Painfully circuitous speech

 Posted by at 10:45 on 21 December 2015
Dec 212015
 

I’ve realized something recently about the culture I’m in. It may or may not be the same as the culture I come from – this is one of the pitfalls of transitioning at one of the natural life transitions: you don’t always know what’s due to the place, and what’s due to the stage of your life, and what’s simply due to personality.

I’ve observed this method of communication hereabouts that relies heavily on getting others to talk about you, rather than stating your own case, in many situations. One that jumps to mind is if someone’s good at something. Let’s say Jo is good at writing. If Jo says she’s good at writing, it will rub most people the wrong way, at least around here. They’ll think she’s boasting, full of herself, needs to be taken down a peg, etc. But if Bob says Jo is good at writing, it’s fine. It’s even better if Jo’s not there.

Another example is with health issues. Jean may have a serious health issue, let’s say. She’ll tell her closest friends the nitty gritty of it, but she’ll gloss over all that with her acquaintances – “It’s no big deal” or “Mustn’t grumble”, etc. Her closest friends will be relied upon to fill in the gaps for the others, to tell them how horrible what she’s going through is, so that she can be admired for going through it so bravely and never complaining.

And so on. This is a pattern I see a great deal of, with different subjects, with different people.

Given that, I’ve just realized that a speaker needs to put flashing red lights around anything they want to not be spread around. “Don’t tell anyone this, you understand?”, etc. That is so weird to me. I’m so used to simply keeping confidences without thinking about it – and treating nearly everything told to me as a confidence – and expecting nearly everything I tell others to be kept confidential. I’m so used to just talking plainly, about my own things and asking about others’ things. This roundabout, painfully circuitous talk is hard. Not least because it all seems so utterly pointless.

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