Author Topic: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL  (Read 1996 times)

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Ms_Cellany

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"Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« on: June 20, 2014, 10:14:21 AM »
MIL is here for a week-long visit; she's looking into retirement homes in our city. 

The good news is that she loves cats. The Sweetie and I had an evening obligation, so we left her in Catland with a chair, a book, and a request that she play with the kittens to tire them out.


When we came home, she was playing with Turbo, and saying how "aggressive" she was. "She climbed all over the shelves, and kept coming over to me, and jumping around, and she made me bleed!" (Turbo had used her claws climbing up MIL's leg.)


MIL then told us about her time in Catland. She got Nazgul, the shy one, to play with her, but had to distract the other, "aggressive" kittens away from them.


I was thinking, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it does," but what I said was "Could I direct you to another word? Maybe "bold" or "active?"


She said, "Yeah! That's right! I didn't mean that they were mean or anything!"
Current fosters: Boojum (F, adult); Zuul (F); Magpie (M); Balrog (M); Nazgul (F)

Oh Joy

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Re: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2014, 10:43:03 AM »
I do think your phrasing was very artful, in a good way.  But is this a situation where it is necessary to tell another adult which adjectives to choose?

Lorelei_Evil

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Re: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2014, 10:44:56 AM »
We refer to a cat we know not as pushy, but "relentlessly friendly" because she is.  She just loves meeting other cats.


Lynn2000

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Re: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2014, 10:51:27 AM »
Hmm, to me "aggressive" is kind of a bad thing, and it seems like MIL didn't really mean it as that bad, since when the OP suggested other words she took to them readily and agreed she hadn't explained herself well. So I would say it worked out well this time, in terms of clarifying communication between everyone.

But, I don't know what the OP is really feeling about it. If these were human children, I could see a parent being angry at this description, and worried that the children would overhear the word and feel negatively labeled--if not now, then maybe as they got older, if the person persisted in using the word. I shouldn't think that worry would really apply to cats, though. In my experience cats don't really care what you say about them. :)
~Lynn2000

Ms_Cellany

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Re: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2014, 11:20:09 AM »
Hmm, to me "aggressive" is kind of a bad thing, and it seems like MIL didn't really mean it as that bad, since when the OP suggested other words she took to them readily and agreed she hadn't explained herself well. So I would say it worked out well this time, in terms of clarifying communication between everyone.

But, I don't know what the OP is really feeling about it. If these were human children, I could see a parent being angry at this description, and worried that the children would overhear the word and feel negatively labeled--if not now, then maybe as they got older, if the person persisted in using the word. I shouldn't think that worry would really apply to cats, though. In my experience cats don't really care what you say about them. :)

I admit that some of my motive was wanting to correct her, but I also wanted to clarify the situation, because she really was bleeding.

Also, in the long run, she might adopt one of this batch (maybe Nazgul or Boojum*), and if she's going to bring a cat into a retirement home, we don't want her to attach an "aggressive" label to them.

*(Another MIL comment: "Why don't you ever use a normal name?"  ;D )
Current fosters: Boojum (F, adult); Zuul (F); Magpie (M); Balrog (M); Nazgul (F)

VorFemme

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Re: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2014, 11:57:01 AM »
So many, many cats have "normal" names - but do they come when called by that alias?  Not most of them...

The cats with more nearly unique names - in my experience - do tend to come when called because they KNOW that that unique sound is used when good things are going to happen for them...tasty treats, scritches under the chin & around the ears, and other good things.

Well, sometimes they get taken to the place of astringent smells and the persons in white look under their tail, in their mouth, and scratch THEM with long metal claws...but they get to come home with their staff member after that (usually) and get spoiled a bit for putting up with the indignity.  If they are in the carrier of humiliation - it beats having the big dog with the open mouth try to play with them as if THEY were a squeaky toy.  They are the cat, not a squeaky toy.  It is much easier to ignore the big dog with the open mouth who wants a squeaky toy from inside the carrier of humiliation...but that doesn't mean that it gets called the carrier of refuge from the occasional big dogs with open mouths...that takes too long to say, even in cat.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2014, 01:09:57 PM by VorFemme »
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

jmarvellous

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Re: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2014, 12:15:32 PM »
I confess that the wording in the OP sounds like something you might say to a naughty child who doesn't have a good vocabulary. It would put me right off talking to her.

I might try, "Are you sure they were being aggressive? It sounds a lot like their usual play, but if you think it was too harsh, we'll have to work on training them some more."

cass2591

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Re: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2014, 01:02:48 PM »
Vorfemme, it's been less than a week since I asked you to stop using random caps so for the life of me I don't understand why you're doing it now.

I will not warn you again. If someone reports it, and believe me, they will, you will be gagged. This is not facebook where there are few, if any, options to emphasize words. I suggest you get out of the habit of caps and use italics.
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Onyx_TKD

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Re: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2014, 01:55:58 PM »
I was thinking, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it does," but what I said was "Could I direct you to another word? Maybe "bold" or "active?"

I admit that some of my motive was wanting to correct her, but I also wanted to clarify the situation, because she really was bleeding.

It sounds like your wording worked in this particular situation without ruffling any feathers. However, if you really wanted to clarify what happened, I don't think your wording was an ideal way to do that. To me, saying "Could I direct you to another word?" implies that you've already decided the word she used is incorrect, i.e., the kittens are not aggressive and thus, MIL must be mistaken in her wording. That kind of assumption would be rather insulting towards the speaker. The desire to clarify, OTOH, implies that you accept the possibility that the kittens might have acted aggressively to her on this occasion (or at least something more serious that merely "bold" and "active"), which seems like a reasonable concern if the cat-lover came back bloody from playing with them.

I think a better approach would have been to (1) address the injury ("Oh, no! How badly were you scratched? Do you need [help cleaning the scratches/a bandage/etc.]?") and (2) try to clarify what she meant by aggressive while showing some concern about uncharacteristic "aggression" ("You said they were aggressive with you and each other? They're always bold and very active, but they're not usually aggressive. [What kind of things were they doing?/How did you get scratched?]"). Note that this provides the same alternate words that you did and makes it clear that you consider "aggressive" to be a negative description. However, it doesn't assume that her description was wrong, and gives her the opportunity to tell you about any problem behaviors that she might have actually observed (or you the opportunity to provide an alternate interpretation if the "aggressive" behavior was normal kitten stuff).

esposita

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Re: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2014, 03:06:19 PM »
I feel like Ms Cellany probably knows the best way to communicate with her mom... The suggestions for acting like she thought her cats were actually being aggressive seem PA to me. Her mom's response doesn't give any indication of offence.

I think its okay to say what we mean and mean what we say, in this case, saying "Could I direct you to another word?" is polite and probably normal for their relationship, although in my family, we would have said the phrase MsCellany was thinking in her head, because we all love that film! :)

Onyx_TKD

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Re: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2014, 04:50:03 PM »
I feel like Ms Cellany probably knows the best way to communicate with her mom... The suggestions for acting like she thought her cats were actually being aggressive seem PA to me. Her mom's response doesn't give any indication of offence.

I think its okay to say what we mean and mean what we say, in this case, saying "Could I direct you to another word?" is polite and probably normal for their relationship, although in my family, we would have said the phrase MsCellany was thinking in her head, because we all love that film! :)

If we assumed that everyone knew the best way to communicate with their own family and friends, there wouldn't be a whole lot of discussion on this forum.  ;) Like I said, it clearly worked for this particular situation with this particular person. However, in general, I think that phrasing could be problematic. You seem to disagree, which is fine, but it doesn't change my opinion. Since MsCellany posted the exchange in an on-topic etiquette board, I assume she was open to discussion on the pros and cons of her phrasing.

My suggested phrasing was not intended to be a PA way to get the person to change their phrasing. My suggestion was to actually find out what happened. If the person misspoke and clarifies what they meant, that's wonderful. If they truly did mean "aggressive," then there is a problem somewhere, either in the kitten's behavior or in the person's interpretation of that behavior. That problem should probably be addressed before the kitten and person play together again. Personally, if my kitten drew blood on someone playing with them and that person described them as "aggressive," I would absolutely want to know what happened, even if I strongly suspected that it was unintentional on the kitten's part. Plus, I would never assume that my pet could not have acted aggressively (or at least have inflicted intentional albeit provoked harm) just because is isn't typical. In fact, I would be concerned about atypical aggression as an indicator that something could be seriously wrong. In addition, if someone's pet injured me and they automatically assumed that I misspoke, then I would be insulted.

BeagleMommy

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Re: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2014, 11:46:17 AM »
Hmm, to me "aggressive" is kind of a bad thing, and it seems like MIL didn't really mean it as that bad, since when the OP suggested other words she took to them readily and agreed she hadn't explained herself well. So I would say it worked out well this time, in terms of clarifying communication between everyone.

But, I don't know what the OP is really feeling about it. If these were human children, I could see a parent being angry at this description, and worried that the children would overhear the word and feel negatively labeled--if not now, then maybe as they got older, if the person persisted in using the word. I shouldn't think that worry would really apply to cats, though. In my experience cats don't really care what you say about them. :)

I admit that some of my motive was wanting to correct her, but I also wanted to clarify the situation, because she really was bleeding.

Also, in the long run, she might adopt one of this batch (maybe Nazgul or Boojum*), and if she's going to bring a cat into a retirement home, we don't want her to attach an "aggressive" label to them.

*(Another MIL comment: "Why don't you ever use a normal name?"  ;D )

"The naming of cats is a difficult matter.  It isn't just one of your holiday games.  You may think, at first, I'm as mad as a hatter when I tell you a cat must have three different names."   Okay, Theater Geek BeagleMommy has gone to find her "Cats" album.

VorFemme

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Re: "Could I direct you to another word?" - more MIL
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2014, 09:08:59 PM »
Hmm, to me "aggressive" is kind of a bad thing, and it seems like MIL didn't really mean it as that bad, since when the OP suggested other words she took to them readily and agreed she hadn't explained herself well. So I would say it worked out well this time, in terms of clarifying communication between everyone.

But, I don't know what the OP is really feeling about it. If these were human children, I could see a parent being angry at this description, and worried that the children would overhear the word and feel negatively labeled--if not now, then maybe as they got older, if the person persisted in using the word. I shouldn't think that worry would really apply to cats, though. In my experience cats don't really care what you say about them. :)

++++

Found one that I could hear, just no photos of the cast as they sing/chant!  Darn it!

I admit that some of my motive was wanting to correct her, but I also wanted to clarify the situation, because she really was bleeding.

Also, in the long run, she might adopt one of this batch (maybe Nazgul or Boojum*), and if she's going to bring a cat into a retirement home, we don't want her to attach an "aggressive" label to them.

*(Another MIL comment: "Why don't you ever use a normal name?"  ;D )

"The naming of cats is a difficult matter.  It isn't just one of your holiday games.  You may think, at first, I'm as mad as a hatter when I tell you a cat must have three different names."   Okay, Theater Geek BeagleMommy has gone to find her "Cats" album.

Theater Geek VorFemme went to YouTube - the only video that came up on the search has really bad sound, at 100% on the computer, I could barely hear it.  Time to run a Google search, I think.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 09:11:35 PM by VorFemme »
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?