This is really a unique experience for me, because, typically, I don’t write these kinds of posts. I’m kinda big on privacy, and sometimes, seeing a conversation you had with someone pop up on their popular blog is a tad disconcerting. But since the guilty party in question told me to blog about it….I believe I will.
Ok, so, the other day, Aunt B and i were fussing like we do on the phone, when out of her mouth came something so completely foreign to me, that I have been unable to get settled down with it since. I don’t exactly remember how we got there, (except that I know she wasn’t sayin it about me) but she essentially said that condescension and hostility are the same. Wait, to be Fox News fair, she may have said condescension was a form of hostility.
Poppycock. Balderdash. Horseshit. I was having none of it. So, i think we made a bet, or, rather, i believe I said “I’ll bet you that if we asked 100 people if condescension was a form of hostility….
And I’m sorry, i don’t remember if i gave a number that would agree, or set some other standard, but i was basically claiming to be “right.” Now, Aunt B will go to her grave insisting that I always have to be right. I have to win. Perhaps, but since the disagreement cannot be settled definitively, I will use quotation marks and state upfront that I’m only using this exchange between us to make a larger, if completely disjointed point.
Ok, so, B is fond of saying something to me that, on its surface, sounds perfectly reasonable, but when i think it through, i think its one of those verbal crutches we rely on to hammer home our point. She says,”words either mean something or they don’t.”
Lets, then, for a moment, examine the words in question, right after i make this disclosure:
My manner of communicating often sounds condescending, whether I mean to sound that way or not. Having not yet shed the last of my patriarchal pre-dispositions, and, standing at the threshold of curmudgeon-ness, at 51, AND, AND, when I consider that speaking authoritatively has served me well at times, I doubt that I will ever stop doing it.
That said, if i am unaware that the person on the receiving end is perceiving hostility, how can I be reasonably accused of being hostile? Let me share a quick example. (Again, i should state that this was not the catalyst for this post) Aunt B has a very nice intern in her office, who I have met, and a few weeks ago Aunt B asked me if I would speak to her about buying her first car. I am always glad to share an insiders perspective, so i agreed. I am pretty sure this is what followed:
(in my head), ok, I know nothing about this person. i don’t her finances, i don’t know her tastes. I do know the working parts of a car deal, so i’ll start asking what are known as qualifying questions. I’m a little busy, and i know she (the intern) has work to do, so i am forced to speed through this important step and hope I can make accurate assumptions about what i miss. Many of my questions probably started with “have you thought about this?” and “have you looked into that?”
(in the Intern’s head) Sweet Jesus! Does this guy think I’m a moron? Of course I have considered my budget, and my driving habits, and my insurance costs, and cost of ownership, and resale value. And why, yes, I’m perfectly comfortable walking onto a car lot and negotiating on my own. I can’t believe he thinks because I’m a young woman, i’m automatically an idiot.
Pure speculation on my part, I’ll admit. It may not be close to what she was thinking. BUT. I can say with all due confidence that she was not thinking…hmmmm, why is this guy being so hostile? Why am i being attacked?
While I’m at it, the synonyms for hostile are here.
So, I say this about that. Words do indeed mean something or they don’t, but condescension does not mean hostility, or that hostility even exists in the mind of the person being condescending. I don’t believe it is rooted in hostility.
So, I think i win. Now I need around 99 people or so to back me up here.
Hows that for navel gazing, Garrigan?
Oh Shit! Completely O/T, but has anyone else seen that Chase bank commercial where the guy gets permission from his wife to buy a new TV? I loved it. I’d like to see more of that kind of advertising. (I’ll see if i can find it, hope that someone can walk me through embedding or embiggening or what not.)