Author Topic: Why do we do it?  (Read 5873 times)

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SamiHami

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Why do we do it?
« on: September 19, 2013, 01:49:57 PM »
Not a question about a specific incident, but more of a general question. Why do we go to such great lengths to spare the feelings of those who are rude to us? I just read the shoe shopping thread and then another one about a nosy stranger telling the OP to hurry up and have kids...

In both of those instances the OPs were, IMHO, faultlessly polite. On the other hand, I don't think the perpetrators got that they were horrifically rude. Maybe I'm just getting old and impatient, but would it really have been so rude to say, "Ma'am, I don't know you and I am not interested in your opinion regarding my footwear/reproductive choices, etc." Maybe they weren't meaning to be rude, but they really were very rude. I can understand someone asking once, more as a conversation starter than a probing interrogation, "So, when do you think you'll have kids?" and easily accepting a non-commital answer. But if someone continues to relentlessly probe, etc. I think it's perfectly justifiable to say, "That is a very personal subject and I am not going to discuss that with you."

Is a little bluntness really so terribly rude? I guess it is, and as I said maybe I'm just turning into an old grump, but as a childfree by choice person, I endured my share of awful, nosy questions from people, along with their "knowing" assertions that I'd change my mind (I didn't) or that I'd regret it forever (so far I don't).

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TurtleDove

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2013, 01:55:55 PM »
If it someone I know I will continue to have to encounter, I may take the time to educate them, but otherwise I tend to think it only detracts from my happiness and has no effect on the rude person to try to show them the error of their ways.  For me it isn't so much that I want to be "polite" to someone who has been rude to me, more that I prefer to keep my mind drama free and waste no time of people who are not value adds to my life.  Especially when anything I say is not likely to have any impact.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2013, 02:15:03 PM »
Not a question about a specific incident, but more of a general question. Why do we go to such great lengths to spare the feelings of those who are rude to us? I just read the shoe shopping thread and then another one about a nosy stranger telling the OP to hurry up and have kids...

In both of those instances the OPs were, IMHO, faultlessly polite. On the other hand, I don't think the perpetrators got that they were horrifically rude. Maybe I'm just getting old and impatient, but would it really have been so rude to say, "Ma'am, I don't know you and I am not interested in your opinion regarding my footwear/reproductive choices, etc." Maybe they weren't meaning to be rude, but they really were very rude. I can understand someone asking once, more as a conversation starter than a probing interrogation, "So, when do you think you'll have kids?" and easily accepting a non-commital answer. But if someone continues to relentlessly probe, etc. I think it's perfectly justifiable to say, "That is a very personal subject and I am not going to discuss that with you."

Is a little bluntness really so terribly rude? I guess it is, and as I said maybe I'm just turning into an old grump, but as a childfree by choice person, I endured my share of awful, nosy questions from people, along with their "knowing" assertions that I'd change my mind (I didn't) or that I'd regret it forever (so far I don't).

Bluntness is not rude as long as it is not used to retaliate against a rude person. In the shoe store, it would've been fine to say, "I'm sorry but, this is none of your concern. Please, stay away from me."

veronaz

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2013, 02:23:12 PM »
Quote
and as I said maybe I'm just turning into an old grump,

Well, as I’ve gotten older I’ve turned into more of a curmudgeon.  But let’s not be so quick to just blame age or our own personalities.

Some questions are just plain rude, or on general principles, don’t deserve much of an answer if any.

I think in general, we (because of upbringing or what we’ve been told) want to be nice, we want to give others the benefit of the doubt, we want to feel good about not coming back at the person with an answer they deserve or ignoring them completely.  We don't want an uncomfortable situation to spoil our day/evening. Then later we think about it and get mad at ourselves, wishing we had not been so nice to someone who didn’t deserve it.

I find that a silent stare then walking away or a brief, confused frown then “Excuse me?  That’s a strange question” often works with rude comments or nosey inquiries.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2013, 02:26:09 PM by veronaz »

weeblewobble

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2013, 02:30:47 PM »
In my situation ("I judge you and your footwear, you tall person!"), the impression I got from her was not, "I'm just trying to be helpful and it hurts my feelings that you're not listening."  It felt like the woman was trying to "shame me" back into a socially acceptable mode of femininity. I am tall and have a curvy figure. I am not petite and delicate, and because of that, this woman implied that I should try to minimize myself and hide, avoid calling attention to my "condition" because what I am/how I'm built is beneath notice.

She was shoe-shaming me.

She was rude because she was offended by my "audacity" and thought it was up to her to put me in my place. 

Don't get me wrong, she hurt my feelings.  Somewhere in the back of my head, I was asking myself, wow, do I really look so bad that a stranger felt compelled to tell me my height was unattractive? It's one thing for an aunt or uncle to tell you that you're wearing the wrong outfit/shoes, but a complete stranger?  That's pretty bad. At the same time, most of my thoughts centered around, "Who the HECK do you think you are?  I am an Amazon!" 

I was polite as a defense mechanism, because if I responded in the way my instincts demanded, I would have made a scene and embarrassed myself.

gen xer

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2013, 02:32:25 PM »
 I guess it's how I interpret their motive....for example shoe lady was breathtakingly rude and deserved a slapping down.  The OP in that thread was beyond gracious....more than she needed to be.

People asking about kids....it is rude but in a different degree.  Tactless, nosy....but not likely intending to be so.  It's a little tougher because some people don't mind those kinds of questions but others find them intrusive.  Of course that doesn't mean you are obliged to answer personal questions but it would make me much less inclined towards bluntness.

Relentless probing is yet again different because it really is a peeve when people don't take the hint.  In that case I think a little bluntness is OK.  After all if they are that obtuse they should be able to handle a bit of "frank talk".

TootsNYC

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2013, 02:36:57 PM »
Etiquette absolutely allows for people to communicate to others that they are being rude/intrusive/out of line.

The "niceness" conditioning that most women go through doesn't, however. (Men get some of that as well, but not nearly as thoroughly as women still do.)

It's also true that the "pushback" is uncomfortable for the non-involved to witness. (it's why the Cut Direct is such a serious thing--it's really hard on onlookers, so you need to be sure you're being just). And therefore people are often taught to not "make a scene," or they decide that they don't want to do that.

But it can absolutely be a tactical decision.

Many times the intruded-upon simply don't want the unpleasantness around them. If they push back, the unpleasantness lasts longer and gets stronger. So they deflect. It's what's easiest and most pleasant for them (and that's OK, as much as I sort of wish weeblewobble had been frosty).

There's also the factor that someone who is so "over the line" as that will simply STAY over the line, and you'll just be "engaging the crazy." You'll prolong the interaction and increase that person's impact on your life. If you deflect and avoid (think: Teflon), it all ends faster and with lesser power.

Raintree

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2013, 02:46:10 PM »
I ran into a person who had financially exploited an elderly family member of mine and stolen from his house (there is absolutely no doubt about this; it's fact, although the police said they couldn't do anything because he was a "willing victim.") She approached me acting friendly, and I gave her the cut direct. She tried harder to get me to speak, so speak I did....and I tore a strip off her. She then said, "You are being very rude to me!" Um, yeah. I had tried to ignore her and she pursued. I really think there are some situations where the person doesn't deserve to be treated politely.

MrTango

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2013, 02:49:03 PM »
I don't care at all about the feelings of someone who is rude to me.  What I do care about is to ensure that my own actions are held up to my personal standards of behavior.  That's why I make an effort to be polite to people: not for their sake, but for my own.

mspallaton

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2013, 03:07:50 PM »
I don't care at all about the feelings of someone who is rude to me.  What I do care about is to ensure that my own actions are held up to my personal standards of behavior.  That's why I make an effort to be polite to people: not for their sake, but for my own.

Yet again I find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with MrTango!

I think, as other posters have pointed out, that it may not be an etiquette violation, per say, to speak bluntly to someone else.  However, do you go home at the end of the day proud of how you conducted yourself?  If the answer is yes - more power to you.  For others, a blunt or sharp response may feel like a loss of control or a deviation from how they wish to carry themselves.

Myself - I tend to speak bluntly when the occasion calls for it.  My parents placed an emphasis on not being passive-aggressive and that means there are times when the air gets *ahem* cleared... a bit more often. 

I think both methods and commendable when done properly.  I have to be careful not to stray into rude territory.  Someone who tends to the other side has to avoid becoming a martyr for politeness.  It is all about balance.

Cami

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2013, 04:12:33 PM »
I think it's because we are socially conditioned, especially if we are women, to be "nice". No matter the provocation, we have to be "nice"...

Or else what?

At the end of the day, I have no problem not being nice to someone who's being rude and obnoxious to me. I won't lose any sleep over it. Maybe if enough people stopped being nice to the jerks who impose on our space or our body or our head space, they wouldn't feel so free to say the kind of crap they say.

I can tell you that my FIL was the king of comments like the OP in that other thread received. At a certain point, I'd reached my quota of patience with boorishness and called him on it every time. He stopped saying that crap to me. Kept on saying it to others. Which proved my theory that you can teach (at least some) people to leave you alone if you are willing to step off of the "nice" pedestal.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2013, 04:14:31 PM by Cami »

TootsNYC

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2013, 04:15:55 PM »

I can tell you that my FIL was the king of comments like the OP in that other thread received. At a certain point, I'd reached my quota of patience with boorishness and called him on it every time. He stopped saying that crap to me. Kept on saying it to others. Which proved my theory that you can teach (at least some) people to leave you alone if you are willing to step off of the "nice" pedestal.

It also proves that they can control it.

lowspark

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2013, 04:43:51 PM »
I don't care at all about the feelings of someone who is rude to me.  What I do care about is to ensure that my own actions are held up to my personal standards of behavior.  That's why I make an effort to be polite to people: not for their sake, but for my own.

This.
I've actually spent my life giving what might charitably be called "blunt" answers. As I've gotten older, I've tried to soften that bluntness only insofar as making sure my bluntness didn't go beyond the realm of politeness. You can be blunt and polite. I'm just not always successful at the polite part. And I'm trying to improve, as MrTango noted, for my own sake not for theirs.

Chip2

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2013, 06:13:35 PM »
I did 24 years in the Army and retired as a Sergeant First Class. I learned that you can be blunt and disrespectful and polite all at the same time, and had more than a few opportunities to put that particular skill to use, but I tended to stay diplomatic unless the situation really called for it. And that meant the few times I yelled at someone they really listened.

Since my retirement my rule of thumb is, to paraphrase Wil Wheaton, "Don't be a jerk." So I try my best not to, and usually succeed. I can tell someone 'I'm Afraid That Won't Be Possible' without ticking them off and at the same time offer to help them find a way to get things done. I come across as friendly and helpful but firm at the same time.

But that doesn't mean I have to take crap from anybody, especially from people I don't know who think butting into my activities is an appropriate use of their time. Remember, we have the options of 'Complete Silence', 'What an Interesting Assumption', and 'So Kind of You to Take an Interest', and they're all E-Hell approved.

JeanFromBNA

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Re: Why do we do it?
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2013, 08:23:38 PM »
I think that there are two levels of warning when someone crosses the line firmly into rude:

"Excuse me?" said as a challenge than a question.  It means, "Did you really mean to say that?" It gives the potential offender an excuse to backpedal, clear the air, or otherwise save face. 

"I beg your pardon!" Informs the offender that a hard line has been crossed and serious and sincere reparations are in order if the relationship is to continue. 

I don't think that etiquette requires us to always make an offender feel better.  It depends on the offense.  However, I agree with this:

But it can absolutely be a tactical decision.

Many times the intruded-upon simply don't want the unpleasantness around them. If they push back, the unpleasantness lasts longer and gets stronger. So they deflect. It's what's easiest and most pleasant for them (and that's OK, as much as I sort of wish weeblewobble had been frosty).

There's also the factor that someone who is so "over the line" as that will simply STAY over the line, and you'll just be "engaging the crazy." You'll prolong the interaction and increase that person's impact on your life. If you deflect and avoid (think: Teflon), it all ends faster and with lesser power.

A few years ago, I was in the middle of a long day, eating a fast-food lunch at 5PM, when a self-appointed dietitian pointed out that my lunch contained too many unhealthy calories.  It was sheer exhaustion that made me reply, "Is it okay if I care what you think tomorrow?  'Cause I just don't have time today."