Abhinandan Chatterjee

Senior Consultant - L&D, I Train Consultants (I) Pvt.Ltd

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Are you a conformist or a non conformist?

Definition: Conformity - Doing things the way it is defined by perceived limitations - Social, physical, mental or executional.

Non-Confirmity - The ability to take risk and go beyond the defined, allowed or the traditionally possible - based on being driven and on belief.

Non-Conformity is often perceived as REBEL, rebel is looked at as something that is wrong. I want to share that Non-conformity does not have to be wrong. While there are mostly examples of it that hog limelight for negative reasons; it is a life changing idea for the good. If we intend it to be that way.

My life has been divided between being a conformist and a non-conformist. I still don't have the answer but I am sure that people not willing to conform to things ought to get the due respect and a proper platform for it now.However, it is important that the means and intention are absolutely humane for this different person. Otherwise - there will just be more of the negative examples.

If you feel like digging deeper into it, I spoke about this at a recent TEDx; you can see that at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBLCWg37R6Q

Are you a conformist or a non-conformist? It will be great if you could suggest some examples of non-conformity that did good for the world.

Answers appreciated.

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    Apr 8 2012: I'm both because I conform to non conformity and I'm a non conformist to conformity.
  • Mar 29 2012: I realize that there is an exception or two in every scenario, however I still fail to see how conformity in any capacity improves a situation. Cooperation and mutual agreement reached from a logical conclusion, certainly, though not conformity. Non-conformity seems potentially problematic if it doesn't come with a specific, logical reason.

    Seems wisest to try to ignore what everyone else is doing in the first place, decide what seems best, then see what others thought and how your conclusion and the standards fit together. From there, determine which conclusion has a better foundation or if they're a match.

    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw.
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    Mar 9 2012: As a young metalhead, I've always been a part of a culture which is inherently 'non-conformist'. But metal is a philosophical culture and rarely do individuals within the culture use those words. As you said, 'non-conformist' has always been synonymous with 'rebel', and a common criticism is that by being a rebellious metalhead or punk in the spirit of non-conformity, one is indeed becoming a conformist by conforming to the standards of their social group.

    I've always said "I'm not a non-conformist, I just conform to a better standard". Which is presumptuous, but as good a description as any.

    But you present an interesting definition. A metalhead is a conformist... He is limited by his moral restrictions. We don't hate color, but we do hate wasteful fashion. Because of this, we don't wear most kinds of clothing. We come to resent fashion. It's seen as conformity to the metal fashion standards (and for some it is, we're a varied culture with many different ideologies) when for many it's a way of communicating a kind of band-preference by adorning the symbols of bands (and our bands tend to be variable in the same way; a band may help express your own personal ideologies or interests). Anti-religiousness or satanism is believed to be a common metal perspective, but there are huge religious metal cultures including Christianity, Islam and new-age spiritualism. Still, some metalheads -do- conform to decidedly atheistic, paganistic or satanistic views (usually this depends on region; Norwegian metalheads are more likely to be satanic then anyone else, for example).

    I would say I am a conformist and an non-conformist. I have personal limitations which are social, physical, mental or executional. I also prefer to challenge my pre-conceptions, change my opinions in light of good evidence and control my reactions in order to make better choices.
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      Mar 12 2012: Hi Spencer,

      Sorry for being so late in replying.

      I'm sailing on a similar boat as you. Again and again I keep reaching the conclusion that I am a mix of both too. Just trying to learn more.

      Thanks for your response. Cheers
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        Mar 12 2012: I'd like to think we're too obsessed with being 'the same' and being 'different' when we should all be less concerned with either, and instead, just try and 'be right'. There's no harm in conforming to a good standard. There's no harm in rebelling against a bad standard. It's bad to conform to an unhealthy standard and it's bad to rebel against positive standards.
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          Mar 13 2012: True That.

          Non-conformity is a lot more than a kool title. It is a mindset or an attitude and cant be chosen overnight.

          It is certainly more about belief and believing in the right. Thanks for your perspective.

          Cheers
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    Mar 9 2012: both
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    Mar 9 2012: I'm a non-conformist of the coming age of togetherness.

    Sorry i don't have examples but i'm sure others do.
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    Mar 9 2012: I agree that being non-conformist doesn't automatically imply being a rebel. You can be non-conformist related to your own life, without disrespecting conformity. I think conformity holds security, whereas non-conformity is... well, risky. For me, it depends on how much energy and courage I have -- sometimes, I enjoy acting in unusual ways, but I also enjoy the ability to 'blend in' and be safe.

    But I think being non-conformist is not really a big deal in industrialized western societies -- I mean, you won't ever risk your life by spraying graffiti on walls or making use of your freedom of speech... so it probably depends on the societal context you refer to.
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      Mar 11 2012: Thanks Simone.

      I would have to agree that I have received a very similar response from a lot of other people. Balance is great.
      Most of the times, I feel the examples are a little generalized. Non-conformity, in my opinion, is about the purpose of doing something rather than being an isolated event. All of us are conformists but does our purpose in life get defined by these standard testaments or do we have the courage to stand up for what we feel? ( In a humane manner of-course)
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    Mar 12 2012: Perhaps a bit of both is a optimal
    Conform with what is good
    Be a non conformist to avoid some of the stupid behaviours and traps of conformity - thinking for yourself
    Creating your own priorities
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      Mar 12 2012: Hi Obey,

      'Obey' is wht my friends call me too :)

      What you write is the best of what I have been able to come up as well. After all - everything does not have to be absolute!
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        Mar 16 2012: Agree.
        Also didn't mean to steel your nickname.
        We tend to shorten names or have short nick names here too.
        Best Regards
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    Mar 11 2012: in a society in which nonconformity is the norm, what should nonconformists do?
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      Mar 12 2012: Hi Krisztián,

      Great question. Let me try to answer,

      Non-conformity is the norm only because more and more people are beginning to believe themselves. That is what non conformists should do as well.

      If I try to be a non-conformist only to be one, for the sake of it, it is just a waste of time. What matters is if i learn from the non-conformist world and develop that learning into something of my own. Something that I believe in.

      To sum it up - 'Learn more to try more' That is what anyone should do, specially if he/she think of themselves as a non-conformist.

      Cheers
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      Mar 12 2012: Sure Solidus,

      It will be great to connect. You can spot me on FB as Abhinandan Chatterjee or post a link where I can connect with you.

      Cheers
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    Mar 11 2012: Conform to united world peace.
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    Mar 11 2012: I don't believe those words have any meaning. What is non-conformity other than conforming to an outlier already in the system? I spend a good deal of my time doing what people would normally expect, but when my boss asks me to come up with a new idea to solve a problem, am I a non-conformist? I don't think so.
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      Mar 11 2012: Thanks for your opinion.

      That's a good perspective. If it is the word that you disagree with you can name it differently - call it 'Blah' if you will. The thought behind the term is lot deeper.

      Let me ask you - Have you ever been in a situation where your boss sided by your idea, agreed and you started working on it. Midway, you realized, or should I say, believed; that this idea is not as great as you initially thought?

      What did you do in that situation. A: Managed your way because going back now ain't good for your career.
      B: Went back to your boss and said 'I was wrong'! - Because you did not believe in the idea anymore.

      These two kinds of people are either reasonable or driven by belief. Maybe both are right or necessary. Maybe being balanced is the answer - I don't know that. What I know is, the world cannot function without either kind.

      So, when your boss asks for a new idea, you come up with one, nobody agrees with it!, but you fight for it because you truly believe it - That is non-conformity. Cheers
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    Mar 10 2012: Some people use the term 'unconforming" as a third category. A conformist does things in a way people expect. A non-conformist likes to do things contrary to the way others in society as a whole, or in some reference set, do them. This, then, is the rebel.
    The unconformist, in contrast, is the person who pays no attention to how others may do things but goes his own course, which may sometimes turn out to be a course many people travel and other times entirely unique. It is not that he doesn't know how others do things. He just doesn't take the popularity of an approach into account in deciding on a path to follow.
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      Mar 11 2012: Unconformist - Learnt a new term. Thanks a lot!

      In principle I agree with you with what you feel about an unconformist's actions. That is what i meant by non-conformists.

      'Learn from everywhere, but do what you feel is right'

      Personally - If someone does things differently just to make it that way , it doesn't deserve a term of it's own.