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20 February 2015 @ 09:04 am
Confessional 2015  
Tell me a secret! Tell me a not-secret! Whisper sweet somethings in my comment box. Express your maddest crush or deepest curiosity! Expound upon the fabulousness of your friends or lovers or would-be friends or lovers! Or people you know or want to know. Do it anonymously or with your name attached; anonymous commenting is on and IP logging is off.

You know you want to!

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[Link to flat version of comments is here.]

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ETA: IP logging is back on!
 
 
I'm feeling: curiouscurious
 
 
 
(Anonymous) on February 23rd, 2015 01:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Okcupid date report
(OP) I am also concerned about prying, but there are totally ways to be curious without prying. On this date I totally dropped in lots of lead ins to prompt questions. "Oh, yeah, I had a boss like that once too." (Correct response: "oh?"). "Yes, I've seen that movie. I didn't like it as much as his other works." (Correct response: "why?")

Hell, you don't even need to verbally express questions after lead ins like that. A simple raise of the eyebrows and cock your head to the side says "really? Tell me more."

This is especially true in non-date situations a commenter mentioned above. A close friend who says "wow, I'm exhausted, today was a hell of a day" is INVITING you to express interest. I have trouble believing someone who doesn't accept that sort of invitation is just avoiding prying; they just don't care.
(Anonymous) on February 23rd, 2015 03:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Okcupid date report
Ahhh, unrelatedly-- I had an ex who always shut those prompts down. Drove me nuts. If she said something interesting and I said "oh?" she would say "yep." I had to ask very specific questions to get any kind of elaboration, and it felt like she was trying to be deliberately mysterious.

Obviously she had other awesome qualities, and I don't have a general conclusion here, other than: people vary more than I ever expect in what they think the standards for maintaining a conversation are.
(Anonymous) on February 23rd, 2015 03:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Okcupid date report
Cis-female, traditional gender-role raised, mostly female-identified person here, and... I gotta tell you, I am *awful* at following these prompts and asking these questions. I know it, I hate it, I hate that I do it, I try to stay aware and do better, and it *still* happens. I do care about my friends and want to hear about their lives, but there's clearly something else going on there that I haven't been able to unwire.

{No, I've never been diagnosed as on the spectrum and don't think I am.}

I've wondered if it's some variation on geek answer syndrome, or if there's some variation of socialization that's about shared stories building connection rather than inquiry. People volunteer information, rather than others asking about it, and that if someone wanted to talk about a thing, they would. Working on the premise that the person will speak if they want, and if they don't, I'm not going to ask and I'll talk to fill up the silence. So, it's less that I don't care or actively avoid prying, and more that I go in with the assumption that people are going to talk about the things they want to talk about and not talk about the things they don't.

I can tell you, realizing the missed opportunities to have asked those kinds of questions after the fact? Hurts me, and makes me very aware that I may have inadvertently hurt the person I was talking to.
(Anonymous) on February 23rd, 2015 04:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Okcupid date report
"some variation of socialization that's about shared stories building connection rather than inquiry"

(OP) I get this. I actually much prefer conversations centered around shared stories. The "social bids" I tend to make are all around shared stories...what I want, really, isn't for someone to ask "So, what do you do for a living?" (although that's fine) but to show active interest in hearing my story. Which is why I make bids like "Yeah, I had a boss like that once, too." What I'm saying is "We have something in commons, I want to talk about it, and I want you to confirm that you want to hear what I have to say." When it goes well, we have shared stories and both feel like our stories were interesting to our partner, and theirs were interesting to us. It's hard to feel like someone is interested in MY story if they don't respond positively to my bids. I think questions are the primary way to do that, but other cues will do too: regular old body language like nodding, meeting my eye, cocking your head...and of course, waiting for me to finish my story, and then bid with a story of your own.

I said that I hadn't noticed the non-question-asking pattern others here have mentioned, but I *have* noticed what I think is a similar/related pattern which is interrupting my stories, which indicates a lack of interest. (Of course, that lack of interest might be a result of my having exceeded my socially allotted story time...which is why conversational skills are required on both sides: the speaker needs to sense when it is time to stop, the listener needs to give cues about their interest.)

Ironically that's something I know I'm guilty of myself. It stems from being excited by a shared connection I've discovered and wanting to immediately identify it and turn conversation towards it. I have learned I need to actively quell that response and listen respectfully, and *then* say "Wow, me too! There was this time when..."

(Anonymous) on February 23rd, 2015 05:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Okcupid date report
I come from a culture where interrupting is the expected way to move conversation back and forth, and if someone *doesn't* interrupt, that indicates a lack of interest in what you're saying. We moved to New England, whose culture is the opposite, when I was young enough to grow up with some of both, and get used to handling either. I think a lot of people who grew up with one or the other of these have a hard time noticing that their assumption isn't universal when they encounter someone who grew up with the other one.

Something that can work for both styles: You interrupt their stories sometimes, but make a mental note of what they were saying and prompt them a question about that soon after, so they can continue.

You can also say something to the effect of "I want to hear more about that! I've got this related thing I want to tell you before I forget it, but don't forget what you were about to say."
(Anonymous) on February 23rd, 2015 06:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Okcupid date report
(OP) Oh my, this is interesting. I too grew up in a different area and moved to New England during my youth. I wonder if my struggles on this are similarly cultural. Can you share where you came from and how it works there?

I do the "bookmarking" you describe a lot as a workaround.
(Anonymous) on February 24th, 2015 09:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Okcupid date report
(Commenter you're replying to)

In my case, it was Israel.
(Anonymous) on February 23rd, 2015 07:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Okcupid date report
(not any previous commenter)
... and the "before I forget" part is my Achilles heel. Taking notes while still paying attention is also a challenge, so I can't even use tools to mark my place.

I know the interrupting behavior is a common geek communication style. I'm interested in what other (regional? interest-based?) sub-cultures run that way.
(Anonymous) on February 23rd, 2015 11:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Okcupid date report
Yes! I grew up with this cultural expectation too. If you didn't start talking while someone else was still talking they would assume you had nothing to say (and eventually maybe wonder why you never said anything). I finally learned there is actually a term for it called negative pause time. I also finally learned to try very hard to slow down a lot and insert little gaps in what I was saying to leave openings for other people to speak. It's still really hard to remember though, and when I get very excited and enthusiastic about what I am saying I tend to forget.

(The most useful professional training I ever had actually was on pause time. Different cultures have different pause times, and the differences can be really subtle and easily leave one person feeling silenced and the other wishing they would say more. *Knowing* this has made it so much easier to communicate both professionally and in my personal life.)
(Anonymous) on February 23rd, 2015 11:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Okcupid date report
Do you have a pointer to any good info about this?
(Anonymous) on February 24th, 2015 07:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Okcupid date report
I highly recommend Deborah Tannen's books.
(Anonymous) on February 23rd, 2015 06:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Okcupid date report
I also wonder if there's some correlation with the dichotomy between "ask culture" and "guess culture"...