Saturday, August 11, 2007

Some Things are Better Left Unsaid, part one


By the
Pleasant Times
Resident Etiquette Expert




I would like to give some examples of things people say that often do not make any sense, and are better left unsaid. These things might not all be considered "rude" in this day and age, but they can unknowingly hurt the feelings of others.


"Dumping Cold Water" Remarks.

Girl With a Water Can

Girl With a Water Can
Magnet

Renoir,...
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Sometimes people feel the need to dump cold water on your projects, your hopes, your dreams, or even your small positive-sounding observations about things. Perhaps these people are not even aware that they are doing it. Here are some examples:

You are showing enthusiastically someone your new kitchen paint job, it is your favorite color of apple green and it goes with your apple themed dish collection. Your neighbor comes over and says, "it looks real nice. But my husband would never let me paint my kitchen green, and my son hates apples. But that is nice for you." (this is different from the friendly, "I wish I could do that too" kind of remark.)


You share your dreams of becoming a world-famous pianist with your cousin. They reply, "Yes, but you don't realize how much hard work it is to practice the piano that much. And you would have to travel all the time and that would too expensive"


You are finally enjoying your retirement, picking up your favorite hobby, and telling a friend how happy you are. They in turn say something like "well, not everyone gets to stay home. The rest of us have to work."

You are wearing your favorite shoes, your pretty summer sandals, to the store, and meet an acquaintance from the country. "Those shoes would never work for the farm chores," they observe.
Kid Catastrophe

Kid Catastrophe
Giclee Print

Potthast, Edward...
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One wonders how to respond to these kinds of remarks. It takes a while to even understand how they are meant! You may wonder if you did or said something wrong. What do these people want to hear, anyway?
"Oh, your son hates apples! I'll make sure to hide them when he comes over."
"I'm sorry that my staying home and enjoying my hobbies must be an offence to others! I'll just go out and start another career."
"You are right! What could I have been thinking to want to ever improve my musical skills!"
"I'll never wear sandals again! How stupid of me!."


Obviously, those would be equally wrong things to say, which would require another article on rude and mocking responses.


Or perhaps your enthusiasm was taken the wrong way. Perhaps when you were smiling at your green kitchen, your neighbor thought you were proposing that all kitchens everywhere should be apple green, or that by wearing sandals to the grocery store you were advocating sandal wearing as the only right way to dress.

Or perhaps a little more conversation could reveal whether the person meant to put you down, is jealous of you, or if they just could not think of anything to say and the cold water remark was the first thing that popped into their head. But, do you really want to know?

It is best to ignore the remark, and gently change the subject.


Greenaway Children, II



Greenaway Children, II
Art Print

Greenaway, Kate
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It can be easy to slip into the habit of being a cold-water-dumper, so we need to be careful to think about what we are saying. If someone is enthusiastic about something, we should respond in an appropriate way, and share in their joy. If someone likes to decorate their living room with bright pink flamingos, and shows you proudly, then you can always smile and say how bright they are, or how you can tell that they really make the other person happy. Inwardly you may be thinking that you could not stand to look at that all day, but since you don't have to, there is no harm in keeping that thought to yourself! Or, it may be the kind of situation that does not require you to say anything.

Won't You Have Some?




Won't You Have Some?

Art Print


Morgan, Frederick


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Editor's Note: The examples put forth here are all made up, and are not actual quotes.
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