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  • November 20, 2017, 10:51:15 PM

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Author Topic: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"  (Read 11294 times)

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Dragonflymom

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #45 on: September 13, 2017, 05:35:20 PM »
I've been in that same position, where somebody won't get a thing for themselves that they want - and instead will only get it if they can share it with me or with my daughter.

Though in my case it was my late grandmother and she threw a huge screaming fit at the store and acted like I was committing elder abuse by saying no, Dragonfly-kid is not allowed to have gumdrops because her doctor said they could make her choke at her age, but go ahead and get some for you or to share with my parents if you want.  She wanted them for herself, but didn't want to own it, and wanted to say she got them to share with my daughter and I spoiled her plan I guess.  It got me glared at by quite a few people as she got louder and louder about how I was being so cruel to her, I guess by not letting her give dangerous food to my then two year old daughter.

That kind of thing makes it hard to say no.   And makes a person not like being put on the spot and having to say no.  When somebody punishes you enough for it, either sulking or in this case having an outright public screaming fit.  I stood my ground in this case, because my daughter's well being was at stake, but otherwise I would have immediately backed down when the public screaming started and everyone in the store was glaring at me.

Though writing this, now it makes me wonder if bad prior experiences like this can sort of steer a person into being an asker or a guesser.
"By swallowing evil goats unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach"  Winston Churchill

Zizi-K

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #46 on: September 13, 2017, 07:15:16 PM »
I've been in that same position, where somebody won't get a thing for themselves that they want - and instead will only get it if they can share it with me or with my daughter.

Though in my case it was my late grandmother and she threw a huge screaming fit at the store and acted like I was committing elder abuse by saying no, Dragonfly-kid is not allowed to have gumdrops because her doctor said they could make her choke at her age, but go ahead and get some for you or to share with my parents if you want.  She wanted them for herself, but didn't want to own it, and wanted to say she got them to share with my daughter and I spoiled her plan I guess.  It got me glared at by quite a few people as she got louder and louder about how I was being so cruel to her, I guess by not letting her give dangerous food to my then two year old daughter.

That kind of thing makes it hard to say no.   And makes a person not like being put on the spot and having to say no.  When somebody punishes you enough for it, either sulking or in this case having an outright public screaming fit.  I stood my ground in this case, because my daughter's well being was at stake, but otherwise I would have immediately backed down when the public screaming started and everyone in the store was glaring at me.

Though writing this, now it makes me wonder if bad prior experiences like this can sort of steer a person into being an asker or a guesser.

My MIL has some of that going on. She will often offer me a drink or some food, or ask me if I am going to order soup at a restaurant. After I decline (because I genuinely don't want it, or want something else) she will look sort of disappointed and I realize what she was really saying was that she wanted it. Why a 80+ year old woman can't just have a drink or a soup because she wants it is beyond me. Now sometimes I will say, "I don't know, were you going to have one?" and then negotiate from there.

Kiwipinball

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #47 on: September 13, 2017, 10:31:17 PM »
LOL -- I was kind of in the LW's position this week!

I took my MIL out to lunch, and the server asked her if she would like fries with her hamburger.  She looked up at me and said, "Are you going to eat some?"  I said, "No, thanks, but you go ahead and get them -- you don't have to eat them all."  She said, "Then I won't have them."

It irritated me at the time, not because I felt bullied (I didn't), but because she really wanted the fries, but she wouldn't own it; she wanted it to be my responsibility either for her to consume the calories or for her to go without the fries.  She does that a lot ("Didn't you want to stop for dessert?"  "Gellchom must be tired and want to leave now" "DH probably isn't in the mood for Chinese food" when it is clear to one and all that she is the one who wants dessert/to leave/Italian food).  I don't understand it, because it's never anything anyone would mind a bit her asking for directly or think less of her for wanting.  And she is very much a "direct," not a hinter, generally -- it's only when it's something she doesn't want to admit (perhaps to herself) wanting.

But, to her credit, she didn't sulk about those fries.  So in the end it worked out fine: she asked, I said no, she made her choice, and she lived with it without recrimination.

And I will try to take it as a learning opportunity not to let myself feel manipulated, by "translating" and pretending she is asking directly rather than digging in my heels and pretending I don't hear what she wants.  (She is almost 90, so we are not in a situation where I'm worrying about reinforcing the manipulation by complying; she isn't going to change whether I do or don't.)

Next time I might even say, "Sure, let's share the fries" and then just not eat any if I don't want them.

That's good she didn't sulk. She might have been in a situation where yes, she wanted fries, but couldn't eat all of them and didn't want to waste food. I can sympathize with that. And if she's around 90, she'd have grown up during the Great Depression? That can change how people look at food waste, spending money, etc. But as long as she's an adult who's okay with her decision, it's fine. I could see making a similar decision in her boat (I want X, know I can't eat all of X, would like to split X with someone, no one else wants X, I decide it's not worth getting X).

Sounds like she does a lot of it around food - that could also be strongly ingrained manners from a while ago. My grandmother (90 on Sunday!) always apologizes to us when she serves cold cuts and sandwiches. None of us mind (we like to see my grandparents and don't need a 90 year old woman slaving over a stove). But she's been apologizing for years now. Because in her day, it would have been a BIG DEAL to not have prepared something more labor-intensive. I agree with you - definitely not worth trying to change someone in their 90s.

mime

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #48 on: September 14, 2017, 09:51:56 AM »
LOL -- I was kind of in the LW's position this week!

I took my MIL out to lunch, and the server asked her if she would like fries with her hamburger.  She looked up at me and said, "Are you going to eat some?"  I said, "No, thanks, but you go ahead and get them -- you don't have to eat them all."  She said, "Then I won't have them."

It irritated me at the time, not because I felt bullied (I didn't), but because she really wanted the fries, but she wouldn't own it; she wanted it to be my responsibility either for her to consume the calories or for her to go without the fries.  She does that a lot ("Didn't you want to stop for dessert?"  "Gellchom must be tired and want to leave now" "DH probably isn't in the mood for Chinese food" when it is clear to one and all that she is the one who wants dessert/to leave/Italian food).  I don't understand it, because it's never anything anyone would mind a bit her asking for directly or think less of her for wanting.  And she is very much a "direct," not a hinter, generally -- it's only when it's something she doesn't want to admit (perhaps to herself) wanting.

But, to her credit, she didn't sulk about those fries.  So in the end it worked out fine: she asked, I said no, she made her choice, and she lived with it without recrimination.

And I will try to take it as a learning opportunity not to let myself feel manipulated, by "translating" and pretending she is asking directly rather than digging in my heels and pretending I don't hear what she wants.  (She is almost 90, so we are not in a situation where I'm worrying about reinforcing the manipulation by complying; she isn't going to change whether I do or don't.)

Next time I might even say, "Sure, let's share the fries" and then just not eat any if I don't want them.

That's good she didn't sulk. She might have been in a situation where yes, she wanted fries, but couldn't eat all of them and didn't want to waste food. I can sympathize with that. And if she's around 90, she'd have grown up during the Great Depression? That can change how people look at food waste, spending money, etc. But as long as she's an adult who's okay with her decision, it's fine. I could see making a similar decision in her boat (I want X, know I can't eat all of X, would like to split X with someone, no one else wants X, I decide it's not worth getting X).

Sounds like she does a lot of it around food - that could also be strongly ingrained manners from a while ago. My grandmother (90 on Sunday!) always apologizes to us when she serves cold cuts and sandwiches. None of us mind (we like to see my grandparents and don't need a 90 year old woman slaving over a stove). But she's been apologizing for years now. Because in her day, it would have been a BIG DEAL to not have prepared something more labor-intensive. I agree with you - definitely not worth trying to change someone in their 90s.

gellchom-- I wonder if some of your MIL's issue would be feeling that she was taking advantage of your hosting? If she felt like the fries put the value of her food higher than the value of yours, then it's a no-go, according to the way some of us are raised.

At one time I had two men on my staff who were both young and very athletic. When I took them out for lunch, I could tell they read their cues from me when it came to ordering, even though my calorie needs were waaaay less than their. So I tried to order extra food to make them feel free to get as much as they needed/wanted. No big deal in the end; I brought my leftovers home for dinner.

kiwipinball-- I think my MIL and grandmother were both of that older-generation mindset. It was a sign of love to make an elaborate meal for family. 'Just' serving cold cuts was like saying you didn't care. It was hard to convey to them that we were happy picking up KFC and spending the saved-time playing cards and actually interacting with them instead.


gellchom

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #49 on: September 14, 2017, 10:20:22 AM »
With my MIL, if anything, it's that her appetite is small now, so she doesn't want to waste the extra.  That's why I said it was okay to just leave what she didn't want.  Usually, I'll say, "We'll just take any extra to go," but I didn't this time because fries are one of the few foods that aren't good leftover.  With her, though, she does this whether there is a question of waste or not: she does it whenever it's something she thinks of as an indulgence or something and doesn't want to admit that she wants it.

The reason I posted the story is that it is an example of that: people refusing to take ownership of their own desires, even completely reasonable ones, but instead of just letting them go if they think it's something they shouldn't ask for, instead they try to manipulate others into making sure it happens anyway. 

As far as I can tell, they are telling themselves that they are actually being more polite and unselfish that way.  But IMO, it's less polite to put it all onto others to (1) decode what they are really saying and (2) take responsibility for the choice.

Just as the LW seemed to feel that she was being super polite by not saying no even when not pushed -- and as a corollary, labeling anyone who asks her anything as bullies.  That is what I (and Hax) find really, really rude (and worse than rude, in fact): extending the principle and projecting rudeness and bullying onto people who, even in a completely unpushy but direct way, simply ask for or suggest something entirely reasonable.

As I learn to navigate this interpersonal shoal, I'm thinking I might try to go the extra mile (even though I think it shouldn't be necessary) and give an "out" as I do when I'm offering something to a "hinter" (the above-referenced "and I promise to tell you if it's not convenient, so please don't be afraid to ask").  To use the LW's scenario, I might say something like, "Do you have any interest in sharing a plate of nachos?  No problem if not; there are lots of other things that look good to me."  If the LW would find that too hard to say no to, then I think she is just looking for trouble.  Now that I think of it, that is what I usually say -- but I still think it's unfair to call a simple "Want to split some nachos?" as rude, pushy, or bullying.  If [general] you find that hard to say no to, that's on you.  Say yes or no, but don't blame your friends.

Kittens1988

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #50 on: September 16, 2017, 06:30:48 PM »

I vividly remember one time my family and I were ordering takeout from a restaurant. I said I wanted this special pizza they had, and a relative suggested we split it, since "you're not going to eat that whole thing." (It was a smallish pizza, maybe 14 inches.)

I said, a touch resentfully, "I am starving. I haven't eaten all day. I am going to make every attempt to eat the whole thing."

Well, it was clear that my relative thought I was a total glutton, and then declared that in that case, she didn't want anything. It led to more hemming and hawing from everyone else, and we wound up getting food from somewhere else entirely. I was not pleased.  >:(

Pizza is one of my favourite foods, so I wouldn't be impressed either!  :'(

My mum rarely finishes her food when we go out for dinner and usually wants to share a starter and/or dessert if she's having one. I know it's because she's worried about the calories, but sometimes I wish she'd just relax and treat herself once in a while.

I was once having dinner with my her and my aunt and we were looking at the dessert menu. I said I was going to have the panna cotta as I'd enjoyed it last time I'd been. My aunt asked mum if she was having anything and she said "Hmm, I'll maybe just share Kittens1988's"!  :o  I didn't respond at all, I wasn't paying so it didn't feel that easy to just refuse. Anyway, she picked a small portion of ice cream instead so it worked out fine! She's commented before on how one of her colleagues had ordered a dessert when they all went out for dinner and "she didn't even offer any of us any!"  ::)

lowspark

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #51 on: October 13, 2017, 11:32:51 AM »
<snip>
 but I didn't this time because fries are one of the few foods that aren't good leftover. 
<snip>

Just now catching up on this thread, and I couldn't resist replying to this because, coincidentally, I just had a conversation about this very thing a couple of days ago.

I chop up leftover fries into chunks and sauté them (usually no extra oil or other fat is needed) and then throw in some eggs, either scrambled or over easy, or even throw them into an omelet or frittata. It's a great way to use up those fries!
Houston 
Texas 
USA 

Allyson

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #52 on: October 14, 2017, 01:20:16 PM »
Food is so fraught, too! It's so easy to accidentally make someone else feel like you're criticizing them. I'm someone who can rarely finish a restaurant meal - I used to be able to but had some health stuff come up and can't so much anymore. I generally also won't ask to share with someone because I like taking my leftovers home. Once I ate about half my food and the rest in a bag for later. Met up with some people and had somebody else ask for the rest.  "Sorry, no, I'm going to eat it later tonight"  "Well, I haven't eaten all day!" It was a bit odd. I've also had people take it as a personal critique if they eat more than I do.  And give a ton of explanations.  "I never eat this much but I hardly ate breakfast and I am going to be working out later so . . " It's kind of awkward because I barely notice what anybody else is eating but can't really say "that's nice, I don't care" which is my actual thought process. :D

gellchom

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #53 on: October 14, 2017, 02:41:39 PM »
Food is so fraught, too! It's so easy to accidentally make someone else feel like you're criticizing them. I'm someone who can rarely finish a restaurant meal - I used to be able to but had some health stuff come up and can't so much anymore. I generally also won't ask to share with someone because I like taking my leftovers home. Once I ate about half my food and the rest in a bag for later. Met up with some people and had somebody else ask for the rest.  "Sorry, no, I'm going to eat it later tonight"  "Well, I haven't eaten all day!" It was a bit odd. I've also had people take it as a personal critique if they eat more than I do.  And give a ton of explanations.  "I never eat this much but I hardly ate breakfast and I am going to be working out later so . . " It's kind of awkward because I barely notice what anybody else is eating but can't really say "that's nice, I don't care" which is my actual thought process. :D

I think they are really talking to and criticizing themselves.  You don’t have to say anything at all.

Easter Hat

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #54 on: October 14, 2017, 05:56:51 PM »
I truly appreciate the people who say, "you know, I've never enjoyed that restaurant.  Mind if we go somewhere else instead?"  Not a problem for me.  I'll happily pick another location or agree to one of their suggestions.

I had an experience this weekend that seems to apply here.

I was planning a morning outing with two other friends.  One friend couldn't make it so it was just myself and Carrie.  We were going to do a specific thing in a specific town.  A friend of mine, who Carrie has met, had recently moved to specific town so I asked Carrie if she wanted me to ask Tracy for lunch.  She agreed enthusiastically. 

So I invite Tracy and she seems very interested.  But she also had some time issues and didn't commit.  I checked in again and she again expressed that she wanted to go but wasn't sure what time would work.  The second time I checked in I requested a commitment and I suggested that we could be flexible.  Tracy gives me her availability which doesn't line up with the plans I laid out for her.  We'd have to go out of our way and go at an inconvenient time, and be very, very flexible in order to make the get together happen.  Plus Tracy then revealed that needed to bring her two teenage children with her.

It started to feel like she was trying to do US a favor.  Like, even though she had the busy week, the other commitment, and the kid situation, she was trying her best to accommodate so that we could have her presence at the meal.  I finally said, "you know, we were sort of planning an adult only day so maybe we should catch up another time."  She seemed fine with that and all is well.  Although I have definitely learned how I could have been more firm from the beginning.

I have the dance.  I really wished she would have said, "I'd love to see you guys but Saturday isn't going to work for me.  Thanks anyway."

Also, my mother will NEVER pick a place.  If we're doing a simple fast food meal she won't even pick between Joint A or Very Similar Joint B.  Even though I know she might prefer one over the other.  She even goes as far as to say later, "Lunch at Joint A was okay.  But I really like the chicken sandwiches at Joint B."  So frustrating!! 

In the past I used to say, "Well Mom, would you have preferred Joint B? Because we could have went."  She would always say something like, "Oh no, Joint A was fine.  It's not THAT big of a deal."   

Yes, but she MADE it a BIG DEAL by refusing to pick the place.  And then throwing it my face that I picked the wrong fast food, non important, lunch place.  And then she thinks that she's "easy to please".  A real saint for not being "demanding".  Ugg.  Growing up with that sort of passive aggressiveness puts me on edge and frankly confused me in my early adult years.

nutraxfornerves

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #55 on: October 15, 2017, 10:07:46 AM »
I am in the final stages of preparing a trip to a country where “refuse all offers a few times” is an ingrained part of the culture. Guidebooks warn that this extends so far that a taxi driver, shopkeeper or waiter will refuse payment.

Visitors, the books caution, have caused dismay, consternation, or even hostile responses by innocently taking the person at their word, thinking it’s an amazing gesture of hospitality, and cheerfully walking off. Even in n a hot summer day, one writer notes, you should refuse the first offer of water. It can even extend to who goes through a door first, or who gets the most comfortable seat.

People in that culture know the signs of a genuine refusal.  Visitors usually don’t, which can be a source of trouble in social situations. 

The culture also considers initial chit chat important.

Nutrax
The plural of anecdote is not data

Two Ravens

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #56 on: October 15, 2017, 11:35:43 AM »
I am in the final stages of preparing a trip to a country where “refuse all offers a few times” is an ingrained part of the culture. Guidebooks warn that this extends so far that a taxi driver, shopkeeper or waiter will refuse payment.

Visitors, the books caution, have caused dismay, consternation, or even hostile responses by innocently taking the person at their word, thinking it’s an amazing gesture of hospitality, and cheerfully walking off. Even in n a hot summer day, one writer notes, you should refuse the first offer of water. It can even extend to who goes through a door first, or who gets the most comfortable seat.

People in that culture know the signs of a genuine refusal.  Visitors usually don’t, which can be a source of trouble in social situations. 

The culture also considers initial chit chat important.

Is there a reason you're not naming the country? I'd be interested to know...

TurtleDove

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #57 on: October 15, 2017, 12:58:40 PM »
^^ I am curious whether this extends to business transactions. Sounds like a nightmare!

Winterlight

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #58 on: October 15, 2017, 01:11:12 PM »
That sounds confusing as heck.
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
Caroline Lake Ingalls

nutraxfornerves

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Re: Carolyn Hax on "I don't like to say no" = "You are rude to ask"
« Reply #59 on: October 15, 2017, 01:43:58 PM »
The Persian art of etiquette

"In every social interaction, from buying groceries to negotiating a nuclear deal, this highly valued behaviour dictates how people should treat each other."

Nutrax
The plural of anecdote is not data