Author Topic: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked - Good update #31  (Read 6839 times)

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EllenS

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2013, 01:25:35 PM »
POD to lilfox.  100%. 
I am also going to say something that may be politically incorrect, but it is based on my own observations in the work world. If you are sensitive about gender politics, please mentally add the phrase "in my experience" to everything I say below, and don't accuse me of making offensive generalizations.  This is what I have seen.

The "rudeness level" of your comments depends on whether you were talking to a man or a woman.  A lot of women would probably be unduly shocked by what you said, and it would be overkill.  Women also tend to over-explain, over-apologize, and seek permission to voice their needs and requirements in the workplace, and put pressure on other women to behave the same way.  Women tend to use words like "I'm afraid" and "I'm sorry" when they are not necessary, and to behave like subordinates toward their peers.

Men tend to push for what they want and ignore subtle or deflective hints.  You have to whack them over the head with a rolled-up newspaper to get their attention to the big picture.  When women talk like men at work (and I don't mean crude language, I mean direct and without circumlocution), they get accused of being rude, Female Dog, etc.

Unless you were using a "hey, stupid", type tone what you said was not rude.  You were also not apologetic, deferential and submissive.  There is no reason you should be, unless that is necessary to your role in the heirarchy or helps you function in your workplace.

TootsNYC

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2013, 02:11:44 PM »
I think in both the situations you explained, you went nuclear without even trying for the less abrupt, less potentially rude thing.

Why did you got to "needle stuck into me to see if I have cancer" before you said, "I have a doctor's appointment, and I can't reschedule it."

And why can't you say, far earlier, "Susan passed away"? (though the matter-of-fact or even humorous, "well, she's dead, so that's not a problem" isn't rude at all, and it might serve to sting him a little so that he won't be quite so insistent)

I actually agree w/ EllenS about gender/power language, but I think you can get there without revealing more of your medical info than is wise or polite.

(I've become sort of sensitive to the "privacy" issue from the OTHER side, the idea that if I'm not truly in your inner circle, then dumping your health issues on me is actually sort of rude, bcs it presumes and intimacy that doesn't exist. I didn't sign on to be on those sorts of terms with you)

EllenS

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2013, 02:30:22 PM »
Toots, I got the impression from OP that she did try to defuse/deflect/"that won't be possible" and the insister kept pushing, resulting in a gradually escalating scenario like Lilfox outlined.  Of course if the "end it" move was the first thing out of OP's mouth, yeah I agree with you.

bah12

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2013, 02:46:55 PM »
I don't think there's anything wrong with being blunt.  Nor do I think that vagueness and "that won't be possible" is always the best way to tell someone "no".  Sometimes, people need a reason and sometimes, the straight forward truth is the best approach to take.  Of course, there is an art to that kind of blunt honesty.  Tone and audience being the biggest factor.

For your specific cases, I think this:

1.  If the other person wouldn't or couldn't accept that a doctor's appointment is more important than whatever the crisis he was dealing with at the time, then you have some options.  One would be to just walk away.  Another, to be vague and say something "it's a very necessary appointment that I cannot reschedule".  And then there's the option to just come out and say "I'm getting tested for cancer today.  I'm not willing/able to wait to help you with this right now."  And sometimes, the path of least resistence really is to just be honest.  And how honest you are about your own medical issues is really up to you.  Because who you draw into that 'circle of know' is completely your perrogative.  So, how you decided to explain what was happening probably could have been smoother.  Depending on the body part you were referring to, it might have been TMI or too shocking for a work environment/coworker boundary.  It probably would have gotten the same point across to say "I'm being checked for cancer".

2.  This time a coworker is talking about the mistake of a specific person and talking about training and action items for that specific person.  Again, if this is the type of person who won't let you get a word in edgewise to subtly explain what's going on, then bluntness might be the answer.  Saying "She's dead" again, might not be the best choice of words.  "She passed away last month" or "She's no longer here with us" might get the same point accross while avoiding the directness that some people don't appreciate. 

But overall, I don't really see anything you did as rude.  Bluntness has it's place...if your tone and the audience allowed for that type of straight-forwardness, then ther'es nothing wrong with it.

HelenB

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2013, 08:00:44 PM »
lilfox, I think you hit on what was making me uncomfortable with what I'd said.  I did try to diffuse/deflect, but I could have gone a few more steps before pulling out the trump card (love that analogy). 

EllenS -- I hadn't thought about the gender/power language thing -- very interesting.  They were both men, and they both do push very hard for what they want.  And, I'm supposed to be working on being more forceful at work, but I don't think I went the right direction with what I ended up saying.  Next time this sort of thing comes up, I will attempt forceful, but general.

(Still waiting for a call from the doctor's office -- hoping that not hearing right away means that the results are of a lower concern)

BarensMom

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2013, 08:30:03 PM »
There are times, with certain kinds of people, the non-descriptive polite answer just won't cut it.  In the OP's case, it sounds like she tried to politely deflect without result.  So she went with the blunt truth - people don't always like it, but it usually works.

I think I've told the story about a co-worker in a similar situation - a client called the company and wanted to speak to the owner, who had passed away the previous week.  Coworker kept trying to pass the call to the manager, but client wasn't having it.  Finally, Coworker said, "Owner is deceased."  Only then was Coworker finally able to transfer the call to Manager.

EllenS

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2013, 09:05:26 PM »
(Still waiting for a call from the doctor's office -- hoping that not hearing right away means that the results are of a lower concern)

Sending good thoughts. 

Seven Ate Nine

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2013, 09:50:35 PM »


EllenS -- I hadn't thought about the gender/power language thing -- very interesting.  They were both men, and they both do push very hard for what they want.  And, I'm supposed to be working on being more forceful at work, but I don't think I went the right direction with what I ended up saying.  Next time this sort of thing comes up, I will attempt forceful, but general.

I think that this history makes a bit of a difference as well.  At my current job, I would take all of the steps lined out by lilfox, because there is no history of people being pushy.  They'd have to really really get under my skin for me to push the big red button.  At my last job, my boss had a huge history of bullying me (and others) into working excessive overtime, and otherwise doing things that I should not have been asked to do (doing two people's work alone, or working above my paygrade).  With him, I would have hit the nuclear option pretty much as soon as the first objection came out, because I knew from experience that only going nuclear was going to get me out of the argument and on my way home.

EllenS

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2013, 11:54:08 PM »
I just had a really interesting discussion with DH about this.  He said, the way he thinks - he and most men he knows would prefer to hear the real reason up front, because it saves them the time and effort of an "argument".  He does not see bluntness as rude, but as helpful and efficient.

To him, giving subtle and indirect answers is a signal that something is being concealed, and his reaction is, "so what nail do I have to hammer down to achieve my goal?"  He will continue to push and argue, because he assumes there must not be a valid reason or it would have been stated up front.

I just thought it was such a different perspective than the way I think and interact, it was interesting.

cicero

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2013, 02:48:46 AM »
what lilfox said.

and I don't think you needed to go to step four - i *still* wouldn't have said "i need to be tested for cancer on my [women's part]" because frankly it doesn't matter. the point is that you are an adult, you cleared this with your boss, and you need to go to the doctor.

I certainly understand where you are coming from, and I've BTDT - when you are so stressed because you are undergoing tests and waiting for results, sometimes your brain freezes over and your brain to mouth filter malfunctions. I 'm pretty sure that when i was going thru the same thing you are going thru, i probably said a few things i shouldn't have said, and ruffled a few feathers. 

huge hugs and best wishes for a healthy outcome.

 
I just had a really interesting discussion with DH about this.  He said, the way he thinks - he and most men he knows would prefer to hear the real reason up front, because it saves them the time and effort of an "argument".  He does not see bluntness as rude, but as helpful and efficient.


be that as it may - you can say "I can't be at the meeting because a bunch of doctors are going to be poking my female regions with doodads to make sure i don't have cancer" or you can say "i have an unavoidable and unchangeable medical appointment. I sent all my notes to the team, I cleared this with BigBoss , and Marie will be there for Q&A." the first is blunt and is the real reason but if you ask me, it's TMI in a workplace (may be TMI anywhere but this is a workplace). the second is clear, concise, the real reason, and more proactive and professional.

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HelenB

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #25 on: April 18, 2013, 11:40:24 AM »
...
and I don't think you needed to go to step four - i *still* wouldn't have said "i need to be tested for cancer on my [women's part]" because frankly it doesn't matter.
...

I'm sorry everyone -- I accidentally misled you. The test was on a part that both men and women have in the neck.  I didn't put the real body part in the email to make it harder for people in real life to identify me here.

It is ironic that I was very specific with someone who knows exactly who I am, but was general on the internet.

rigs32

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #26 on: April 18, 2013, 11:58:24 AM »

The "rudeness level" of your comments depends on whether you were talking to a man or a woman.  A lot of women would probably be unduly shocked by what you said, and it would be overkill.  Women also tend to over-explain, over-apologize, and seek permission to voice their needs and requirements in the workplace, and put pressure on other women to behave the same way.  Women tend to use words like "I'm afraid" and "I'm sorry" when they are not necessary, and to behave like subordinates toward their peers.

Men tend to push for what they want and ignore subtle or deflective hints.  You have to whack them over the head with a rolled-up newspaper to get their attention to the big picture.  When women talk like men at work (and I don't mean crude language, I mean direct and without circumlocution), they get accused of being rude, Female Dog, etc.


Considering this was in the work place and not a family gathering or while out with friends, I agree with this.  According to much of the discussion in this thread, it sounds like many of you would think I was rude on a daily basis.  But being blunt is often the way to get my point across and cut off the men who are trying to bully me. 

The last time I tried lilfox's approach, I ended up picking a jury hours after a cervical biopsy.  The female supervisors were horrified my male supervisor wasn't flexible.  I'd just gotten promoted and didn't want to rock the boat too much.  That experience taught me a big lesson and I will continue to be blunt as needed so I can get my personal needs met when they are, in fact, needs.

EllenS

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #27 on: April 18, 2013, 12:52:18 PM »
I guess I should have had DH type his comment instead of trying to repeat it!  I didn't mean naming body parts - gendered or otherwise.  I was speaking more generally about the idea that what women often perceive as being "polite" or "subtle", is perceived by men as being "evasive" or "deceptive".

It was something DH and I had never really talked about before, since I am fairly blunt most of the time.

Hmmmmm

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #28 on: April 18, 2013, 01:58:50 PM »
I just had a really interesting discussion with DH about this.  He said, the way he thinks - he and most men he knows would prefer to hear the real reason up front, because it saves them the time and effort of an "argument".  He does not see bluntness as rude, but as helpful and efficient.To him, giving subtle and indirect answers is a signal that something is being concealed, and his reaction is, "so what nail do I have to hammer down to achieve my goal?"  He will continue to push and argue, because he assumes there must not be a valid reason or it would have been stated up front.

I just thought it was such a different perspective than the way I think and interact, it was interesting.

I think your DH is right.  In my "woman''s" speak "I'd prefer not to." means "No, not happening". In DH's mind it means "I don't want to but will."

But I think you could have been direct with "I'm on my way out the door for a biopsy". Being graphic about needles and body parts was not necessary.

JeanFromBNA

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Re: I know I didn't need to tell them, but it worked
« Reply #29 on: April 18, 2013, 02:13:51 PM »
IMO, everything that Lilifox wrote between the first and last statements would be a waste of time.  But I work in construction and engineering, which is probably 90% male.  I am more comfortable with bluntness, but it has cost me female friendships.  EllenS has made outstanding observations on male/female communication. 

HelenB, perhaps you should just try not to be graphic.  It would be just as direct to say, "My doctor has scheduled a biopsy at 2PM, and I can't miss that."