Author Topic: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?  (Read 6624 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Lynn2000

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5367
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #30 on: February 15, 2013, 04:40:46 PM »
OP, I understand how you feel, even without the larger dynamic with your father. I've had to do things like give presentations or defend for advanced degrees (nerve-racking), and sometimes it bugs me when people say, "Oh, you'll do great!" It's not so much the words as the tone--I think it was GratefulMaria who first characterized it as "dismissive." I kind of wanted to say, "You don't know that! You don't know how nervous I am, how much work (or not) I've put into it, you just want to say something quick and move on to a new topic." Eh, whatever, you'll do great, now let's talk about my problems...

Obviously not everyone who says those words means it this way; I think a lot of them are sincere in trying to tell me something affirming and this is just a common way of expressing it, which happens to grate on me. It might be more a matter of personal preference than rude/not rude, though. For example, I would rather say to someone, encouragingly, "Good luck!" And someone who felt they'd worked really hard--"luck has nothing to do with it"--might take offense at that.
~Lynn2000

Cami

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1307
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #31 on: February 15, 2013, 04:42:19 PM »
I'm a little confused. You're upset that your dad says things that are too optimistic when you inform him of an upcoming competition because it puts pressure on you or slights the other competitors in some way, but you're also upset that he's not commenting enough when you don't win the long-shot competition? Sounds like the least stressful thing would be to assume good intentions even if his comments were clumsily made, and perhaps not mention such things to him in the future.

It's not that they're too optimistic. They're "Yes, you WILL win" statements. That passes from optimism into something else entirely. Then when I don't win, he has absolutely nothing to say about it and brushes me off when I try to say that I'm disappointed/didn't try hard enough/should have won.  It just strikes me as strange that he constantly cuts me off with "You're going to win!" when I say that I'm nervous, then has NOTHING to say after I lose. I just don't get it.

Also, I tend not to mention such things to him. My mother usually tells him and, as was the case last night, he overheard our conversation.

OP -- it sounds like this conversation is part of a larger dynamic with your father.

However, as a general rule, I think that to assume that everyone who says, "You're going to win" is so ignorant or stupid as to believe that there is no other option is condescending, at best. 

That attitude also ignores another reality -- that they're saying, "You're going to win!" as a way of expressing a hope for future prospects or a general positive outlook.

I've actually addressed this possibility and have said "I appreciate that you're being optimistic, but"-and he simply cuts me off with "No, you ARE going to win" and refuses to talk about anything else. Even if I say "There are a lot of competitors, I don't want to get anyone's hopes up" he STILL makes absolute statements like that instead of "I hope you do well" or even "You'll do well."
LIke I said, it sounds like this is part of a general dynamic. Your father, from what I'm reading here, deals in perfection and absolutes and refuses to entertain the reality of, well, reality. 

I once dealt with someone like that as a customer!

LOL -- I still remember this one customer from 20 years ago who wanted a special order. REALLLY special order from a vendor. I told him from the get-go, "I will do my best, but I make no promises. I will cheerfully refund your money if she refuses--" He kept interrupting me and saying, "The vendor WILL do it." I kept reiterating, "She may or she may not. It's up to her--" He'd interrupt  me, "NO. She WILL do it. I know she will." As you can guess, the vendor declined the special order and oh the joy when I had to tell him that I was refunding his order. He just kept barking, "BUT she WILL do it." I said, "No, actually, she will NOT. I'm sending you a check." He just kept repeating himself. After about fifteen minutes of it, I finally said, "You can say that a million times or until the world ends, but it's not going to make it true. A check is in the mail. Goodbye."

OP, I understand how you feel, even without the larger dynamic with your father. I've had to do things like give presentations or defend for advanced degrees (nerve-racking), and sometimes it bugs me when people say, "Oh, you'll do great!" It's not so much the words as the tone--I think it was GratefulMaria who first characterized it as "dismissive." I kind of wanted to say, "You don't know that! You don't know how nervous I am, how much work (or not) I've put into it, you just want to say something quick and move on to a new topic." Eh, whatever, you'll do great, now let's talk about my problems...

Obviously not everyone who says those words means it this way; I think a lot of them are sincere in trying to tell me something affirming and this is just a common way of expressing it, which happens to grate on me. It might be more a matter of personal preference than rude/not rude, though. For example, I would rather say to someone, encouragingly, "Good luck!" And someone who felt they'd worked really hard--"luck has nothing to do with it"--might take offense at that.
Sometimes I feel that there are so many ways someone might take offense to a statement that is made with the very best of intentions that there is little point in conversing with others. And that would be offensive too. Sigh. Can't win.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 04:45:13 PM by Cami »

Moray

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1869
  • My hovercraft is full of eels!
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #32 on: February 15, 2013, 04:43:30 PM »
Given that he's not expressing disappointment after a loss, it really seems unfair to paint his encouraging comments as a demand that you win.

There are some people who aren't great at reading other people to provide their ideal form of encouragement. There are some people who try to provide encouragement, anyway. Your dad sounds like one of those people. So when he says "You'll win. Don't worry." just realize that he's trying to express encouragement, even if he isn't using the words you'd prefer. Pretend you're translating from "Dadspeak" if needed.

Utah

JoyinVirginia

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6074
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #33 on: February 15, 2013, 04:52:19 PM »
He's your father. He is saying something positive.
I don't understand where three offense is coming from.
If you don't want him to say things like this, don't tell him about these things.

Friend I had in college, she got upset when her mother said she was pretty. Because there are lots more people who look better than her. Her mom was trying to say something nice.

That's different. Being pretty isn't a competition (unless you're in a competition or are a model) and her mother didn't say she was the "prettiest girl in the world" or something. Even if she had, beauty is subjective to some extent. Whereas I'm going to get an e-mail tonight with a list of ten people who made the cut and ninety one who didn't.

I'm not really sure why you posted.  I am trying to share a different perspective. I do not understand why your father is the object of your anger, even after further posts from you. This seems like a very stressful time, perhaps avoiding discussing topics like this with him when you are feeling so much pressure would be a good strategy for the future.

Adelaide

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 953
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #34 on: February 15, 2013, 05:06:36 PM »
He's your father. He is saying something positive.
I don't understand where three offense is coming from.
If you don't want him to say things like this, don't tell him about these things.

Friend I had in college, she got upset when her mother said she was pretty. Because there are lots more people who look better than her. Her mom was trying to say something nice.

That's different. Being pretty isn't a competition (unless you're in a competition or are a model) and her mother didn't say she was the "prettiest girl in the world" or something. Even if she had, beauty is subjective to some extent. Whereas I'm going to get an e-mail tonight with a list of ten people who made the cut and ninety one who didn't.

I'm not really sure why you posted.  I am trying to share a different perspective. I do not understand why your father is the object of your anger, even after further posts from you. This seems like a very stressful time, perhaps avoiding discussing topics like this with him when you are feeling so much pressure would be a good strategy for the future.

Oh sorry! I misread your post is all. I thought you were trying to show an analogous situation.

atirial

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2644
  • just 'plane mad
    • Tirial & Errror blog
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #35 on: February 15, 2013, 05:45:09 PM »
Given that he's not expressing disappointment after a loss, it really seems unfair to paint his encouraging comments as a demand that you win.
It sounds as though he's not expressing anything at all - support, critique, reassurance. It is quite possible for a parent to communicate disappointment by not saying anything to you unless you 'win'. 

From the point of view of etiquette you are going to have trouble changing him, so it might be easier to just not discuss things with him. 

gollymolly2

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2670
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #36 on: February 15, 2013, 06:14:19 PM »
I totally relate and understand. I remember when I was studying for the bar, I was really stressed that I would fail. When I tried to talk about that, the answer from everyone around me was "don't worry, you'll definitely pass." Which was non-helpful. It just added to my stress of what people would think if I didn't pass. And they made these statements without understanding that 50% of people fail and that I could lose my job if I failed and yada yada.

I feel like the situation here is similar. Your parents should say encouraging things, that they hope you'll do well, that they're proud of you, etc. but "you'll win" is annoying because its not really encouraging and it's probably not true.

Having said that, they're probably saying that with good intentions, so I think you should do your best to hear their intentions rather than their actual words.

Good luck! (Is this moot court, by the way? That was my favorite part of law school)

bansidhe

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2073
    • The Menagerie
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #37 on: February 15, 2013, 07:01:36 PM »
I had a friend who, whenever I would attempt to talk about a problem I was facing, would say, "Oh, I'm sure everything will turn out just fine!" and then change the subject. She did this once when I told her my cat had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  :o  It was dismissive and hurtful and she might as well have said, "I don't really care about your problems" instead. Naturally, she expected me to listen to and care deeply about all of her problems.

I don't know OP's father, but that's how his comments come across to me - like he doesn't really want to think about the issue or provide any useful advice, and so comes up with an empty platitude. It would annoy me, too, but there's probably not much OP can do about it apart from lowering her expectations of her father and finding a friend or someone to talk to who will really listen.

I tend to get quite annoyed when people guarantee the outcome of an event that hasn't yet occurred, as OP's father is doing. My company entered a competition a while back and one of the higher-ups sent out an e-mail saying that he was sure we would win. What's wrong with saying something like, "I'm confident that the widget we entered is of the highest quality and I think our chances are excellent"? When you guarantee an outcome you just end up looking like a braggart and a fool when things don't turn out the way you predicted.

(No, we didn't win.)

Good luck in the competition, OP!
Esan ozenki!

Arizona

citadelle

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 522
  • fully functional & aesthetically pleasing
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #38 on: February 15, 2013, 07:45:19 PM »
Conversation really can be a minefield. Between this thread, the count your blessings one, and whether or not to comfort someone crying, I am feeling a little overwhelmed!

I know that intent is not magical, but in some cases, I really think it has to count for something. A person's words are not always going to be the perfect thing, but perhaps we can give a little consideration to someone well meant?

To answer the question posed: no, I don't think blind (unconditional?) support is rude.

Raintree

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6035
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #39 on: February 15, 2013, 10:33:16 PM »
I get the whole "believe in yourself" thing, but I also remember in college if I ever expressed worry over an exam, I'd get "Oh don't worry, you'll do great." Well actually there were times when I should have worried MORE; I hadn't studied enough, didn't know the material, and still had vast chunks I hadn't looked at yet. I needed to be concerned, and hunker down and study. I don't think it's a given that "I'll do great" if I don't know the material.

mbbored

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5315
    • Budget Grad Student
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #40 on: February 15, 2013, 10:36:43 PM »
I am in a similar situation - I'm in an academic field that relies on grants. I have submitted several grants that have not been funded - the funding rate is very low (maybe 5-10% of all submitted) and so the outcome wasn't unexpected. I either didn't mention the grant to my parents, or I explained "I applied for this but it's a very, very long shot, almost like playing the lottery." It sounds like simply not mentioning the contest to your dad is the way to go - if it's a public speaking contest, just say something like "I'm preparing a talk I'll be giving soon" and don't mention the competition aspect.

ETA: For true long shot, hyper competitive processes, it can really sting when people say "Oh, I'm sure you'll get in/win" because it makes you think if you don't, they will be surprised and let down. It sets them up for a false expectation and kind of devalues the whole process.

No one says "oh, I'm sure you'll win" when you buy a lottery card, or even a 50/50 raffle ticket where only a few hundred people are in the pool.

I'm in a similar position. When people say "Oh, I'm sure you'll get the grant/win the speaker prize/pass your qualifying exams!"  I feel like they're denigrating my very real concerns about the odds I'm actually up against. And so very often when I don't get the grant or the speaker prize or when I didn't pass a section of a major exam they follow up with "Well, why did you fail? You clearly didn't try hard enough!" In a competitive field just working hard and wanting it isn't enough.

kareng57

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12311
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #41 on: February 15, 2013, 11:52:20 PM »
I am in a similar situation - I'm in an academic field that relies on grants. I have submitted several grants that have not been funded - the funding rate is very low (maybe 5-10% of all submitted) and so the outcome wasn't unexpected. I either didn't mention the grant to my parents, or I explained "I applied for this but it's a very, very long shot, almost like playing the lottery." It sounds like simply not mentioning the contest to your dad is the way to go - if it's a public speaking contest, just say something like "I'm preparing a talk I'll be giving soon" and don't mention the competition aspect.

ETA: For true long shot, hyper competitive processes, it can really sting when people say "Oh, I'm sure you'll get in/win" because it makes you think if you don't, they will be surprised and let down. It sets them up for a false expectation and kind of devalues the whole process.

No one says "oh, I'm sure you'll win" when you buy a lottery card, or even a 50/50 raffle ticket where only a few hundred people are in the pool.

I'm in a similar position. When people say "Oh, I'm sure you'll get the grant/win the speaker prize/pass your qualifying exams!"  I feel like they're denigrating my very real concerns about the odds I'm actually up against. And so very often when I don't get the grant or the speaker prize or when I didn't pass a section of a major exam they follow up with "Well, why did you fail? You clearly didn't try hard enough!" In a competitive field just working hard and wanting it isn't enough.


In my case - it's my kids :).  They understand how difficult it's been for me, getting my pink-slip within a few weeks of my husband's death, and looking for work, with no luck, during about the last six months.

Just today, I had a group-interview among eight candidates, and this was with a company that gets hundreds of resumes a month.  They can definitely be picky, and I could easily see that everyone else in the group was at least equally as qualified as me.  But when I spoke to DS #1 after the interview, he said "oh, Mom, of course you were the best!"  That was awfully nice, but I had to tell him, that no, I was not the best.  I will just have to wait and see if I get a call back for a more comprehensive interview.

But, I can understand when it's a parent who is saying "of course, they will choose you!"  Well - what if they don't?  I can kind of understand the OP's position.  OTOH, it could seem like normal parental encouragement (though I'd never say that to my own kids), but it could also seem like "they didn't choose you, therefore what did you do wrong?"  Even if the parent didn't mean it that way, that could be the interpretation.  Overall, what's wrong with "I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you"?

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 30848
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #42 on: February 16, 2013, 12:45:12 AM »
or how about: "Well, *I* think you're amazing. And I will love you no matter what happens with this job/test/whatever."

Those of us who are reading this thread can tink about our encouragement techniques.

My own mom was great. She'd point out, "well, you do this really well; remember this other time you did great, and I see similarities now; I'm sure you'll do your best."

But mostly she'd listen: "Is this normal nerves, or are you really worried?"

Sigh...missing her a lot lately. There is nothing that has affected my life as powerfully s the rock-solid belief that my mother would love me and admire me no matter WHAT tests I failed, or no matter how badly I messed up.

No amount of blind encouragement could ever have provided the strength that this did.

mbbored

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5315
    • Budget Grad Student
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #43 on: February 16, 2013, 01:30:33 AM »
or how about: "Well, *I* think you're amazing. And I will love you no matter what happens with this job/test/whatever."

Those of us who are reading this thread can tink about our encouragement techniques.

My own mom was great. She'd point out, "well, you do this really well; remember this other time you did great, and I see similarities now; I'm sure you'll do your best."

But mostly she'd listen: "Is this normal nerves, or are you really worried?"

Sigh...missing her a lot lately. There is nothing that has affected my life as powerfully s the rock-solid belief that my mother would love me and admire me no matter WHAT tests I failed, or no matter how badly I messed up.

No amount of blind encouragement could ever have provided the strength that this did.

That's the type of support I appreciate. "I'm proud of you for working so hard and coming so far regardless of what happens." "Good luck tomorrow! I'll be rooting for you!" It comes across as being more genuine and more aware of my very real concerns.

Deetee

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5659
Re: Blind Encouragement/Affirmation: rude or not?
« Reply #44 on: February 16, 2013, 01:37:09 AM »
or how about: "Well, *I* think you're amazing. And I will love you no matter what happens with this job/test/whatever."

I think that is good. I think (from the people who have posted about agreeing with OP, myself included), it's not about a ridiclous or unfounded belief that we find annoying or tone-deaf, it's simply the stated expected outcome (in the absence of a real reason to believe it).

So anything like "You totally deserve it" or " If I was in charge you'd get it" or "It would be great if you won" or "I know you will do great" or "You always do so well. I'm sure you will do well again" is blind encouragement, but avoids the  "You will win" or "You will get it" promise and is therefore just fine and welcomed. You can be a total cheerleader for someone without telling them lies.

I know with my own kid, I won't tell her "You can do it" unless I know that she can actually do it and that it is something within her sphere of control.

Being told "You will win" when it outside of your control is simply not helpful or kind.