Log in

No account? Create an account
13 March 2013 @ 02:57 pm
Why don't you just fuck off?  
As a rule, any time you are about to start a statement, "Why don't you just ...", you should keep your mouth shut and think more carefully about the topic from the perspective of the person you're talking to. You are almost certainly about to oversimplify in a dismissive and insulting way.

If you are the subject of a "Why don't you just ...", I hereby deputize you to sign the speaker up for a lifetime supply of personal visits from Scientology evangelists.
yixyix on March 13th, 2013 10:04 pm (UTC)
Funny, I thought the end of "Why don't you just..." WAS "shut the fuck up."

Boring Nerd: wolf kahnsignsoflife on March 14th, 2013 06:42 pm (UTC)
What about "why don't you just kick 'em where it hurts?"
harimad on March 13th, 2013 10:14 pm (UTC)
My colleague was recently the subject of such a sentence. I'll pass on your deputization to her because it was a really annoying conversation - the questioner was trying to pass the buck for a minor mistake ze made.

In general, a question that starts with "Why" tends to be perceived as very aggressive. Generally I find it's worth the effort to find a different way to phrase the inquiry.
Will O'the Wispwotw on March 13th, 2013 10:42 pm (UTC)
I tend to interpet "Why don't you just..." as "I am not seeing what the problem is here, and I'd like to understand it so I can help you. By way of enlightening me, can you explain why you can't just do _____?"

I say "Why don't you just..." all the time, with more or less this meaning, and I know a lot of people who say it to me very often, with more or less this meaning. I'm usually grateful to be asked this, because it gives me a chance to articulate my problem more clearly.
Boring Nerd: wolf kahnsignsoflife on March 13th, 2013 11:13 pm (UTC)
I usually try to find a different way to ask that kind of question, though I find that kind of question very interesting and informative to ask. Like, I'll ask someone to walk me through their reasoning process, and then I can just ask questions at appropriate points. I learn more about HOW they're thinking, I learn the various stuff they already know, and I'm in less danger of oversimplifying the problem.
blkblk on March 13th, 2013 11:53 pm (UTC)
Having vaguely known you for a while, I'm going to venture a suggestion that this may be somewhat particular to you. As in, if YOU were to ask me that question, I would most likely interpret it the way you explained above. If the vast majority of other people I can think of were to ask me that question, I would probably interpret them as trying to be helpy, and be annoyed that they assumed I had not actually thought through my problem.
... in a handbasketinahandbasket on March 14th, 2013 02:54 am (UTC)
I'm with you on this one WOTW.
I guess I'll consider my phrasing more carefully, but I find "what's wrong with doing..." to be a good way to probe deeper into understanding the issue.
Chance: teacher - doris daymiss_chance on March 14th, 2013 07:22 am (UTC)
The red-flag in the question is the word "just."

What follows is almost certainly a suggestion that sounds like it would obviously be a simpler approach to the person asking. But if the person you're asking this of approximately the same or better competency/knowledge level as you, than it's very likely that there is a good reason why the thing following "just" is more complicated than it seems.

There's about a mile wide swath of difference between "Why don't you just do y?" and
"What are the complications behind doing y?"

The former is disrespectful. The latter is a way to seek information from a person presumed to have done some research or have some knowledge.

The presence of the word "just" strongly implies that you believe the person you're talking with has not considered this 'simple' solution. This can be extremely frustrating, annoying, and belittling to someone who has carefully weighed x vs y, and decided x was better. They might be wrong about this, and maybe y really is better, but if they've done their homework likely it's by a slender margin, and not "just-so."

The absence of "just" and the active acknowledgement of possible complications of y, implies that you respect the research that the person you're talking to has done, and want to understand it better.

In my experience "Why don't we just..." referring to a group or collaborative activity is almost always a way to make the job of the person speaking easier by making far work for someone else in the group. I used to get this in theater all the time. The carp-shop would ask why we were doing dimensional, applied moulding, when we could just have the painters do painted trim. If the production manager is competent, they have balanced the material and weight implications of applied trim against the labor and time costs of painted trim and seen the obvious advantage. And it's annoying to have this basic tenant of the job, of balancing various factors, questioned in a flippant way by someone who doesn't have the whole system in mind.
... in a handbasketinahandbasket on March 14th, 2013 12:49 pm (UTC)
Noted, thanks! I'll make sure to avoid "just" in that context.
Chancemiss_chance on March 14th, 2013 01:15 pm (UTC)
Yeah, why don't you just avoid using "just?" ;-) ;-)
porpurina: angry birdbloodstones on March 14th, 2013 04:32 am (UTC)
Yeah, me too. I was thinking about times when I've used that phrase, and realized that I was typically *actually* curious about the reason why X wouldn't work, not trying to say that X would solve the problem, so it was a way of asking for a better understanding the problem. I also realized that the set of people I would ask this question to are limited to a pretty close circle of friends who are likely to get that nuance.
Chance: blue guymiss_chance on March 14th, 2013 07:01 am (UTC)
I learned to hear "Why can't we just...?" as a sound similar to that of a tractor-trailer horn. What was coming next immediately following that sound was going to be something I very much didn't want to be in the path of.

lazyzlazyz on March 14th, 2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
Why don't you just come to Wyoming and we'll talk about this?
tickles, the angry lemurclara_girl on March 15th, 2013 06:17 am (UTC)
it's up there with "what you need to do is..."
What do you think we are, Monkeys on Sticks???goat on March 16th, 2013 01:07 am (UTC)
While they didn't use that exact phrasing, I was just the recipient of such a statement! Apparently the solution to my problem of using facebook compulsively is time management. Easy peasy. Why didn't I think of that?