Enjoying the Simple Pleasures of Life, While Living in a Complicated World

Trends in Communication: Appearing To Be Gracious…Or Is It?

I have noticed a trend in communication and it’s rather interesting. It’s a communication technique that often erodes and contaminates the connection between people, family, friends and readers. Furthermore, it’s centered on the not-so-subtle words, ” Not trying to hurt feelings, but...” or “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but…”

The sentiments:  “Not trying to hurt feelings but,…I don’t want to hurt your feelings but,…” on the surface appear to be helpful, benevolent and gracious. The true meaning of these phrases is not connected with a kindred spirit of kindness or tact. However, it is a reflection of the contempt that the speaker or writer feels towards the person they are addressing.

I recently saw the words, “Not trying to hurt feelings, but…” in a blog of an acquaintance. This particular posting piqued my interest as I read it, and I wondered, “Why are such ungracious words being posted  in a public forum, rather than sending a private email to the other blogger/writer?

What I found most interesting was this posting contained a message to an author of another blog, and the message was very clear. Apparently, the writer of, “Not trying to hurt feelings, but…” in my opinion,  had very little respect for the other writer and appears threatened by the other blogger.

As I read more of their posting, the message took on a life of its own…along with the display of the most outrageous sense of entitlement and self-absorption I’ve ever encountered. I found all of this extremely amusing!!

My question is: Has the art of graciousness been replaced by jealousy, acrimony, and wanton spite under the guise of being gracious?

I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this topic.

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4 responses

  1. Marie

    Hello there. I have just started reading your blog recently, on the recommendation of a friend. I have to say that there are many things I’ve found very interesting and helpful.
    This posting has me kind of perplexed, though. Isn’t a friend voicing their opinion usually helpful?
    I feel a disclaimer such as you mentioned is only meant as it’s said. I think that if someone really does mean harm, they won’t say anything, they’ll just voice their opinion.
    I just wanted to mention my thoughts on this topic, as you stated you would enjoy hearing them.
    Thanks.

    April 24, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    • Marie, thank you for your thoughts on this!

      Opinions are indeed valuable, especially when they come from a friend, who has your best interests at heart. A friend, a true friend, will give great consideration regarding their approach when giving counsel, an admonishment, gentle reminder or kind reproof in order to avoid painful misunderstandings. Furthermore, their personal connection and friendship is evident by their approach, which will usually be in person, by a telephone call or personal visit. A friend would never resort to a curt text message, email or personal criticism posted in a public blog or website.

      However, there is nothing friendly or benevolent regarding an individual’s motivation when they voice unsolicited, personal criticisms in a public forum, such as a blog or website. In fact, they are behaving disrespectfully in public. The phrase,“I don’t want to hurt feelings, but..” followed by the sarcastic admonishment to “…PLEASE only post pictures that present the food in a flattering fashion…Usually anything brown and clumpy is a bad idea.”, is a caustic, self-serving remark that shows the true feelings of the writer. Clearly, the nature of these comments are not gracious, friendly or helpful.

      April 24, 2010 at 10:40 pm

  2. Marie

    I believe in today’s society, the rules of communication have changed. We might not all agree with these changes, however, things are the way they are.

    Today, people don’t always have time to call or visit, and I truly believe that email, online forum, blogs, any variety of websites are acceptable forms for communication of all types.

    I also believe in freedom of expression without any
    exceptions. Part of what makes our country the wonderful place that it is, is that everyone has the right to express their written thoughts in any way they deem fit, in any forum they choose.

    I also have always believed the way we “take” the things people say to and about us is more important than the way things are said.

    We might not always like the way that people express themselves, but I’d rather have someone who cares express themselves in a way I don’t approve of then have them not say anything at all and go on believing that I’m without fault.

    Constructive criticism, especially with a humourous flair is a wonderful way to find things out about ourselves and our work, and leaves the world open to discussion, rather than shutting it away, case closed, without another look in that direction.

    I can see that you have chosen to make the assumption that this friend’s comments were directed toward you.

    I have not read anything on your blog thus far that suggests that you have tried that “friendly” contact that you are referring to. I assume this because you have not posted any sort of resolution to this situation.

    I feel badly that you have taken such comments on such a personal level when I’m finding from my reading that it was a comment on a recipe picture and doesn’t seem to imply any personal attack.

    Your response seems to me to be more of a personal attack rather than a true response to said criticism.

    I am very interested in your thoughts on this.

    April 26, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    • Hi Marie,
      Let me first say, I appreciate your willingness to continue to discuss this topic. You appear to have very strong feelings regarding the blog in question and it’s author, as well as, deeply held personal beliefs.

      However, I still haven’t received an answer to my original question in my post: Has the art of graciousness been replaced by jealousy, acrimony, and wanton spite under the guise of being gracious?

      It’s interesting you should mention the Constitution, because I am currently studying Constitutional Law this semester in college, and is a required subject for my degree program. I agree, most heartily with you that the Constitution provides a wide latitude of protection for individuals who wish to exercise their right to express themselves in speech or in print.

      The author of the blog I mentioned, indeed has the protected right to express themselves as they wish. However, while the author has the right to express themselves in any manner they choose; moreover, I have the right to not agree with their behavior, message, words or manner they express themselves.

      Marie, I would like to clarify a point, which I may have not stated clearly in my blog or in my reply to your comment. The author of the blog I mentioned, is merely an acquaintance and not a friend, not someone who cares or has an interest in my life. This doesn’t involve personal attacks or two friend’s having ‘verbal fisticuffs’ via the internet, or blog v. blog.

      Again, my post and response was addressing my opinion of the authors behavior and post. I don’t have a personal issue with them, and have welcomed them to contact me.

      One thing I’m curious about….is the following phrase in your last comment, “Constructive criticism, especially with a humourous flair…

      It’s interesting you mention “humourous flair”. I’ve never indicated anywhere in my blog the author’s comments were humorous in any way, shape, or form. I have also not included all of the information posted by the author, namely,a smiley face at the end of their comments (in my opinion, indicates wry sarcasm-not humor).

      Marie, I strongly suspect-in my opinion, you’ve read the blog in question, and know the author. Your comment, “humourous flair” clearly indicates your knowledge of the smiley face symbol.

      You didn’t need to veil your comments regarding my post and comments, you could have simply spoken out.

      So, here’s your opportunity… no more veiled comments. What do you really want to say?

      I invite you to send me an email (which I will withhold from this blog, and consider it private), or post a comment. It’s up to you…or, we can agree to disagree.

      April 26, 2010 at 11:32 pm

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