Author Topic: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation  (Read 6912 times)

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TurtleDove

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2013, 12:26:57 PM »
I think what some of us are saying is that it makes no sense that any drama would be created over drink choices. I don't think this has anything to do with the drinks at all. These people seem unreasonable so standard "how should this be handled" won't work. In my experience, this would be a non event.

o_gal

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2013, 12:29:52 PM »
I've been puzzling over this, and I'm legitimately having difficulty seeing how this could be a "drama" inducing scenario. Just confirm the drink orders if you're unsure that they're correct. There's no blame to assign, no drama, no stress.

The drama would have been my Mom using this to lead into another venting session about my brother and his fiance. Mom really does like his fiance, but her entrance into the family has been quick and she has basically usurped Mom's position as a "temporary Mom" to the twins. Brother and fiance have not known each other for as long as Mom would like, and Mom had huge, HUGE problems when fiance moved in with brother last fall.

Mom really didn't have the right to speak for brother, but if she had heard me reconfirming in a way that implied that she didn't get it right or that it wasn't her place to state his drink order, it would have opened up the venting session later. I usually let her vent her steam at me so that she wears herself out on it and it deflects her from the object of her venting. But it would have been awkward to have done it right before dinner and I don't know when she would have chosen to vent.

Zizi-K

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2013, 12:30:24 PM »
This is why I set up a beverage station and let guests help themselves. I heartily dislike playing waitress at dinner parties.

lowspark

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2013, 12:33:00 PM »
And I know the drinks are a euphomism, but what in the world would cause so much drama?  My guess is that if it's drama-inducing, then it's more the people involved than the situation.

No, you don't know that  :D  In this case, the drinks are the drinks - iced tea and Coke Zero.

But yes, it is the people involved. I was trying to get the opinion of other e-Hellions on what is a good way to discreetly confirm a drink choice when blatantly confirming it will open up some drama (see my update in an earlier post.) I think some good suggestions would help in all kinds of situations.

In this kind of situation, I usually try to make it look like I've messed something up or made some kind of mistake, thus putting the blame on myself instead of where it really belongs, as a way to avoid potential drama.

So... what I would probably do is go to your brother and say something like, "Mom told me what you wanted to drink but I already forgot! What would you like?" It's a confirmation without making it sound like you're doubting Mom's word.

o_gal

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2013, 12:35:31 PM »
And I know the drinks are a euphomism, but what in the world would cause so much drama?  My guess is that if it's drama-inducing, then it's more the people involved than the situation.

No, you don't know that  :D  In this case, the drinks are the drinks - iced tea and Coke Zero.

But yes, it is the people involved. I was trying to get the opinion of other e-Hellions on what is a good way to discreetly confirm a drink choice when blatantly confirming it will open up some drama (see my update in an earlier post.) I think some good suggestions would help in all kinds of situations.

In this kind of situation, I usually try to make it look like I've messed something up or made some kind of mistake, thus putting the blame on myself instead of where it really belongs, as a way to avoid potential drama.

So... what I would probably do is go to your brother and say something like, "Mom told me what you wanted to drink but I already forgot! What would you like?" It's a confirmation without making it sound like you're doubting Mom's word.

Oh, I like this one! It takes care of the problem of her overhearing and getting offended. I'll tuck this one in my back pocket too - thanks!

bah12

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2013, 12:39:28 PM »
I've been puzzling over this, and I'm legitimately having difficulty seeing how this could be a "drama" inducing scenario. Just confirm the drink orders if you're unsure that they're correct. There's no blame to assign, no drama, no stress.

The drama would have been my Mom using this to lead into another venting session about my brother and his fiance. Mom really does like his fiance, but her entrance into the family has been quick and she has basically usurped Mom's position as a "temporary Mom" to the twins. Brother and fiance have not known each other for as long as Mom would like, and Mom had huge, HUGE problems when fiance moved in with brother last fall.

Mom really didn't have the right to speak for brother, but if she had heard me reconfirming in a way that implied that she didn't get it right or that it wasn't her place to state his drink order, it would have opened up the venting session later. I usually let her vent her steam at me so that she wears herself out on it and it deflects her from the object of her venting. But it would have been awkward to have done it right before dinner and I don't know when she would have chosen to vent.

This is your brother's problem to handle.  If your mom is being PA about his new relationship, to the point of intentionally controlling his beverage choices, then he needs to take that up with her.  I would have asked him what he wanted, gotten that for him, and if Mom caused any drama over it, then as the hostess, I would have called her out.

All that being said, your brother handled himself perfectly.  He accepted the drink you brought him without comment and asked for his Coke Zero when it was time for refills.  So, no drama, and you weren't put in the awkward position of asking your mom to behave.

I applaud you for being a good hostess and wanting to make sure that all your guests are completely satisfied with what they are served. But this isn't about drinks, it's a family dynamic issue that your brother needs to handle.  If he gets the wrong drink in the process, then it's not your problem. 

cicero

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #21 on: April 01, 2013, 12:51:28 PM »
I've been puzzling over this, and I'm legitimately having difficulty seeing how this could be a "drama" inducing scenario. Just confirm the drink orders if you're unsure that they're correct. There's no blame to assign, no drama, no stress.

The drama would have been my Mom using this to lead into another venting session about my brother and his fiance. Mom really does like his fiance, but her entrance into the family has been quick and she has basically usurped Mom's position as a "temporary Mom" to the twins. Brother and fiance have not known each other for as long as Mom would like, and Mom had huge, HUGE problems when fiance moved in with brother last fall.

Mom really didn't have the right to speak for brother, but if she had heard me reconfirming in a way that implied that she didn't get it right or that it wasn't her place to state his drink order, it would have opened up the venting session later. I usually let her vent her steam at me so that she wears herself out on it and it deflects her from the object of her venting. But it would have been awkward to have done it right before dinner and I don't know when she would have chosen to vent.
so? the way to stop this (sorry - ridiculous) drama is to not engage.

In this situation, everyone acted very graciously, but by *you* (the host) listening to your mother instead of asking/confirming wiht your brother, you caused an unnecessary issue for your brother.

If your mother chooses to kvetch about this later on, adding *this* incident to her list of "complaints" - that's *her* choice. Don't listen to it. As soon as she starts, just say "mom, i like Sandy. I do't want to hear this. Bean dip?"

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lowspark

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2013, 01:12:42 PM »
Yeah, the brother probably should just tell Mom to back off. But it might not be so easy to do, depending on how Mom will react. And certainly Easter dinner was not the time or place to do so. It sounds like he handled the situation with grace and so did the OP.

But I really understand why the OP is asking how to handle it. In a way, Mom is putting her in the middle by giving her the directive outside of brother's earshot. Now OP can either just go with what Mom says, knowing full well that Mom has no authority or consent to speak for Brother, or she can ignore Mom and go back and ask Brother what he wants. So that puts OP is in a situation where she has to be not-so-great hostess to Brother or risk fall-out from Mom.

She doesn't want either of those things to happen and is looking for a way out. So yeah, it's Brother's problem, but as his sister, OP is doing the right thing looking for a way to handle this properly as the hostess. Sooner or later, if Brother has had it up to here, he'll end up telling Mom to back off. With any luck, OP won't be privy to that conversation.

doodlemor

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #23 on: April 01, 2013, 01:52:38 PM »
The drama would have been my Mom using this to lead into another venting session about my brother and his fiance. Mom really does like his fiance, but her entrance into the family has been quick and she has basically usurped Mom's position as a "temporary Mom" to the twins. Brother and fiance have not known each other for as long as Mom would like, and Mom had huge, HUGE problems when fiance moved in with brother last fall.

Mom really didn't have the right to speak for brother, but if she had heard me reconfirming in a way that implied that she didn't get it right or that it wasn't her place to state his drink order, it would have opened up the venting session later. I usually let her vent her steam at me so that she wears herself out on it and it deflects her from the object of her venting. But it would have been awkward to have done it right before dinner and I don't know when she would have chosen to vent.



It sounds like you've got a lot more going here on than drink orders. 

Frankly, it sounds like your mom is very controlling and difficult to deal with.  For starters, I don't think that you need to listen to her rants and invective about your brother.  This must be a terrible mood dampener.  Tell her that you refuse to listen to this any more, get off the phone, or leave her presence. 

o_gal

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #24 on: April 01, 2013, 01:56:20 PM »
Sooner or later, if Brother has had it up to here, he'll end up telling Mom to back off. With any luck, OP won't be privy to that conversation.

I'm sure I won't be, and I LIKE IT THAT WAY!  >:D

There's a lot of disfunction going on, lots of enmeshment of my brother and my parents, lots of backstory. Because fiance has been living with brother since last October, she obviously knows the level of enmeshment. I can tell that she is working on breaking the bonds little by little, which is what she will need to do in order to fully be the wife and mom to the boys. Go future SIL!

o_gal

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2013, 02:07:03 PM »
Frankly, it sounds like your mom is very controlling and difficult to deal with.  For starters, I don't think that you need to listen to her rants and invective about your brother.  This must be a terrible mood dampener.  Tell her that you refuse to listen to this any more, get off the phone, or leave her presence.

I can usually listen to her vents in a kind of "Anthropologist studying the Great Apes" mode. She uses me as her outlet because I'm a safe option for her. So I just let her vent and this deflects it/her from the object of her venting, as I said previously. It's just that sometimes her vents don't come in private between us, and I wanted to avoid triggering one of them, because I wasn't sure when she would go off. Triggering it right before dinner would have been very bad timing.

Promise

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2013, 02:11:49 PM »
It's a drink for goodness sake! A gracious guest accepts what they are given and then if they want a refill later, get it themselves or ask for their preference. As a hostess, you did not do anything wrong. Again,  people take their personal issues and hang them on things that don't matter.

TurtleDove

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #27 on: April 01, 2013, 02:12:15 PM »
I can usually listen to her vents in a kind of "Anthropologist studying the Great Apes" mode. She uses me as her outlet because I'm a safe option for her. So I just let her vent and this deflects it/her from the object of her venting, as I said previously. It's just that sometimes her vents don't come in private between us, and I wanted to avoid triggering one of them, because I wasn't sure when she would go off. Triggering it right before dinner would have been very bad timing.

It sounds to me as though you are giving yourself way more power and control than you really have.  It seems to me that your actions are not the "trigger" - your mother's need to make her disapproval of your brother and his fiance is.  Regardless of anything you do, your mother will find some reason to rant.  My best advice is to stop walking on eggshells and call her out on her atrocious behavior.  To her face.  Every time she does it.  If she cannot alter her behavior, stop spending time with her.

FWIW, I have done this with relatives.  Some altered their behavior, and I remain in close contact with them.  Some did not, and I have had no contact with them.  But my life is relatively (pardon the pun) drama free so good riddance.

doodlemor

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #28 on: April 01, 2013, 02:25:37 PM »
I can usually listen to her vents in a kind of "Anthropologist studying the Great Apes" mode. She uses me as her outlet because I'm a safe option for her. So I just let her vent and this deflects it/her from the object of her venting, as I said previously. It's just that sometimes her vents don't come in private between us, and I wanted to avoid triggering one of them, because I wasn't sure when she would go off. Triggering it right before dinner would have been very bad timing.

It sounds to me as though you are giving yourself way more power and control than you really have.  It seems to me that your actions are not the "trigger" - your mother's need to make her disapproval of your brother and his fiance is.  Regardless of anything you do, your mother will find some reason to rant.  My best advice is to stop walking on eggshells and call her out on her atrocious behavior.  To her face.  Every time she does it.  If she cannot alter her behavior, stop spending time with her.

FWIW, I have done this with relatives.  Some altered their behavior, and I remain in close contact with them.  Some did not, and I have had no contact with them.  But my life is relatively (pardon the pun) drama free so good riddance.

POD.

I hope that your mother doesn't think that you agree with her venting when  you listen to her.  I absolutely agree with shutting her down, immediately, and it sounds lie TurtleDove knows how to do it and has offered excellent advice.

Many times people with difficult family members get so accustomed to the aberrant behavior that they no longer recognize how out of line the behavior is.  If this is true of your mother/family, then you have your work cut out for you.

TurtleDove

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #29 on: April 01, 2013, 02:40:02 PM »
Not to derail the thread, but here is one example from my life.  My older sister is somewhat of a golden child, at least in her own mind, and she is extremely competitive with me.  I could not ever possibly measure up, in her mind (not in mine - while I think her life is fantastic, I don't feel the need to make comparisons - I am happy with my life), and it frustrates her that I don't engage in the competition. 

My toddler was acting up at a family holiday meal, and I told DD that if she did not do X (I think it was stop going under the table and eat some bites of her food), Y would happen (I think it was she would not get the fabulous dessert my mom made).  My child did not do X, so Y happened.  DD began screaming and I took her away from the table until she was calm and brought her back.  She did not get dessert until after she ate the bites of her food.  Personally, I think I handled it well.  DD has improved since then.  She was maybe 3 at the time.

My sister, the next day, sent me an email chastising me for how I handled my child (she has four kids) and that my leaving the table with my misbehaving toddler ruined the meal.  I should not have denied her dessert on a holiday (never mind she did get dessert, I just made sure she actually had some real food first).  My response was that I was saddened to learn that she disapproved of my parenting (which, for the record, is what she does also and her children "ruined" many many meals over the years in the same way), but that I had thought about how to handle my DD, was doing the best I could, believe I handled the situation well, and that if she was uncomfortable with how I am parenting then maybe we should not spend time together if it is upsetting to her.

I got an apology.  My sister saw where I was coming from and that her disapproval of me might affect her, but wouldn't affect me. Now, my family isn't perfect, but especially as we get older we are really working hard to not be petty and to treat each other with respect and love.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2013, 02:44:00 PM by TurtleDove »