Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Raintree on October 04, 2012, 02:43:25 AM

Title: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Raintree on October 04, 2012, 02:43:25 AM
BG: My friend Annie moved out of town for a good job opportunity. She is trying to sell her place in Hometown. She came back to town for a few days recently. I was out of town for the first three days she was here; she didn't call, email, or text to say, "Hey, I'm in town" and I only knew she was in town because a mutual friend mentioned he was painting her place (the one up for sale) and because I saw her daughter post something on Facebook. I was busy, she was busy....I didn't think much about it.

Annie has her issues which tend to drive friends away (ie she complains about everyone behind their backs and nobody is immune) but it should be noted, she has also proven herself a kind person on more than one occasion, and she did offer to help me out a couple of times when I was in need (specifically, moving). I thanked her and almost took her up on her offer but in the end the timing didn't work out and I had enough help from others anyway. Also, I've done things for her, ie pro bono work that is something I do for a living, so it's not as though I just take.[/end BG]

On one of the last days she was here, Mutual Friend called up and asked if I wanted to meet him and Annie for a quick bite somewhere as they were going to take a break from painting. I said, "Sure, I'd like to see Annie while she's here." This call came through at 6 PM and I met them at 8 PM.

After we'd finished eating (9 PM), everyone seemed ready to leave and I was ready to call it a night (and I still had obligations at home). I asked something like, "So, everyone just going home now?" Mutual Friend said, "Ya, unless you wanna come help paint!!" It was said in a jovial kind of way so I laughed it off and said, "No thanks, I hate painting!!" And we all parted company.

Later I wondered if that was kind of thoughtless of me, given that Annie had offered her help when I was stressed out with my own move, but honestly, at the time it never occurred to me to offer. I had not really considered it a serious request for help, given that it was 9 PM, last minute, and I do have other obligations.

But weeks later I found out second hand that Annie had been kind of offended at my "I hate painting" comment as "helping friends isn't about doing what you like."

I had already been wondering if my comment was rude....was it?

Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Iris on October 04, 2012, 03:07:22 AM
I don't think it was rude at all. Even if you had known it was a serious request you would have been well within your rights to refuse simply because you hate painting. Given that you were laughing as you said it I would have thought it was obvious you weren't taking the request seriously. I would just chalk it up to Annie being stressed about the move and a little sensitive. Or decide that it's not true anyway, given that you got it second hand.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Amava on October 04, 2012, 04:05:23 AM
See it this way: if you had not said no, you might have been making a post here today that went:

"This friend called me up and invited me to come over to have something to eat. Then they pulled a bait-and-switch on me and talked me into helping them paint! It was evening and I was tired and I still had things to do, but I didn't dare to say no. How can I handle this better next time, e-hellions?"

And we would tell you: "Next time, just say no. Don't JADE, don't give big explanations, just say no."

I'm glad you said no. Friendship might not always be about doing things we like, but it also isn't about springing last-minute requests on people and taking their willingness and availability to help for granted.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Reika on October 04, 2012, 04:40:24 AM
I think asking someone to help paint at 9 at night after dinner (and what sounds like a work night) without prior notice is pretty rude. You did just fine, Raintree. :)
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on October 04, 2012, 05:36:21 AM
I agree. I love painting, but you definitely need to be ready to do that kind of thing, as in ratty clothes and some energy and it doesn't sound like you had either on hand.  Were they expecting you to paint in whatever you arrived to dinner in?
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Outdoor Girl on October 04, 2012, 08:41:54 AM
If you want me to help you paint, ask me to help you paint.  Don't invite me to meet for dinner then casually mention me coming over to help paint.  And 9:00 pm?  I'm never going to say yes, anyway, even if it was a weekend.  That's my get wound down, ready for bed time.

Raintree, you were fine.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: JenJay on October 04, 2012, 08:54:43 AM
See it this way: if you had not said no, you might have been making a post here today that went:

"This friend called me up and invited me to come over to have something to eat. Then they pulled a bait-and-switch on me and talked me into helping them paint! It was evening and I was tired and I still had things to do, but I didn't dare to say no. How can I handle this better next time, e-hellions?"

And we would tell you: "Next time, just say no. Don't JADE, don't give big explanations, just say no."

I'm glad you said no. Friendship might not always be about doing things we like, but it also isn't about springing last-minute requests on people and taking their willingness and availability to help for granted.

Exactly!

You weren't rude to decline their request but she was rude to have gossiped about it and painted you as the bad guy. (See what I did there?  :P)
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: SuperMartianRobotGirl on October 04, 2012, 09:36:38 AM
I agree with Amava. If it was a serious request, it was way out of line to claim they wanted to meet to eat when really they wanted to manipulate people into working (late, on a work night) with them. You were fine to say no. If you'd known it was a serious request, you might have said no more gently, but I don't think it's a big deal. It's understandable that you thought it was a joke.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: O'Dell on October 04, 2012, 09:46:56 AM
But weeks later I found out second hand that Annie had been kind of offended at my "I hate painting" comment as "helping friends isn't about doing what you like."

If that's really what she said, then I think she was offended by your reason for not wanting to help out. If you had said you had obligations at home or being short notice didn't work for you (not dressed for it), you might have been fine. But your stated reason implies that you pick and choose to help people based on how much you like the activity rather than if you can help your friend or not.

So yeah I can see why she'd be insulted. And I don't think JADEing is an issue here unless she's known to be someone who tramples boundaries when asking for help.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: hjaye on October 04, 2012, 09:55:06 AM

Annie has her issues which tend to drive friends away (ie she complains about everyone behind their backs and nobody is immune)

I think this sums it up.  What Annie said was just a typical comment for doing something she is already known for, talking about friends behind their back.  You weren't thinking about when you said it, but I guess you could say you dropped the ball and she picked it up and ran with it.  I don't think you did anything wrong.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Winterlight on October 04, 2012, 10:26:51 AM
She thought you should help paint at 9pm on a work night. With no prior notice. And she's mad that you didn't want to.

Annie fails logic. 
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Girlie on October 04, 2012, 10:27:34 AM

Annie has her issues which tend to drive friends away (ie she complains about everyone behind their backs and nobody is immune)

I think this sums it up.  What Annie said was just a typical comment for doing something she is already known for, talking about friends behind their back.  You weren't thinking about when you said it, but I guess you could say you dropped the ball and she picked it up and ran with it.  I don't think you did anything wrong.

I have to agree. I have an older sister who does this, and I can pretty much guarantee that no answer would have been the right one. Had you agreed to do it, there probably would have been some comment about your showing up to paint in dinner clothes or some such nonsense.

Honestly, if you know your friend is like that and you're willing to look over it, then I would recommend just learning to let things like this go.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: amylouky on October 04, 2012, 10:27:55 AM
But weeks later I found out second hand that Annie had been kind of offended at my "I hate painting" comment as "helping friends isn't about doing what you like."

If that's really what she said, then I think she was offended by your reason for not wanting to help out. If you had said you had obligations at home or being short notice didn't work for you (not dressed for it), you might have been fine. But your stated reason implies that you pick and choose to help people based on how much you like the activity rather than if you can help your friend or not.

So yeah I can see why she'd be insulted. And I don't think JADEing is an issue here unless she's known to be someone who tramples boundaries when asking for help.

I agree with this. I think you were fine for refusing the request, and I actually don't think it WAS a serious request. I think that the "I hate painting" is what offended Annie.. it implies you'll only help if it's something you like doing. If I were Annie, I'd be thinking, "well, I didn't LOVE helping you move, but I did it because we're friends and you needed the help."
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: amylouky on October 04, 2012, 10:29:42 AM
She thought you should help paint at 9pm on a work night. With no prior notice. And she's mad that you didn't want to.

Annie fails logic.

But, Annie's not the one who suggested the painting, it was Mutual Friend. I don't think it was a bait and switch, or a serious request. I think it was a joking comment and they would have been fine if you'd said no for another reason.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Giggity on October 04, 2012, 10:40:59 AM
Why would it be rude to treat what you think is a joke as if it's a joke?
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Betelnut on October 04, 2012, 10:46:57 AM
But weeks later I found out second hand that Annie had been kind of offended at my "I hate painting" comment as "helping friends isn't about doing what you like."

If that's really what she said, then I think she was offended by your reason for not wanting to help out. If you had said you had obligations at home or being short notice didn't work for you (not dressed for it), you might have been fine. But your stated reason implies that you pick and choose to help people based on how much you like the activity rather than if you can help your friend or not.

So yeah I can see why she'd be insulted. And I don't think JADEing is an issue here unless she's known to be someone who tramples boundaries when asking for help.

I agree with this. I think you were fine for refusing the request, and I actually don't think it WAS a serious request. I think that the "I hate painting" is what offended Annie.. it implies you'll only help if it's something you like doing. If I were Annie, I'd be thinking, "well, I didn't LOVE helping you move, but I did it because we're friends and you needed the help."

This exactly.  Annie wasn't upset about the refusal to paint but why she refused.  I think the request was a joke but maybe Annie would have felt better if the OP had said, "Oh, I can't tonight, LOL, but some other time maybe!"
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Shoo on October 04, 2012, 10:49:53 AM
But weeks later I found out second hand that Annie had been kind of offended at my "I hate painting" comment as "helping friends isn't about doing what you like."

If that's really what she said, then I think she was offended by your reason for not wanting to help out. If you had said you had obligations at home or being short notice didn't work for you (not dressed for it), you might have been fine. But your stated reason implies that you pick and choose to help people based on how much you like the activity rather than if you can help your friend or not.

So yeah I can see why she'd be insulted. And I don't think JADEing is an issue here unless she's known to be someone who tramples boundaries when asking for help.

I agree with this. I think you were fine for refusing the request, and I actually don't think it WAS a serious request. I think that the "I hate painting" is what offended Annie.. it implies you'll only help if it's something you like doing. If I were Annie, I'd be thinking, "well, I didn't LOVE helping you move, but I did it because we're friends and you needed the help."

Annie didn't actually help the OP move. 
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Girlie on October 04, 2012, 10:54:39 AM
Am I the only person who thinks hating to paint is a valid reason to refuse to help? At 9:00pm? After dinner?

It's not like the OP said she would NEVER help paint. Her response was basically "No, not now, I hate painting." At least, that's how it came across to me. She said it the way she said it because she didn't think anything else of it.

I personally think Annie was just looking for something to talk about. 
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: SingActDance on October 04, 2012, 11:26:01 AM
POD others who say it wasn't your refusal, it was your wording. It makes it sound as if you would have helped if it was an activity you enjoyed. Especially since you asked, "Is everyone just going home now?" That, to me, sounds like you would have been up for doing something else. Next time just go with, "I wish I could help, but it's late and I have stuff to do at home."
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Virg on October 04, 2012, 11:37:19 AM
The error in logic here is in the concept of "request".  There was no request for help.  There was an offhand comment about painting (not even made by Annie herself), but Annie didn't make any reasonable attempt at requesting help, so she has no room to expect anyone to take her seriously.  If she wanted help, the reasonable approach would be to ask for it, not get irritated when Raintree didn't infer the meaning of a secondhand comment the way she wanted.

Girlie wrote:

"Am I the only person who thinks hating to paint is a valid reason to refuse to help? At 9:00pm? After dinner?"

I see the reason as a red herring, because the underlying issue is that Raintree didn't realize that there was any serious request for help.  That fault falls to Annie (and in part to Mutual Friend) because she got upset over an issue she created by not asking directly.

SingActDance wrote:

"POD others who say it wasn't your refusal, it was your wording."

I find myself thinking that it was the non-request that created the wording that offended, so it's not the wording that's at the heart of the offense.  If Annie had asked seriously, I'd bet that Raintree's wording would have been different, ranging from "OK, I'll help" to "I'm sorry, but I can't due to my other commitments" so the whole concept of hating painting would not have entered the discussion.  If Raintree has to spend her time vetting her wording for every offhand joke so that it can't be interpreted seriously and cause offense, then I'd say it's time to back off the friendship.

Virg
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: violinp on October 04, 2012, 11:50:18 AM
Am I the only person who thinks hating to paint is a valid reason to refuse to help? At 9:00pm? After dinner?

It's not like the OP said she would NEVER help paint. Her response was basically "No, not now, I hate painting." At least, that's how it came across to me. She said it the way she said it because she didn't think anything else of it.

I personally think Annie was just looking for something to talk about.

This. I love to paint, but I'm not gonna make a night of it.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: still in va on October 04, 2012, 11:55:39 AM
Am I the only person who thinks hating to paint is a valid reason to refuse to help? At 9:00pm? After dinner?

It's not like the OP said she would NEVER help paint. Her response was basically "No, not now, I hate painting." At least, that's how it came across to me. She said it the way she said it because she didn't think anything else of it.

I personally think Annie was just looking for something to talk about.

This. I love to paint, but I'm not gonna make a night of it.

and i'm not going to start painting at 9 PM, after a full day.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: violinp on October 04, 2012, 11:57:40 AM
Am I the only person who thinks hating to paint is a valid reason to refuse to help? At 9:00pm? After dinner?

It's not like the OP said she would NEVER help paint. Her response was basically "No, not now, I hate painting." At least, that's how it came across to me. She said it the way she said it because she didn't think anything else of it.

I personally think Annie was just looking for something to talk about.

This. I love to paint, but I'm not gonna make a night of it.

and i'm not going to start painting at 9 PM, after a full day.

That too. I'd be too exhausted to do a good job.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: hobish on October 04, 2012, 11:58:51 AM
Am I the only person who thinks hating to paint is a valid reason to refuse to help? At 9:00pm? After dinner?

It's not like the OP said she would NEVER help paint. Her response was basically "No, not now, I hate painting." At least, that's how it came across to me. She said it the way she said it because she didn't think anything else of it.

I personally think Annie was just looking for something to talk about.

This. Picking on the wording of a response that was meant as a reply to something that was not thought to be serious is just nitpicky. If this is Annie's normal MO it sounds like she was looking for something to complain about.

Girlie, if i didn't know better i would wonder if we were related. My sister is like that, too. I love her and even like her; but dang being around her is downright tiring sometimes.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: SingActDance on October 04, 2012, 12:01:26 PM
The error in logic here is in the concept of "request".  There was no request for help.  There was an offhand comment about painting (not even made by Annie herself), but Annie didn't make any reasonable attempt at requesting help, so she has no room to expect anyone to take her seriously.  If she wanted help, the reasonable approach would be to ask for it, not get irritated when Raintree didn't infer the meaning of a secondhand comment the way she wanted.

Girlie wrote:

"Am I the only person who thinks hating to paint is a valid reason to refuse to help? At 9:00pm? After dinner?"

I see the reason as a red herring, because the underlying issue is that Raintree didn't realize that there was any serious request for help.  That fault falls to Annie (and in part to Mutual Friend) because she got upset over an issue she created by not asking directly.

SingActDance wrote:

"POD others who say it wasn't your refusal, it was your wording."

I find myself thinking that it was the non-request that created the wording that offended, so it's not the wording that's at the heart of the offense.  If Annie had asked seriously, I'd bet that Raintree's wording would have been different, ranging from "OK, I'll help" to "I'm sorry, but I can't due to my other commitments" so the whole concept of hating painting would not have entered the discussion.  If Raintree has to spend her time vetting her wording for every offhand joke so that it can't be interpreted seriously and cause offense, then I'd say it's time to back off the friendship.

Virg

Again, I really don't think it was a serious request. I don't think Annie expected the OP to help at all. But when she heard the response, it might have stung a bit. Imagine you were out with a friend for dinner and afterward you said, "So, is everyone just going home now?" Your friend responds, "Yeah, I guess so. Unless you want to come help me put my fussy child to bed. Haha!" Would responding, "No thanks, I hate kids" be the best response? I think that "Ooooh, well as appealing as that sounds, I've got an appointment with my Stephen King novel. LOL." would be better.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: camlan on October 04, 2012, 12:06:48 PM
The wording of the reply/refusal wasn't offensive.

Annie chose to take offense at it.

Really, if we have to watch what we say so closely, even at the end of a long day, with friends, that we can't just come out and say "I hate painting," then I'm just going to stop talking. One should not have to think and rethink every sentence spoken on the off chance that someone's not going to like exactly what one says and how one says it.

Maybe the OP might have been able to phrase her refusal in a nicer way, but I know that by 9 pm I'm fading fast and I'm tired and therefore not quick to think of the absolute bestest way to phrase things. What the OP said was not rude or mean. And it doesn't sound as if she said it in a rude or mean way. Is there a requirement out that that we never, ever say anything that might possibly upset anyone at any time?

Annie is being a bit precious, here.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: SingActDance on October 04, 2012, 12:10:27 PM
The wording of the reply/refusal wasn't offensive.

Annie chose to take offense at it.

Really, if we have to watch what we say so closely, even at the end of a long day, with friends, that we can't just come out and say "I hate painting," then I'm just going to stop talking. One should not have to think and rethink every sentence spoken on the off chance that someone's not going to like exactly what one says and how one says it.

Maybe the OP might have been able to phrase her refusal in a nicer way, but I know that by 9 pm I'm fading fast and I'm tired and therefore not quick to think of the absolute bestest way to phrase things. What the OP said was not rude or mean. And it doesn't sound as if she said it in a rude or mean way. Is there a requirement out that that we never, ever say anything that might possibly upset anyone at any time?

Annie is being a bit precious, here.

I pretty much agree. I'm not saying that the OP was rude at all. Just that I can see where offense might have been taken, and that there was probably a better way to decline. Annie can be offended, but it would be silly to hang onto that offense and let it affect the friendship.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: TootsNYC on October 04, 2012, 12:11:09 PM
But weeks later I found out second hand that Annie had been kind of offended at my "I hate painting" comment as "helping friends isn't about doing what you like."

If that's really what she said, then I think she was offended by your reason for not wanting to help out. If you had said you had obligations at home or being short notice didn't work for you (not dressed for it), you might have been fine. But your stated reason implies that you pick and choose to help people based on how much you like the activity rather than if you can help your friend or not.

So yeah I can see why she'd be insulted. And I don't think JADEing is an issue here unless she's known to be someone who tramples boundaries when asking for help.

I think I'm with O'Dell. If you'd said, "no, I wish I could help, but I've got to get home," you wouldn't have the issue.

Now, I don't think Annie is right to get all terribly bent out of shape about it. But I can see why it might hit her wrong.

It's 9pm for HER too, and she's been painting, etc., all day. And so SHE is going to react more strongly than normal. Cut her some slack.

And really, all the REST of the people Annie knows need to stop repeating all the gossip she says, because THAT is making it worse.

In fact, I'm wondering how seriously p.o.'d/offended Annie is. Maybe this is not a terribly big deal to her, but that it did hit her wrong. And now OTHER people are running around repeating it to you, as if it IS a big honking deal.

For all you know, this was a casual observation--I can see me making it to someone, in a "wow, I felt upset and couldn't figure out why, but now I have, and that wording really hit wrong" way. And never in a million years imagining that the person I'm musing to would run around and tell other people--let alone tell the person I am *momentarily* and *minorly* miffed at.

Since when did people forget the idea that you don't REPEAT gossip to people?

Let it lie. Let it be a small thing. Pretend you never heard it.

You were fine--I'm sure none of them were really asking you to help paint, and your joking response was not all that rude. It just happened to hit wrong in a small way.

Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Betelnut on October 04, 2012, 12:35:37 PM
The wording of the reply/refusal wasn't offensive.

Annie chose to take offense at it.

Really, if we have to watch what we say so closely, even at the end of a long day, with friends, that we can't just come out and say "I hate painting," then I'm just going to stop talking. One should not have to think and rethink every sentence spoken on the off chance that someone's not going to like exactly what one says and how one says it.

Maybe the OP might have been able to phrase her refusal in a nicer way, but I know that by 9 pm I'm fading fast and I'm tired and therefore not quick to think of the absolute bestest way to phrase things. What the OP said was not rude or mean. And it doesn't sound as if she said it in a rude or mean way. Is there a requirement out that that we never, ever say anything that might possibly upset anyone at any time?

Annie is being a bit precious, here.

Oh, I agree even though I was one of the posters who said that what the OP said is the issue.  I agree that it is ridiculous to have to worry about every statement coming out of your mouth hurting someone's feelings.  Annie is definitely too thinned skinned.

I was simply commenting on the fact that it wasn't the refusal to paint that hurt Annie's feelings, it was how it was refused.  That's Annie's problem though, not the OP's!
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: BeagleMommy on October 04, 2012, 01:08:31 PM
OP, I don't think you were rude, but I also agree with Twik that you're getting second-hand knowledge of Annie's reaction.  I think it might be best to let it pass.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Onyx_TKD on October 04, 2012, 01:39:00 PM
I think this may be a similar miscommunication to the "request disguised as a question" topic that's being discussed in another thread.

The OP's friend said jokingly that they were going to head home "unless you wanna come help paint." I think this question could be interpreted in several different ways:

Personally, I think the literal interpretation of the question makes the most sense, given the joking context and timing. The OP had been given no indication that her help with painting was needed or desired; it was late; the situation was not one where the OP would be prepared to go paint even if she wanted to, and the context indicated that everyone was about to head home unless the OP "wanted to help paint." I would interpret that as saying "Yeah, we're done for the night. Unless you're just dying to get out there and paint--you can if you really, really want to.  :)" Instead, Annie seems to* have taken the answer as a response to interpretations 2 or 3, i.e. declining to help her, rather than denying a burning desire to paint at 9pm. There are obviously people used to phrasing requests in the "do you want to" format, so I see how she could feel a little hurt if that's the way she understood the conversation, but IMO she should recognize that the OP gave a perfectly reasonable answer to the literal question asked.

*"seems to" because of the second-hand account of her reaction.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: FauxFoodist on October 04, 2012, 02:05:07 PM
I think asking someone to help paint at 9 at night after dinner (and what sounds like a work night) without prior notice is pretty rude. You did just fine, Raintree. :)

I don't think asking someone as an aside to help paint at 9 at night after dinner without prior notice is rude.  However, I think not only expecting the answer to be yes AND getting offended when the person says, lightheartedly, "No, I hate doing that" is pretty SS and rude.

The time to ask would've been when she got the invite for dinner, not just as they were parting ways after dinner.
Title: Re: I declined to help...but I didn't realize it was a serious request
Post by: Bijou on October 04, 2012, 03:00:09 PM
I would have taken it as a joke, too.  Knowing Annie is a person who talks behind her friends' backs, I wouldn't give her complaining about it to others a second thought.  Now, I would wonder about someone who felt they had to tell me she was talking about me behind my back.

I'm the world's worst painter and my husband has to go over what I do most of the time so that would be why I would always decline to help someone paint.