Monthly Archives: September 2013

Rude questions: should we answer?

Yeah, no.  We shouldn’t.

de•co•rum: noun, di-ˈkȯr-əm
Propriety and good taste in conduct or appearance [Merriam-Webster]

When someone asks you a rude or inappropriate question, it’s not rude to refuse to answer.  You’re entitled to your dignity, and you don’t owe people private information.

Real-Life Examples:

A coworker asks if you’ve gained/lost weight.  Appropriate answers include “Excuse me?” and “That’s personal, thanks.”

A guy you have a crush on asks what kind of underwear you prefer.  Appropriate answers include “That’s private” and “Ew, why are you asking?”, preferably with a side of antarctic frigidity and/or a request for an apology.

A near-stranger asks a group of young women about their sex lives or the existence thereof.  Appropriate answers include “I’m not comfortable with that,” “I don’t feel a need to share that information,” and “buzz off, you’re being creepy.”

You don’t have to answer even less-rude questions like “Do you have a crush on Bob?” or “So are you seeing anyone?”  You get to choose whom you share information with.

What’s the harm in answering?  Well honestly, there’s very little benefit.  At best the rude one gets some form of titillation from having gotten you to describe your drawers.  Once you share info it’s no longer yours, and we all know how uncomfortable it is to end up as grist for the rumor mill, whether it’s yia-yias talking or fellow 6th graders or people you’d like to be friends with.  The internet is forever and info travels fast.
At worst this turns out to be the first of many boundaries they cross, because they know they’ll get away with it.  (Please read The Gift of Fear.)

It’s okay for it to be awkward if you don’t answer.  You didn’t make it awkward, they did.  Your refusal to answer simply acknowledges that it is already awkward for you.

Speaking up can be hard, but it’s easier if you practice 2-3 responses in front of the mirror so you don’t have to come up with an idea on the spot.  And it’s always OK to just change the subject, no transition or acknowledgement needed.  If they were miles out of line, and you preface it with a really uncomfortable silence and change the subject extra graciously to save them from their faux pas, so much the better.

Putting up with bad behavior silently means the badly-behaved ones get away with it, while everyone else has to feel uncomfortable.  That’s backwards, don’t you think?

Other answers to keep in your back pocket for rude questions, offensive statements, or unwanted advice:

…wow, awkward.  So, weather’s been really nice lately.  Any weekend plans?

Hmm, interesting.  Did your sports team win this weekend?

Excuse me, I’m going to go get some water.

Not cool.  Back to work, do you have _____ for (project) ready?

I don’t understand.  Why would you want to know _____?  Keep playing naïve and sincere until they realize how far out of line they are.  Works well for racism and sexism too, ie “Huh, why is that funny?  Do you think all _____ are _____?”

Sorry, I didn’t catch that.  What did you say? Bonus points if you can get them to repeat it three times before they realize they were out of line.

Gee, if someone didn’t know you, they might think you’re (a predator, racist, creepy).

Oh!  You don’t really mean that!

Did you really just ask that?

Um, that was your out-loud voice.

Oh, gross!

Oh dear!  This seems to really stress you out.  It’ll be okay!  Here, let’s talk about _____. Say it soothingly, interpreting their anger as panic.  Works best when someone’s gone off on a rant.

Aren’t you an interesting case study.

Okay.

Yeeeahh, no.

Thanks, I’ll think about it.

That’s nice, dear.

Thank you for sharing.

Or, just laugh (awkwardly, hysterically, incredulously—your call) and then walk away.

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Linkage: Stone Soup Edition

As in, we have no theme for this week, but we do have a few stones, noodles, and maybe some celery; does anyone have carrots, onions, or potatoes?  With a couple links from us and a couple more from you, we’ll have a great soup.  Or, weekend.  Right.

Someone wrote an essay titled Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy.  (Spoiler: the answer involves rainbow-puking unicorns, high expectations, and Facebook.)  Didn’t Time just do this?

Christopher Jones responded with a heavy dose of sarcasm and economics.  Worth reading.

Which reminds me of an article from May, Every Every Every Generation Has Been the Me Me Me Generation.

Basically, it’s not that people born after 1980 are narcissists, it’s that young people are narcissists, and they get over themselves as they get older. It’s like doing a study of toddlers and declaring those born since 2010 are Generation Sociopath: Kids These Days Will Pull Your Hair, Pee On Walls, Throw Full Bowls of Cereal Without Even Thinking of the Consequences.

Levo League gives us 5 Ways to Avoid Compare and Despair Syndrome.

Susan Basham had an encounter with a badly-behaved stranger in the drive-thru.  Instead of outrage, she found empathy.

The Sounding’s Meg Photini Englebach (an OCMC missionary) talks about the waiting place as it relates to Abraham and Paul (and Dr Seuss, of course).

Amanda Bast, who’s in the waiting place, requests we not ask/nag her about tomorrow’s dreams (like marriage and a stable career) but appreciate today’s blessings.

Emily Heist Moss is sorry, but it’s time to talk about that constant apologizing.

Apologizing for myself will not get me promoted. It will not get me the raise. It will not get my leaky ceiling fixed faster. I think I’m being gracious, but all I’ve actually accomplished is to remind everyone around me of my own insecurity.

HuffPo gives us How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex, and Save the World in 8 Easy Steps.  (Keep breathing, Yiayia, you know we’re not really linking to sex tips on Orthogals.)

And after a 200-guest wedding in Atlanta was canceled 40 days before the wedding, they donated the reception to the homeless, especially children.

What’s on your radar this week?

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Book Review: How to Get a Date Worth Keeping

worth

This book is not about learning to be happily single. In fact, it assumes that the reader is rather miserable about it and would rather die than spend another Valentine’s day having a dinner party with other single friends or having to show up unattached to another holiday event.

The subtitle is “Be Dating in Six Months or Your Money Back”. And I wonder, did the author come up with that, or did the marketing department make him do it?

Probably the former. The book starts off with an anecdote about a single woman in her mid 30s mentioning that God had not chosen the life of a wife and mother for her. Dr. Cloud disagrees and tells her that if she submits to everything he tells her to do, he guarantees she will be dating someone in six months. Yeah, that’s not creepy or anything. He goes on to state that the reason he thinks this attractive, outgoing woman is single is because she is too passive and that she has some “personal dynamics interfering with her getting married”.

Dr. Cloud challenges this woman to interact with at least five men every week that she has never met before. She can talk to people in line at Starbucks, at church, wherever. In doing this exercise, she realizes that she has an internal monologue that tells her negative things when she’s interacting with men. When she’s able to shut the negativity off and grow, she is able to meet the man that she ends up marrying.

OK, that’s all well and good for Miss Example, but I resent the implication that the reason people are single is because there’s something wrong with them and if only they’d fix it, they’d find true love. In other parts of the book he backpedals a bit and admits that not having found the right person is not completely under a single person’s power, but he makes it pretty clear that he thinks most single people have something broken inside them. I imagine St. Paul might disagree.

Look, I didn’t completely hate this book. It has good sections on being real and honest about who you are, encouraging male readers to take the lead in pursuing a woman, dating as a Christian, and others.

I liked the parts where he talks about singles needing to break out of their stagnant and routine lives. However, I think this might be a problem for people in general, whether single or married.  Just think of all the advice out there for long-term married couples on the importance of spicing things up. Also, I don’t think you should go to activities and develop hobbies in the hopes of finding someone to date/marry. That’s just a set up for disappointment.

It’s up for debate whether people should date casually and as many people as they can. Yes, dating can lead to understanding what you are and aren’t looking for in a spouse. But finding the right person isn’t just about numbers. On the other hand, Dr. Cloud also tells singles is to keep it casual and to not rush to judgement, whether that’s getting entangled too soon or to reject a person too quickly. Honestly, tho, casual dating is exhausting. It’s a strategy, not the strategy. Dating books that tell you that following their method leads to 100% success are just plain lying. And that’s why this book is in the “OK” dating advice book pile, not the “Great” pile.

I appreciate the wake up call that God isn’t going to bring you a spouse just because you expect Him to in some kind of cosmic bargain you have drawn up with Him (in your head). I get the impression that there is an overemphasis in some circles of Protestantism on marriage and a devaluation of the single life and that has lead to some pretty wonky beliefs and practices. So, I think this book would ultimately be good for Protestants who grew up with a certain kind of expectation for God to bring them a spouse.

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Linkage: On Giving

This week’s theme: giving, and how to do it in a healthy way.  For many varieties of giving, of course.

Don’t Be His Cooky-Baking Slave [The Fairy Blogmother]
Auntie Seraphic makes the very Rules-y point that endless giving does not respect gain.  You have to have good boundaries and a healthy respect for yourself, which generally does not include doing whatsisname’s dishes in the hopes he’ll suddenly see you as his perfect mate.

Although it is now The Most Important Thing in the World ™, we know men don’t respect women who offer or give up their favours generously and indiscriminately. We know men never have conversations that go like this: “Wow. So-and-so is a great girl. She never lets a guy go without, no matter who he is or how lousy he treats her. Respect.” “I hear you, man. The man who marries her will be really lucky. And she’ll make a great mother, too.” “You bet. She’s a living saint.” We know that doesn’t happen.

*

The Blonde You Shouted At [Craigslist, via Gawker]
A Minneapolis woman uses Cragislist’s missed connections section to tell a street harasser how to give compliments.

Let me make this abundantly clear, to you and to the other men reading this: when you comment on a woman’s appearance, you are not doing it for her. You are doing it for you. It’s not some great way to make a woman feel sexy and appreciated. It’s not flattery, even if you mean for it to be. The only thing it is is a great way for you to create a [crappy] power dynamic, by which you have announced yourself as the arbiter of her value, and you’ve deemed her [screwable], and she is supposed to be happy or impressed by that.

*

I Didn’t Love My Wife When We Got Married [PopChassid]
Pop Chassid writes about the difference between love as a self-oriented feeling like passion (cf. Hollywood, Nashville) and love as an act of giving.

That emotion meant love!  That excitement was how I knew I cared for her!  But suddenly, life was this grind.  Even when I was with her.  Especially when I was with her.

And even worse, it seemed that the harder I tried to be sentimental and lovey-dovey, the less it was reciprocated.

But it wasn’t that she wasn’t giving me love, it just seemed to come at different times.

Like, when I offered to do the dishes.  Or make dinner after she had a hard day.  Or, once we had a daughter, when I shared the responsibility of watching over her.

*

Giving is the Best Communication. [TrueMove]
We’ll go ahead and end on a tearjerker.  It’s an ad, but it’s a good one.

*

Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.
Matthew 25:45

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Tiderip

This tiderip where the water is always troubled,
This place where the smoothest seas erupt
To toss and buffet, this place of no peace—
You know what it is—this hidden shallows
Where the rocks reach up to graze the skin
Of your skiff—This is where the world was cut
From you. Envious, it seeks to wound you.

Mother Macaria Corbett, “Tiderip” — Endless Winter Nights at Monk’s Lagoon

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Piña Coladas, Long Walks on the Beach

username: LiveLoveLaugh2013

My self-summary: Gosh, what do I say in these things? LOL! I can’t believe I’m trying internet dating, but my friend swears this site is good, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
I have an old soul but am young at heart. I love to laugh and have a good time. I can be sarcastic. I’m loyal, spontaneous, open-minded, and laid-back. I’m really down to earth, and I have a big heart. I like to live every moment of my life to the fullest! I’m passionate about everything I do.
I want to be treated like a lady. I look just as good in a little black dress and heels as I do in jeans or sweats!

What I’m doing with my life: Living it!

I’m really good at: making ppl smile! 😉

What I’m looking for:
Looking for my knight in shining armor! I’ve kissed a lot of frogs, so I’m hoping for a prince. LOL I’m a hopeless romantic. 🙂
I want a man who knows what he wants, doesn’t take himself too seriously, and can laugh at himself. Sense of humor is a must for me! If you can make me laugh that is a huge bonus!
It doesn’t matter what you’re passionate about, as long as you’re passionate about something!

The first things people usually notice about me: my eyes n smile 🙂 🙂 🙂

My favorites: I ❤ music—everything but rap and country! My favorite books are Eat, Pray, Love and Twilight.

The six things I could never do without: my family, iPhone, friends, um…I’ll get back to you on that LOL

I spend a lot of time thinking about: romance 🙂

On a typical Friday night I am: I like to go out and have a good time with friends, but sometimes I like to stay in.

The most private thing I’m willing to admit here: If I put it on here, then it wouldn’t be that private would it ? 😉

You should message me if: If you think you can handle me! I don’t do drama. I don’t want a player. If you’re just going to cheat, don’t bother. Ugh, I’m so tired of games! Please show me all men aren’t pigs.
If you’ve gotten this far, you should definately send me an email! I don’t bite, I promise! LOL!

* * *

username: princecharming4u

My self-summary: Man, I don’t know what to say. I lost a bet so I had to make a profile…
My friends and family would probably say I’m loyal, hard working, but still totally laid back. I’m just an average guy who likes to chill. I’m a nice guy, pretty active, funny, intelligent and straightforward. My friends and family are very important to me.
I enjoy the finer things of life. I love to travel! I like the beach, mountains, fine dining, sunsets, wine. I know how to treat a woman like a lady.
I’m really laid back and looking for a partner in crime to take advantage of everything this city has to offer while living life to the fullest.  I work hard and play hard. What you see is what you get.

What I’m looking for: I’m looking for someone fun loving! I want to have my last first date. I’m looking for a good-hearted woman who can be my special someone.
I don’t want a gold-digger, a liar or a drama queen.
I’m looking for a girl that looks as good in a baseball cap and jeans as in a little black dress. Someone attractive, interesting, intelligent, fun and sweet. I’m as comfortable in jeans as I am a tux.

The first things people usually notice about me: I’m tall.

My favorites:  I love to eat good food. I love listening to all kinds of music. I love to travel. I love to have fun. I live life to the fullest.

The six things I could never do without: air, shelter, food, water, family, YOU

On a typical Friday night I am: probably out with friends

The most private thing I’m willing to admit here: If I told you I’d have to kill you! LOL. I hate talking about myself, but I’m an open book, so if you want to know anything, just ask.

Message me if: you want!

* * *

Do you see the problem here?

These profiles say nothing specific, though they repeat themselves frequently—they’re almost obnoxiously bland.  They were created by mixing together as many clichés and stereotypes as I could find, and to my horror I realized I’d read at least a dozen profiles like these.

There’s a lot of words there that don’t really MEAN anything, and many are impossible.  I guarantee that you are not passionate about everything you do.  And if you are truly passionate about wiping the silverware dry as you take them out of the dishwasher, then you are insane and I want nothing to do with you.

Generic adjectives like attractive, interesting, intelligent, fun and sweet are so subjective that they’re basically useless.  What does it mean that you’re laid-back?  In reference to what?  Are you trying to say you’re not high maintenance, or that you’re a hardcore homebody, or that you don’t get riled up over the small stuff? Great!  Say that instead.

Here, have some examples.

Literally says nothing unique about you: I love to laugh.

  • Honestly, when’s the last time you met someone who said they hate laughing?  (I thrive on tedium and have cultivated a superb scowl.)  “I like to enjoy myself” is a tautology, and a particularly inane one.

Better: I’m lighthearted, or I have a dry sense of humor and collect bad puns, or I’ve memorized everything Monty Python ever made.

*

Says darn near nothing about the person you’re looking for: I’m looking for someone attractive, interesting, and fun.

  • Gee, who isn’t?

Better: I’m a sucker for green eyes and big muscles, or I love being able to have long conversations where literature, stories from our childhoods, and world events all intertwine, or I really want someone I can go rock climbing with, and make cheesy knock-knock jokes all the way up the ascent.

*

Says nothing particularly illuminating about you: I live life to the fullest.

  • How many people do you know who openly admit to half-assing their lives?

Better: I love the thrill of pushing myself for a goal. I make an effort to pay attention the many blessings life offers, big and small, and to never take anything for granted. I fail of course, but hey—try, try again, right?

*

Says something, but it’s both vague and somewhat foreboding: I work hard and play hard.

  • What, do you make execs cry in the boardroom and then come home to do a line of coke?  Do you manage 200 head of dairy cattle and the state’s largest organic cabbage farm, but stay out at the disco til 3am? This does not necessarily sound balanced or healthy, and it’s really nonspecific. What does this mean?!

Better: I love my job (at a PR firm working mostly with non-profits) and tend to put in a few extra hours, but I don’t take work home with me.  To unwind, I really love going for long runs on the trail, though I’ll never say no to a fierce game of Scrabble and a glass of scotch.

Do you see the difference?  Good.  Now go forth and fix your bloody profile.

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Linkage: List Edition

Interesting things from elsewhere on the internet.  This week, it’s a list of lists.
Have a great weekend!

Stuff Not to Say to your Single 30-something Friend [xoJane]

24 Things Single People Are Tired of Hearing [Buzzfeed]

25 Things I Want Myself to Know at 25 [Huffington Post]

19 Things to Stop Doing in Your 20s [The Buried Life]

5 Reasons Your Online Dating Profile Isn’t Working [Cracked] — language warning; though directed at men, it’s useful for all of us

10 Rules for Dating My Son [ChicagoNow]

How to Make Someone Fall in Love With You [Barking up the Wrong Tree]

Making It Last: Profiles of 25+-year marriages [NY Times]

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Remember

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Be assertive.

I rewrote the title of this post three times before I could let it sit as simply, “Be assertive.” I tried things along the lines of “The Value of Being Assertive” or “The Squeaky Wheel” or “Sometimes, you have to ask for what you want” first—gentler, less direct options designed to encourage you to be assertive without actually making it a command.

Ha.

Anyway, I bought a cheap Goody hairbrush a month ago, and last week I was dismayed to realize that the rubber coating on the bristles was wearing away—my morning routine was becoming painful, and I was going to need a new brush.  I didn’t want to have to buy a new one already, so I did a quick search of Goody’s website and found their contact form.  I didn’t expect anything to come of it, but I wrote a quick note:

Hey there, I’m feeling a little frustrated. I bought a grey paddle-style hairbrush from you a month or two ago and the rubber coating on the bristle tips is coming off–it’s definitely becoming painful. Would you be up for replacing the hairbrush?

I wasn’t rude or demanding.  I still dithered a bit—”Would you be up for replacing the hairbrush?” instead of “Please send a replacement”—and I honestly didn’t think they’d even read my comments.  But to my surprise, three days later I got an email.  Pick out a replacement of comparable value from their website, it said, and they’d include a prepaid envelope so I could mail the crummy brush back for their engineers to mess with.

The brush I was interested in was a little more expensive than the brush they were replacing.  I didn’t want to claim it was of comparable value, but it didn’t hurt to ask.  After all, no harm done if they said “nope, choose again.”  So I just said, “I’d love to try this brush, if that’s all right.”  And then I never heard back.

But a few days ago I got a package in the mail.  I now have a new “Heritage Collection” brush, Goody may learn something from my hard head destroying the other one, and my hair feels amazing.

Moral of the story?  Well, partly to say that it’s worth giving your business to companies that want to protect their good name and that listen to their consumers.  Partly to plug this rather delightful new brush of mine, because good customer service deserves a callout.  But mostly to remind you that you get to make your voice heard.

There are times to be gentle and beat around the bush and imply things.  There is value in that, and there’s a reason we’re taught to do it.  But there are also times to cut to the chase and be upfront about what you want.  You’re allowed to say, “I’d like ______, please.”  Even if _____ is an inconvenience.  Even if you’re not guaranteed to get it.  Even if, even if, even if.  You get to speak up.

It can be so uncomfortable.  As often as not, it won’t do any good.  You still won’t get what you asked for, much of the time.  And that’s okay.  Your odds are a damn sight better than if you just sit there wishing silently.

I still wasn’t hugely direct when making my requests.  I have to work on that.  I still spend a lot of time and effort not-saying things, because I’m still figuring out how to speak boldly—I don’t want to become a harpy, but I also don’t want to become a doormat.  It’s easier when it needs to be said, when I’m speaking up for someone who needs me or against some grand injustice where many voices need to be heard.  But our voices deserve to be heard over little things too, and it’s a good life skill to have in the arsenal.  A crucial one, in fact.

Many women I know are very sensitive to the effects of their requests, sometimes too sensitive.  There’s a link between being open with one’s desires and trusting that it’s okay to be vulnerable enough to say what you want.  It takes courage to speak up.  It also requires paying attention and noticing that there’s something you need, and preferably recognizing what it is.

And too, we have to trust that the other person can handle the request without becoming resentful or guilt-ridden if they can’t acquiesce.  Especially in relationship and business situations, you need to be willing to speak up.  Your mama can’t read your mind to know that you now hate hooded sweatshirts, and she’ll send one every Christmas unless you say you’d love to receive her favorite novel instead.  Your boyfriend doesn’t know that his new cologne reminds you of your ex, your roommate genuinely wants to know what you’d like for dinner, and your boss (or client) will pay you as little as you’ll accept.  Even if your request is denied or thwarted this time, it’ll still be a net win.  They’ll know more about your needs and wishes, you’ll know more about how the two of you handle this sort of situation, and you’ll know you can speak up about more and harder things in the future.  Communication is a Very Good Thing.

There’s a difference between being assertive and being aggressive.  Being rude is aggressive.  Being demanding is aggressive.  Acting entitled is obnoxious and often aggressive.  It’s aggressive to say, “You need to give me a new hairbrush yesterday!”  It’s aggressive to say, “Your company is horrible and my hairbrush is lousy and I’m gonna smear your name all over the internet unless you placate me.”  It’s aggressive to say, “If you don’t give me a new hairbrush, I’m calling my lawyer.”  (Nota bene: There are times when, to protect yourself, you may need to be aggressive.  And calling a lawyer is not necessarily aggressive in all situations.  But if your initial contact is threatening to sue over a broken brush, that’s aggressive.)

It’s assertive to say, “I’d like a replacement brush.”  It’s assertive to say, “Actually, I’d prefer pasta for dinner.”  It’s assertive to say, “That comment made me uncomfortable.” And there is nothing wrong with that.

So.  Be assertive.

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Linkage: Friendship Edition

Good stuff elsewhere on the internets

Friendship: the newly-discovered stress reliever [Verily Mag]

Seraphic’s pep talk: The best part of the single years are girlfriends [Seraphic Singles]

Contrariwise, Mother Gavrilla Papayannis once said, “There are people who deprive us of our solitude without offering us company.” [Caelum et Terra]

Thoughts on strong bonds of friendship for single, celibate Christians [Spiritual Friendship]

Friendship Attachment Styles and how to handle the differences [Captain Awkward]

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