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When I tell someone that (say) I scalded my hand cooking last night,… - Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.
January 18th, 2011
09:12 am
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When I tell someone that (say) I scalded my hand cooking last night, my ideal response is "Thanks for telling me that, I'll try to take it into account". The far more common / "nicer" "Dude, sorry to hear that" is so unpleasant to me that I'll refrain from telling people I'd otherwise want to know so I don't have to hear it.

(There are times when I want sympathy, but even then, actually getting it almost never makes me feel any better. And I have basically no reaction to praise either (except sometimes a bit of discomfort). I wonder if there's an explanation for this beyond "people are different from one another sometimes".)

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From:papertygre
Date:January 23rd, 2011 03:39 am (UTC)
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This is one of those cases where what I do to others is the opposite of what I want for myself. I don't really like getting sympathy either, but I tolerate it because I realize that if I were in their shoes, I wouldn't know what else to say either. Not sure if it's social conventions, or what. I guess I could always strike out and try to singlehandedly break the trend, but that sounds hard. Instead, I just accept that the annoyance of receiving sympathy is the price I pay for the satisfaction of being able to complain to someone.
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From:kenoubi
Date:January 23rd, 2011 03:56 am (UTC)
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Oh, absolutely. I think people would be very uncomfortable if I weren't sympathetic when they complained, so I am. I was pointing this out because I know I'm odd. To me, this is yet another demonstration that "treat everyone the way the average/typical person would want to be treated" is a very poor approximation to "treat each person the way that person would like to be treated".

I'm on the fence about whether this means I should actively express that sympathy is making me more uncomfortable, though, since that would probably make the person offering it (who was trying to be nice) more uncomfortable in turn... although I often get the impression that more introverted people are expressing sympathy to be polite and because they don't know what else to do (the same reasons I would), in which case I wish we could both drop the pretense and just behave sincerely.

Most of the value I get out of complaining, most of the time, is either that I'll figure out how to deal with the problem while talking through it, or I'll rally the other person to the team who thinks this is a problem (and thus maybe improve the situation in the long term), or (bizarrely enough) sometimes the person to whom I'm complaining will actually have an idea I haven't thought of to make the situation much better. (I'm always a little stunned when this last happens, even though by rights it ought to be the primary desired result of complaining.)
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