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Author Topic: Hedged thank you's  (Read 6943 times)

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Lady Snowdon

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Hedged thank you's
« on: January 13, 2013, 11:28:02 AM »
My FIL has a lot of really bad habits, but only one is sufficient to drive me to the brink of insanity.  The man cannot just say "thank you" for whatever you give him.  Every "thank you" comes with a monologue about how he's sure it'll be okay, but he doesn't want to play with it just now, in case it's terrible, but it's kind of you to think of him, and he's sure it'll be fine, but he just has to think about what if it's not fine...and so on, ad infinitum.  Every gift we give to him gets this reaction - even the things he's specifically asked for.  We gave him a copy of "Killing Lincoln" by Bill O'Reilly last year - a book he had asked for by title and author.  When he opened it, the response was "Gee, thanks.  I'm not sure if I'll like it, but I'll definitely read it.  I hope it's good.  If it's not, I don't know what I'll do with it.  But I'm sure it's good.  I don't want to open it now, in case it's not good though, you know?".  I said, "FIL, MIL said that you'd specifically asked for this book.  Is it the wrong one?".  He said, "No, no, I'm sure it's the right one, if that's what she said.  I just don't know if it'll be any good.  I mean, I'm sure it's good, because I said something about it, but if it's not good, I don't know..."

EvilMe would dearly love to ask for the present back when he pulls this, because obviously it's not what he wanted, and I wouldn't want to burden him with an unwanted gift, right?  >:D 

Disregarding that solution, what is a good way to respond to this kind of "thanks"?  It doesn't feel like a thank you at all, because he's so obviously dubious about what we've given him. 

gramma dishes

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Re: Hedged thank you's
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2013, 11:47:00 AM »
That would drive me nuts too. 

Does he do this with everyone, or just with you?

It sounds like an old ingrained habit that will be hard and maybe impossible to break.  I'd be tempted to stop him after the first words ("Thank you, I think ...") and immediately say to him and everyone else in the room "Glad you like it, FIL.  Okay, now let's move on."  And then do move on to paying attention to someone else's gift.

Maybe he doesn't think the simple words "Oh, thank you!" are enough.  I think it sounds like he just feels a need to fill up empty air space with words of some kind, so he just rambles on and on.

How does your DH feel about it?  Or is he just so used to it that it doesn't phase him anymore?


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Re: Hedged thank you's
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2013, 01:31:33 PM »
As my dd would say, "You can't turn an Eeyore into Pooh Bear."

So don't waste your time trying to placate him or make him happy. It's a mission impossible. Ignore his comments except to respond, "You're welcome" to every thank you comment he makes. Do not let yourself be drawn into a conversation about the gift or attempt to placate him or make him happy. He really doesn't want to be made happy. He wants to complain and have the attention on him.


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Re: Hedged thank you's
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2013, 01:47:40 PM »
he sounds like so many of my relatives... people who cannot accept gifts (or compliments) or anything for themselves. either because they feel that they are not worthy so they have to 'belittle' the gift so it will be appropritae for them. or because they are afraid/ashamed/guilty if they ask for what they *really* want, so they throw out some 'neutral' request and want people to get them something else. Or they grew up in war time/depression/Holocaust and they are so afraid to "waste" something.

yes, it's frustrating but in the case of our relative (my father)  - we learned to live with it.

After your FIL gives that kind of thanks - does he actually read the book? does he actually use what you buy him?

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Re: Hedged thank you's
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2013, 03:27:35 PM »
I wonder if he feels pressured somehow to really like what he's given, and he's worried about sending the wrong message somehow.


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Re: Hedged thank you's
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2013, 04:25:35 PM »
Arrgh! Is there something, anything that your DH knows his father likes?  Otherwise I'd do two things.  First, stop trying to give him a really great present that he will love and thank you for in an appropriate manner.  Its not going to happen.  If you invest less in the process your feeling will be less hurt.

Second, beat him to the punch.  Go all Eyore on hims when you "give" hi the present.  Make a game of it between you and your DH.  "Happy Birthday dad, this probably isn't the right gift and you may not like it, but we bought it anyway so I hope it fits."  If you've already said it he can't and then he may feel he has to make you feel better.


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Re: Hedged thank you's
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2013, 04:37:05 PM »
As my dd would say, "You can't turn an Eeyore into Pooh Bear."

I am so totally stealing this.
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Re: Hedged thank you's
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2013, 09:24:45 PM »
As my dd would say, "You can't turn an Eeyore into Pooh Bear."

I am so totally stealing this.

Me too. Your dd is brilliant!

On the OP - I have a quirk where I feel very anxious if someone I care about shares something they really love with me, especially if it's something they've created themselves. I am such a perfectionist myself that I can't bear to not like it, if that makes sense. It's a stupid quirk and I try to fight against it. I'm not usually a negative person, but in this one way I am completely and totally negative, with a thought process something like "I may not like it. If I don't like it Friend will feel hurt. Oh no! Better just not look at it then." Thankfully I keep this internal and have learnt to fake it. But I can't see myself ever cheerfully opening a friend's novel or whatever right in front of them.

Anyway, the reason I share this somewhat long winded story is to ask is FIL generally a negative person? I'm wondering if he gets "gift anxiety" where he sees you as being crushed if he doesn't love love love your present and treasure it forever and ever and so a) tries to lower your expectations and b) puts off looking at it so that the moment of truth is delayed. As to dealing with it, if you think it might be this I would suggest jumping in with "You're welcome!" as soon as he says thank you and then passing on to the next thing. It would take the pressure off FIL and also save you the hassle of listening to him.
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