When should you express your disagreement versus ignoring the person?

I have a flat mate who is very bossy. He was telling me not to use the back door as it's only used for emergencies. He's not the landlord and he says these sorts of things often. I ignore him. I've tried talking with him before but it goes nowhere.

I was speaking with a friend who was complaining someone in a club he was part of was being bossy and telling people what to do. I told my friend just don't do what he's telling you to. My friend replied it would come off as passive aggressive and he cares about the club and respects the person even though he was being bossy. He rather argue with him.

So when is it a good idea to speak up and say you disagree with something as opposed to just ignoring it? (I ask this question assuming it's not work related and no money is involved)

closed as primarily opinion-based by gparyani, Ælis, Rainbacon, ElizB, sphennings May 6 at 0:06

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.

  • 1
    What is your location? It's entirely possible that your flat mate is right, if you're living in an apartment building with fire escapes that are meant to be used in emergencies. – nick012000 May 4 at 6:01
  • Well it is super imprecise to discuss doing or not doing something unknown in an unknown situation :-) – puck May 4 at 9:03
  • This is also very dependent on the capabilities one has to bring to bear in arguing. If your arguing skills are strictly limited to simple contradiction, the answer might be always ignore, If you're a national debating champion, the answer might be always discuss. For the vast majority of people, the answer lies somewhere in between, and will vary over time as your conversational skill changes. – Ed Grimm May 4 at 19:03
  • @nick012000 I know the difference between a door and fire escape... – user24249 May 23 at 5:40

I tend to weigh these options from a risk management and importance standpoint.

risk management:
ask yourself what are the potential risks that could come from ignoring the person. When the person is unknown to you and you have no interest in maintaining a relationship of any kind with them this risk is fairly low. On the other hand when you want to maintain a relationship, ignoring them can be risky to that relationship.

ask yourself how important is this dispute to me. When I find myself facing something that I don't have any particular feelings for I tend to choose the least risky option. When the issue in dispute is of higher importance this is when riskier options such as ignoring them or arguing become more viable.

Some last considerations for when to argue and when to ignore someone I think are important:
- how long do you need to interact with them?
- Are they an authority?
- How strong of a counter argument could you make?
- Does their argument have merit?

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