Author Topic: The flip side of commands disguised as a question  (Read 11444 times)

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Sophia

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2012, 02:57:40 PM »
I think the problem with your phrasing is that you are asking a Yes/No question and some variation of Yes is the only acceptable answer.  I would feel manipulated and disrespected and would probably answer No just for that reason.  Then in an hour I might do the dishes. 

If you'd said "How about ...?" AND was willing to accept No for an answer, then all would be good. 

SoCalVal

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2012, 02:59:28 PM »
I hate being told to do something under the guise that I'm being "asked" if I want to do something.  There are many people who I've run into that do things this way and often, they end up irritated because their questions haven't led to the desired response.

If it works with you and your husband, that's wonderful--but I wouldn't expect it to work that way with everyone.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with being direct and saying to someone "Could you please unload the dishwasher while I make lunch?" Or "I need some help.  Would you rather unload the dishwasher or make lunch?"

I do both of these with DF.  I don't understand asking in a roundabout manner.  Last night, I forgot to get something into the slow cooker, and it was already later than I had wanted to be home already so I said to DF, "We could have this ready to go in about 15 minutes.  Could you take care of the potatoes while I brown the roast?"  It never would've occurred to me to phrase it this way, "Would you like to take care of the potatoes while I brown the roast?"  I'm not asking to see if he wants to do something; I'm asking him for his assistance.  I don't see anything wrong with being direct.



Onyx_TKD

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2012, 03:05:52 PM »
I found the "commands disguised as a question" thread very interesting, because I'm usually on the other side.

I might say to my husband, "Do you want to empty the dishwasher while I make the lunches?"  I'm not asking if he has a burning desire to empty the dishwasher, because I'm not crazy.  There's a larger context to the discussion, which is that there are a bunch of things that need to be done, which we're both responsible for, but we're both equals here and I'm sort of trying to work out how we're going to do them, in a way that feels kind and acceptable to us both. 

"I'll do it later after I finish this thing" or "I'd rather make the lunches" are perfectly acceptable responses, but if he just said "No!" and stared at me, I'd definitely feel upset and wonder why he's picking a fight.

[snip]

I personally think that "do you want to" is a silly phrasing for an undesirable task that needs to be done. However, I also recognize the intent behind it (i.e., Task X needs to be done and the speaker would like me to do it). I usually wouldn't be bothered by being asked to do something in this manner...however I would expect a reply such as "No, but I'll do it anyway!" to be received with good humor. Ask a silly question (Do I want to clean the bathroom?), be ready to take a silly reply in good humor. If someone were to issue requests in this (IMO illogical) manner and get bent out of shape by a jokingly literal response, despite my acknowledging the underlying message, then I'd start getting irritated.

ETA: IOW, I don't object to other people phrasing requests in this manner, but I do not consider "Do you want to do X?" to be equivalent to "Would you do X?" and I would not appreciate someone insisting that I treat them as equivalent. I'm willing to tolerate the asker's quirk and respond to the spirit of the question ("Sure, I'll do X because someone needs to" or "This is why I can't/won't do X."), but in return I expect equal tolerance of my responding to the literal question if I choose to.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 03:13:53 PM by Onyx_TKD »

Piratelvr1121

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2012, 04:14:59 PM »
I think it'a all in the phrasing.  A mother would order her son, "Son, dishes now."  or "Son go and do the dishes now."


A wife reminding/telling her husband, "Husband, can you unload the fishes?" or "Husband, i am going to make lunch now, could you do the dishes or would you rather make lunch and I do the dishes?"


There is a huge difference.  I too hate the telling disguised as a question. I much prefer to be direct and kind than vague.

With my sons I say "The dishes need to be done, boys.  Would you rather do it before or after your homework's done?"  So they have a choice as to when, but they will be doing it.  I know better than to ask them if they want to do the dishes.  Heck, I hate doing the dishes. If I could hire Rosie from The Jetsons to do it I would, but alas that's not a choice.  Nor can I wiggle my nose or blink and nod or wave a wand to get it done. If someone asked me if I wanted to do the dishes I'd laugh and say "No, not really."  Or "Are you asking me or telling me?"

I'll even say to DH "Would you please take care of dinner? I'm real tired/busy with the kids."
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

bonyk

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2012, 09:34:41 PM »
Honestly I think this is very similar to why many couples get into so much trouble.  Instead of telling each other, honestly and openly about what they need or expect, they either try to phrase it as the other person's choice or expect them to just guess.  It doesn't work.  Being direct is not the same as being rude.

Agree with this.  DH has a habit of asking, "Do you want me to. . .", instead of, "Do you mind if I. . .".  Compounding this, I am a very literal person.  It's taken me almost 7 years to crack this code!  (But honestly, why would I want you to go out for beers with your friends?  I don't care if you do, but I don't want you to do it.)

Ceallach

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2012, 10:13:47 PM »
I think it'a all in the phrasing.  A mother would order her son, "Son, dishes now."  or "Son go and do the dishes now."


A wife reminding/telling her husband, "Husband, can you unload the fishes?" or "Husband, i am going to make lunch now, could you do the dishes or would you rather make lunch and I do the dishes?"


There is a huge difference.  I too hate the telling disguised as a question. I much prefer to be direct and kind than vague.

With my sons I say "The dishes need to be done, boys.  Would you rather do it before or after your homework's done?"  So they have a choice as to when, but they will be doing it.  I know better than to ask them if they want to do the dishes.  Heck, I hate doing the dishes. If I could hire Rosie from The Jetsons to do it I would, but alas that's not a choice.  Nor can I wiggle my nose or blink and nod or wave a wand to get it done. If someone asked me if I wanted to do the dishes I'd laugh and say "No, not really."  Or "Are you asking me or telling me?"

I'll even say to DH "Would you please take care of dinner? I'm real tired/busy with the kids."

I agree.    My parents never barked orders at us (such as "Son go do the dishes!") although I guess they might phrase it that way if we had been rude and said we weren't going to do it (which just didn't happen!).   The expectation was set upfront, and then reinforced either through options or polite requests.     They also would never have said "do you want to" because we were a particularly pedantic bunch of kids - it is 100% certain they would have got a response along the lines of "Well no I don't want to do it!"   ;D   Between us kids we did all of the dishes, most of the laundry, dusting/vacuuming, and also took turns cooking dinner.  It was definitely an expectation, but I don't think I was ever ordered to do any of it.

Funnily enough I was thinking of this very topic yesterday (before this thread), because I said to DH "Honey, when you did the dishes you didn't wipe down the benches.  Could you please do those before we go to bed?  It might sound simple, but this is an extraordinary situation for us.  We just moved into a new house and I've suddenly turned into super-nester and am determined to be "all over" the housework.   So something I'd never have noticed before was suddenly a new expectation that I was setting.   And then immediately afterwards I wondered if I'd turned into a nag or if that was a normal spousal request.     DH was surprised, but clarified what I wanted and went and did it.   I'm going to monitor myself closely over the next week or so and see if we need to sit down and set some new expectations around anything in particular, because it seems all of a sudden I have a different set of needs in terms of how I want things done!   :)
"Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something"


Piratelvr1121

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2012, 07:54:23 AM »
Yeah when the boys whine or try to get out of it, then they get the "Do it. NOW."  Our middle son loves to try to negotiate so we know better than to make it sound like he has a choice in whether or not he's going to do the chore.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

Hunter-Gatherer

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2012, 08:12:02 AM »
I completely diagree, especially where you said:

Quote
"Why don't they just say what they mean?" ignores the fact that issuing blatant commands can feel rude, abrupt, and disrespectful of other people.  I'm not going to order my husband to empty the dishwasher, because I'm not his boss or his mother, and that's not the kind of relationship that I want to have with him. 

You are missing the middle ground - asking someone to do something.  Saying "Please would you empty the dishwasher" is not an order, nor is it acting like his mother.  It also gives him the option to say, "No, I'd rather make lunches."

What works for me is to be direct and say what I mean, trying to avoid pussyfooting around things unless a little white lie is socially necessary.  If negotiating over everything works for you and your relationship that's great, but I don't think you can insist other people act the same way.

This.  The problem with, "Would you like to?" for those of us who can't stand it isn't that it's a question, it's that it's not actually the question you're asking.  I have absolutely no problem with even non-optional tasks being given in the form of a question without the "like to", but when you add those two words, you really are changing the meaning of the whole thing.  Whether what you intend is obvious or not, to some of us more literal minded individuals, when you ask us whether we'd like to do something, that's the question you're going to get an answer to.  Usually, it'll also be followed up with,"but I will anyway" because we do understand what you're asking for and actually will do it for you, but please, if you ever ask me to do something, just ask me to do it.  Don't ask me how I feel about doing it, especially if how I feel about doing it doesn't have any effect on whether or not you want me to do it.  "Would you please unload the dishwasher?" Is polite, direct, not pushy, and asking the question you want an answer to.  "Would you like to unload the dishwasher?" Is also polite and not pushy, but it's not actually asking the question you want an answer to, and it's certainly not direct, which combine for me to make it really annoying.

wolfie

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2012, 11:16:42 AM »
Honestly I think this is very similar to why many couples get into so much trouble.  Instead of telling each other, honestly and openly about what they need or expect, they either try to phrase it as the other person's choice or expect them to just guess.  It doesn't work.  Being direct is not the same as being rude.

Agree with this.  DH has a habit of asking, "Do you want me to. . .", instead of, "Do you mind if I. . .".  Compounding this, I am a very literal person.  It's taken me almost 7 years to crack this code!  (But honestly, why would I want you to go out for beers with your friends?  I don't care if you do, but I don't want you to do it.)

If he was my husband he would have been very unhappy because I would always answer no because I would have assumed he really wanted to know if I wanted him to do that. But I would have answered no I didn't mind if he asked that way - Just because I don't mind if you do it doesn't mean I want you to do it. Two very different questions!

Mental Magpie

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2012, 12:58:17 PM »
I completely diagree, especially where you said:

Quote
"Why don't they just say what they mean?" ignores the fact that issuing blatant commands can feel rude, abrupt, and disrespectful of other people.  I'm not going to order my husband to empty the dishwasher, because I'm not his boss or his mother, and that's not the kind of relationship that I want to have with him. 

You are missing the middle ground - asking someone to do something.  Saying "Please would you empty the dishwasher" is not an order, nor is it acting like his mother.  It also gives him the option to say, "No, I'd rather make lunches."

What works for me is to be direct and say what I mean, trying to avoid pussyfooting around things unless a little white lie is socially necessary.  If negotiating over everything works for you and your relationship that's great, but I don't think you can insist other people act the same way.

This.  The problem with, "Would you like to?" for those of us who can't stand it isn't that it's a question, it's that it's not actually the question you're asking.  I have absolutely no problem with even non-optional tasks being given in the form of a question without the "like to", but when you add those two words, you really are changing the meaning of the whole thing.  Whether what you intend is obvious or not, to some of us more literal minded individuals, when you ask us whether we'd like to do something, that's the question you're going to get an answer to.  Usually, it'll also be followed up with,"but I will anyway" because we do understand what you're asking for and actually will do it for you, but please, if you ever ask me to do something, just ask me to do it.  Don't ask me how I feel about doing it, especially if how I feel about doing it doesn't have any effect on whether or not you want me to do it.  "Would you please unload the dishwasher?" Is polite, direct, not pushy, and asking the question you want an answer to.  "Would you like to unload the dishwasher?" Is also polite and not pushy, but it's not actually asking the question you want an answer to, and it's certainly not direct, which combine for me to make it really annoying.

This.  We just want you to ask the question you actually want the answer to.
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Judah

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2012, 01:15:18 PM »

This.  The problem with, "Would you like to?" for those of us who can't stand it isn't that it's a question, it's that it's not actually the question you're asking.  I have absolutely no problem with even non-optional tasks being given in the form of a question without the "like to", but when you add those two words, you really are changing the meaning of the whole thing.  Whether what you intend is obvious or not, to some of us more literal minded individuals, when you ask us whether we'd like to do something, that's the question you're going to get an answer to.  Usually, it'll also be followed up with,"but I will anyway" because we do understand what you're asking for and actually will do it for you, but please, if you ever ask me to do something, just ask me to do it.  Don't ask me how I feel about doing it, especially if how I feel about doing it doesn't have any effect on whether or not you want me to do it.  "Would you please unload the dishwasher?" Is polite, direct, not pushy, and asking the question you want an answer to.  "Would you like to unload the dishwasher?" Is also polite and not pushy, but it's not actually asking the question you want an answer to, and it's certainly not direct, which combine for me to make it really annoying.

This.  We just want you to ask the question you actually want the answer to.

Exactly!
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grannyclampettjr

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2012, 08:36:08 AM »
I would much more be bothered by "Do you want to put in the next appt?" than the "Put the next appt in now, we're running behind."  The "do you want" to me says, "You can't do your job and I'm trying to tell you that by mollycoddling you and be super sweet and nice about it".  I would feel like I was being talked to like I was a child.  The "Put the next appt in now" says to me, "This is what needs done so do it."

Yes.  This right here.  Being asked, or being given a choice, "do you want to do x or do you want to do y" is something that is done to children who are being taught what needs to be done.   "Do you want to pick up your toys now?"  "Do you want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or do you want tuna?"

The latter is also a sales technique called "funneling" or "selling the details."  It's manipulative.  Very manipulative.

And finally, isnt' the larger issue not that there is a larger context to the request, but that grownups should notice on their own what needs to be done and be doing it without having a spouse point it out?

RingTailedLemur

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2012, 08:47:45 AM »
Most people do understand what's being said, and purposely pretending not to feels mean to me. 

This right here might be the problem, OP.  I am quite literal, and I would not be pretending not to understand - I would be genuinely confused why someone just didn't say what they meant.  As another poster points out, it's manipulative.

SoCalVal

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2012, 10:02:32 AM »
Most people do understand what's being said, and purposely pretending not to feels mean to me. 

This right here might be the problem, OP.  I am quite literal, and I would not be pretending not to understand - I would be genuinely confused why someone just didn't say what they meant.  As another poster points out, it's manipulative.

I don't understand this statement, either.  To me, purposely not saying what you mean seems frustrating and manipulative.  It's not the responsibility of the person being asked to interpret that what's being asked is not what is meant to be asked if the person doing the asking won't can't ask the real question, rather than the question with the hidden meaning.



artk2002

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Re: The flip side of commands disguised as a question
« Reply #29 on: September 22, 2012, 11:35:58 AM »
Most people do understand what's being said, and purposely pretending not to feels mean to me. 

This right here might be the problem, OP.  I am quite literal, and I would not be pretending not to understand - I would be genuinely confused why someone just didn't say what they meant.  As another poster points out, it's manipulative.

I agree. I'm not literal but indirect "requests" bug the heck out of me. I'm sorry Anonymousmac, but there's no good reason not to be direct and plenty of good reasons to avoid being indirect. Why should I have to try to decode what (generic) you really mean?
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