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15 November 2010 @ 03:36 pm
social etiquette query  
I know that it's rude to tell someone when they're being rude, and, per Miss Manners, I will usually try to find a subtle and polite way of indicating when someone's behavior is out of bounds in a social situation.

Sometimes, the person is someone I feel like I can talk to about it after the fact -- most obviously, a partner falls into this category, where I can go back and talk about it later, especially if it's something that could come up again and I'd rather it didn't.

But what about when it's a friend? Do you bring it up when you see a friend behaving rudely or in a way that bothers you? How do decide to bring it up, and how do bring it up once you've decided?

Would you want someone to bring up some social faux pas to you? If so, how, and in what circumstances?
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I'm feeling: frustratedfrustrated
 
 
 
existential hot showerveek on November 15th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
Goodness knows I'm highly imperfect in situations like this. But here's how it goes in my head.

When I want to bring up a friend's behavior to that friend after the fact, it's mostly because I don't think they were aware of the effect and/or ripples. That being a sensitive subject, I prefer to bring it up when I'm in a good place to phrase it well, and my friend is in a place to hear it. Otherwise, I'm more likely (though not 100%) to stay quiet: that's better than damaging a friendship *and* failing to achieve the desired effect.

I have a double standard on this: I'd want someone to bring up my own social faux pas pretty much always. Not in a belligerent manner, either, so now I'm wanting them to be brave and diplomatic. Ideally, they'd do it when I'm in a place to hear it (i.e., in some situations, read my mind). Hey, a girl can dream.
Theory Slut: Asanadesiringsubject on November 15th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
I prefer it when they do. When it has happened to me, 90% of the time it was something I had no idea that had happened. The sentence that had another completely valid interpretation I didn't see. The person I talked over that I didn't notice I did it. The rule of etiquette I was unaware of. I like it when the person bringing it up is willing to listen to my interpretation or read on what happened (if I'm aware at all) because I've definitely had people bring a thing up and be like "Oh, I don't care what was going on there, I just think you shouldn't do that." And that makes me infuriated, especially because oftentimes that doesn't give me enough information to even begin to stop it from happening another time. One of my resolutions is to be better about admitting when I'm wrong, and that begins with admitting that there's a possibility that I might be wrong even when I think I'm right*, so I hope that over time it will get even easier for people to bring stuff like that to me.

As for bringing it up to other people... I like to do it in real time if two things are not true: 1) If I'm not directly offended and 2) I don 't think the person's angry. If either of those things are true it's really hard for me to say anything at all. I have spoken up when I thought that someone was being mean only to have them say "But it's true, so..." and then I don't know what to do. And if I'm the one directly offended, I usually don't have the heart to say anything. I just get sad.

* I actually think I'm quite good at admitting when I'm wrong when it is clear to me that I am wrong. It's only when I think I'm right, opening up that crack to check and see if I *might* be wrong that terrifies me.
Molotov Coqtizeestiplika on November 15th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC)
If i have an honest, loving friendship with someone wherein that kind of conversation is possible in a constructive manner, i would want to know. I think context matters, phrasing matters, and what veek said, too: when the timing is more or less right in terms of everyone being able to listen and hear each other with minimal defensiveness.

Even though i dread these conversations personally from both ends (because i have a constant fear of being misunderstood AND of making cultural, social faux pas and i am pretty sure both of the things are true *all of the time* because i am that kind of a nervous piglet by nature), and they can be difficult, whenever i have had them they have made my friendships stronger.

Molotov Coqtizeestiplika on November 15th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
Also: sometimes, when it is something that does not involve hugely hurt feelings or the potential for that kind of thing, i find a simple, direct, real time comment is the best. I have done and received both, and find it just helpful in terms of navigating "how things are done in a particular context."

"I would prefer that you washed your hands before doing that" or "Just so you know, in our culture, it is generally considered rude to point at things directly with your index finger and more appropriate to indicate with your whole hand" etc. are some examples of this kind of thing.
Rowan: Fallmzrowan on November 15th, 2010 09:08 pm (UTC)
Hm...like the other commenters so far, I'd want someone to tactfully let me know when they felt I'd behaved rudely, although it's always really hard to hear.

As for bringing it up, it's also hard, of course. I think I'm mostly likely to do it if I'm close to the person and I think that the conversation could be constructive -- i.e., that this is something that is amenable to change, and that change would improve their social life (or prevent further damage). So if I think it's just a one-off, or not something they can easily work on, I'm less likely to bring it up.
funner'n a sack a weaselsmoominmolly on November 15th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
not something they can easily work on

Well put. That's the kind of thing I'm a lot less likely to bring up, as well, unless I know I have the kind of relationship with the person that could tolerate that.
Rowan: Fallmzrowan on November 15th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, and as for *how* to bring it up, I'd focus on the effect -- "I noticed you sometimes do this thing that seems to make people feel...", and offer any suggestions I might have for alternate behaviour.
jordanwillow: billu: let it gojordanwillow on November 15th, 2010 09:08 pm (UTC)
I am grateful to loved ones -- or, if they're not available, polite people whom I trust -- for pointing out my blind spots. I appreciate it when they do it gently and are then prepared to deal with a little bit of melodramatic distress/guilt on my part. That puts a lot on the shoulders of the person, I know. I am working on curbing the expressions of guilt and distress. I make too big a deal out of things a lot of the time.
funner'n a sack a weaselsmoominmolly on November 15th, 2010 09:08 pm (UTC)
Telling people about things: I am a lot more likely to tell someone about a faux pas if I'm close to them. The more distant a relationship I have with someone, the more likely I am to say either "we don't have a close enough relationship for me to say this" or "maybe we just have different understandings about what's appropriate here". There are some situations that almost always warrant a mention, though -- harassment, etc.

As for being on the receiving end, I think that quicker is better. Learning that someone's been nursing a hurt for months makes me feel much worse.
Theory Slut: Bald and Bluedesiringsubject on November 15th, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC)
"I think that quicker is better. Learning that someone's been nursing a hurt for months makes me feel much worse."

I totally agree. But I frequently have a different situation that LOOKS like that situation and based on experience, I handle it badly. (I.e. I handle it in such a way that it looks like nursing something for months.)

I reasonably frequently have the circumstance arise where I realize much later that something hurt my feelings, or seemed rude, or racist, or whatever. Like, it took as much as a few months for the thing to sink in. And then when I bring it up, the person thinks I've been nursing it, when really, it only just came up for me as a thing. I wish I could figure out how to handle that better.

(It usually relates to some kind of panic response. Something "bad" is happening and I get freaked out and do my best to leave asap. Having left, I quickly dissociate and forget the thing happened or re-narrativize what happened into something un-upsetting. Then it takes a while to re-tear-down that set of walls I built up around the situation. It's a thing. It happens less than it used to, but it still happens.)
funner'n a sack a weaselsmoominmolly on November 15th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
That makes sense, and that kind of delayed response totally happens to me too! For what it's worth, if I'm on the receiving end of something like that, my weird feelings are entirely defused by someone saying something like "I swear I haven't been sitting here feeling bad for months -- I just realized what was going on for me". I never know if that works for anyone else, though.
Elizabeth Hunterlillibet on November 15th, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
The only time recently that it's come up, the person in question realized that things had gang agley and asked what my take on the situation was, giving me the opening to say "I was very hurt and felt that you were extremely rude," which I think went over ok, under the circumstances.

Generally, I stack it up on that person's account and if it seems like a pattern, I try to find a way to talk about that, and if it was a one-off, I tend to get over it. If I do not find a way to talk to them about it, then it affects the relationship over time.

I'm fairly sensitive to having my behavior corrected. There are friends who can do it gently and I appreciate that. My mother-in-law is not one of them.
Co-conspirator of Squeemuffyjo on November 15th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
If it's a pattern or a situation that can be corrected, I'd say that the friend would probably want to know. If it was something that can't be changed and would only add salt to a bad situation, I'd say leave it be and find a better opportunity to talk about handling similar situations if they come up in the future.
Blue Gargantuabluegargantua on November 16th, 2010 01:01 am (UTC)

I'd kinda like to be called out on it. Maybe not right then.

You know what'd be awesome? If there was some established code phrase that meant "dude, you're out of bounds". Which ALSO came with the social agreement that if it got used, everyone else in the conversation would "not notice" that the code phrase had come out nor that the rude person had suddenly shut up (and maybe quietly excused themselves).

later
Tom
Chipceo on November 16th, 2010 04:02 am (UTC)
Ooh, I like this. Perhaps also with the social agreement that it not be used lightly, and that the recipient is expected to take it seriously even if they don't necessarily agree (saving their disagreement for a private conversation later, perhaps.)
David Policardpolicar on November 16th, 2010 03:49 am (UTC)
I generally don't bring it up. I admire people who do, but I'm not one of them.

On those rare occasions when I do, I try to own it... that is, to frame it as "I was bothered by X" (or "hurt," or "frightened," or whatever it was) rather than "It was inappropriate for you to X." Or, if I wasn't negatively impacted by it but someone else was, I might frame it as "I think so-and-so was bothered/hurt/frightened/whatever by X". I find all of this relatively terrifying.

If there wasn't anyone who I think was negatively impacted but I still disapprove of the behavior, I try to take seriously the possibility that I'm the one with a problem and the behavior is actually just fine. If the person is someone I trust, I might say precisely that, but I have to trust them enough to believe that they won't interpret that as a passive-aggressive way of telling them I think they're wrong. If not, I might ask a third party for a judgment.

As for other people bringing things up to me: I hate being told I'm wrong. But I hate even more thinking someone might believe I'm wrong and not mention it. And the only way I can avoid the latter is by encouraging the former. So, it's a tradeoff; on balance, I prefer to be told.
funner'n a sack a weaselsmoominmolly on November 16th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
So, it's a tradeoff; on balance, I prefer to be told.

That, exactly.
Chipceo on November 16th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
I absolutely want to be called out on a social faux pas. Because if not, I'm likely to go right on being a clueless boor, and nobody wants that. :-)
funner'n a sack a weaselsmoominmolly on November 16th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
I have to say, I admire this attitude. I *want* to want to be called out on a social faux pas, but really I'm so tentative and hesitant and defensive whenever I even think of the abstract idea of it that I don't envy anyone who has to do it. So, I suppose I far prefer being called out to NOT being called out, but I don't think I could go as far as to say I absolutely want that.
whynotkaywhynotkay on November 16th, 2010 05:58 am (UTC)
I would definitely like people to tell me when I'm making a social faux pas. They don't. I know I'm not perfect (far from it), and I occasionally catch myself, so I know it's happening... but I don't seem to get direct feedback.

I definitely have given people feedback before, and not always in the best possible way (especially when I feel that their actions embarrassed me). I do need to work on doing that better.


Was there a particular incident that caused this post today or an ongoing issue or ...?
ruthless compassion: martini handsaroraborealis on November 16th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
Was there a particular incident that caused this post today or an ongoing issue or ...

Both, actually: a particular incident, which is representative of an ongoing issue.