Writing Group Topic: Responding vs. Reacting

I have never come across anyone who “fed back” or “paraphrased” me. If someone were to do that to me, it would irritate me no end! If I say something, I don’t want to hear it repeated back; if something is unclear, it’s always possible to ask a question about what I said, isn’t it? I think I have quite a negative reaction to the idea of people using a “programme” to communicate with me, a deliberate (and what I perceive as manipulative) effort as opposed to a simple, straightforward reaction.

One thing that has happened to me, many times, was people trying to “sandwich” a criticism. They would spend several minutes telling me good, complimentary things, and all the while it is very clear that they are not saying this sincerely – they’re just trying to soften up what the real point is. I can’t stand this! If I deserve compliments, I would want to be told; if I deserve criticism, I would also want to be told. But I can’t stand someone rummaging around their memory for anything praiseworthy to say to me just so they can get a criticism in. I find it dishonest.

I think the lack of spontaneity in communication is what I find dishonest. Of course, paraphrasing or stating, “You seem to be angry,” isn’t dishonest… that’s simply condescending. I do see some of my own stuff here – growing up, feelings of any kind were something to be embarrassed about, and all the more anger, which I associate with childish behaviour like stomping feet. This is not how I want to behave and if someone called me “angry” I would be quite offended. I don’t get angry anyway, not really – if something’s in danger of making me angry, I usually get out.

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