since they were probably trying to acquire status at your detriment.

So you could say something like this:

Him: Totally nonsense. I couldn't disagree more. Me and you, we are so different
You: (smile slightly, then look at the audience, not at him, as if to say "what a little game-playing punk") Well, Matt says we are "so" different (make quotation mark gesture with your hands). I don't know why he says that, maybe he doesn't like me (here you are calling out his power move). It's true we see it differently on this issue (you show that you are not taking step back on your opinion, you simply refuse to follow him and get personal). But I still respect him and his opinion.
(leave it there, see if he takes a step back and if he accepts your olive branch and says the same back. If he doens't, you still called his game out and still stuck to your original opinion)

John Freeman, Social_Strategist#1 and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
John FreemanSocial_Strategist#1BelGrigorio
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Good stuff.

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