How to deal with insensitivity.....?


#1

There is a person in my life that I need to maintain a relationship with...and unfortunately, I find her comments and advice to border on the insensitive...

I'll give some examples...

After my godmother passed away of breast cancer she said, "She should have had a mastectomy, why did she have a lumpectomy?" Yet at the same time, "That was her destiny." :confused:

After the funeral, "Your uncle didn't say hello to me at the funeral"

After I had a miscarriage (my second) "Why did you try again so soon? Weren't you supposed to wait?"

When my son was born prematurely, "Well, she wanted the baby." (meaning me)

When learning about my heart condition (minor) " You took a huge risk getting pregnant again. I know someone who died giving birth."

There is no way to avoid her. Other than playing a little song in my mind when she talks, anything else I could do? Oh, if I say anything to her, she most likely burst into tears because I'm critical.

And I'm I being sensitive? Are these things inoffensive?


#2

Oh honey. I feel your pain. And my prayers are with you for the grace needed to deal with your "friend".

I have a friend who has made similar remarks, in particular about me having kids (your examples struck a cord with me). She's constantly made remarks about how I shouldn't have any more children and that it's her duty to make realize I'm "more than just a uterus" (I hate that line). When we told her we were pregnant with our 4th child, she actually went too far; in front of our other children she made a distasteful comment about taking a butterknife to my husband (presumably for a vasectomy). Fortunately, I have been able to limit my contact with her over the past year.

:confused:I wish I knew what to tell you. Perhaps if you took her to lunch one day, just the two of you, and explain that you are feeling a lack of support from her because of the comments she's made and that you could really use some positive/optimistic support. Maybe she doesn't realize how the things she's saying really come across.

I always wanted to do that with my "friend" but I knew it wouldn't be something I could do while i was pregnant. And in the last 6 months since my youngest was born, I've only spoken with her 3 or 4 times. I think our friendship is coming to an end.

I wish you luck and God Bless You!


#3

What I would do is start calling her out when she says innapropriate things. She probably does not realize how insensitive her comments are, and she will continue to make them as long as you continue to remain silent. Just say firmly that you don't think what she said is appropriate, that you took offense to it, or whatever. If you don't say anything when she says such things, she will continue to say them and your friendship will probably fade away like the other posters'. Don't be afraid to speak up when someone is truly upsetting you.


#4

pray for her and everyone YOU have offended and who offends you
i know i'm guilty of saying things about friends of mine i'd rather they didn't know
we are all flawed
God bless


#5

I think you should pray for her. Then pray to Our Lord that you see her as He sees her. And pray for wisdom and God's direction.

But first and foremost--PRAY.

Scout :tiphat:


#6

[quote="Mary_Gail_36, post:1, topic:208821"]
There is a person in my life that I need to maintain a relationship with...and unfortunately, I find her comments and advice to border on the insensitive...

I'll give some examples...

After my godmother passed away of breast cancer she said, "She should have had a mastectomy, why did she have a lumpectomy?" Yet at the same time, "That was her destiny." :confused:

After the funeral, "Your uncle didn't say hello to me at the funeral"

After I had a miscarriage (my second) "Why did you try again so soon? Weren't you supposed to wait?"

When my son was born prematurely, "Well, she wanted the baby." (meaning me)

When learning about my heart condition (minor) " You took a huge risk getting pregnant again. I know someone who died giving birth."

There is no way to avoid her. Other than playing a little song in my mind when she talks, anything else I could do? Oh, if I say anything to her, she most likely burst into tears because I'm critical.

And I'm I being sensitive? Are these things inoffensive?

[/quote]

I would respond with "You're comment is not helpful." Yes this person is being insensitive. If this person continues in the same insensitive manner after you have stated a particular comment is not helpful I would excuse myself if possible. If you're in a situation where you can not excuse yourself I would start praying Hail Mary's in my head (or Our Father's or whatever prayer you prefer) and not respond further.


#7

Sometimes being nice back to her makes matters worse. If you're in the mood, try fighting fire with fire ... and a sly grin:

"She should have had a mastectomy, why did she have a lumpectomy?"

I think I have the oncologist's card here ... why don't you give him a call?

"Your uncle didn't say hello to me at the funeral"

I wonder why

"Why did you try again so soon? Weren't you supposed to wait?"

I think I have my OBGYN's card here ... why don't you give her a call?

"I know someone who died giving birth."

I know someone who should have.


#8

I’m curious, what is the specific situation in which you have to see her often? Work? If it is work, we’ll use that example, one thing you can do if you don’t mind doing it is trying to transfer to another department. Tell your boss, if he/she is the sympathetic kind, that you cannot take her dismissive attitude any longer. If you can’t transfer, try moving to a more distant workspace. It has always been the most successful route for me to just go to any lengths possible to avoid people who work my nerves like that. You say you cannot avoid her - I’ll bet if you got creative you could come up with a way to do so. And to me it would be easier to just do that than to “sit down and have a talk with her,” etc. and so forth. Or - you know what - not to discount the other posters - try to talk to her first once or twice. If you get nowhere THEN go for the avoidance thing. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Tracy


#9

After you pray for her===take her to lunch---and plop a voice activated tape recorder on the table and when she asks, "What's that for?" tell her it is for her so she can play and replay her insensitive words over and over again until she gets how very hurtful her words are. ;)


#10

While some of her remarks may be insensitive, it may be that she really wants to know.

[quote="Mary_Gail_36, post:1, topic:208821"]
There is a person in my life that I need to maintain a relationship with...and unfortunately, I find her comments and advice to border on the insensitive...

I'll give some examples...

After my godmother passed away of breast cancer she said, "She should have had a mastectomy, why did she have a lumpectomy?" Yet at the same time, "That was her destiny." :confused: Mastectomy used to be the surgical procedure that was done for almost all breast cancers. Lumpectomy is more common now, but it is not necessarily the best choice. Her question is not insensitive.

After the funeral, "Your uncle didn't say hello to me at the funeral" Could it be that your uncle did not recognize her? Perhaps he did and did not want to talk to her, but she doesn't know that. The remark was not insensitive, although if he didn't want to talk to her, it was difficult for you to reply to.

After I had a miscarriage (my second) "Why did you try again so soon? Weren't you supposed to wait?" This is a valid question. Until very recently, women were advised to wait at least 6 months before becoming pregnant after a miscarriage. It was only this week that there was a news item in the newspapers that it is better not to wait. So, how is this question insensitive?

When my son was born prematurely, "Well, she wanted the baby." (meaning me) This remark was not just insensitive, it was downright mean.

When learning about my heart condition (minor) " You took a huge risk getting pregnant again. I know someone who died giving birth." *This was insensitive. *

There is no way to avoid her. Other than playing a little song in my mind when she talks, anything else I could do? Oh, if I say anything to her, she most likely burst into tears because I'm critical. It seems that she reacts to perceived criticism as you do to perceived insensitivity. Perhaps you both need to be sensitive to each others emotions.

And I'm I being sensitive? Are these things inoffensive?

[/quote]


#11

[quote="Apollos, post:7, topic:208821"]
Sometimes being nice back to her makes matters worse. If you're in the mood, try fighting fire with fire ... and a sly grin:
I think I have the oncologist's card here ... why don't you give him a call?I wonder why
I think I have my OBGYN's card here ... why don't you give her a call?I know someone who should have.

[/quote]

I think this advice is the best.
Firstly, it shows that you are standing your ground AND you are indirectly telling her that her comments are insensitive.
Secondly, why should you avoid her (at work) when she is the one with the problem? After dishing out a few of the above posters' lines over time, I'll bet she will be the one avoiding you.
Btw, I've learned that the above poster's advice helps when dealing with equally insensitive non-believers on the forums here!
Hope this helps.
Keep the Faith.
Colmcille1.:)


#12

[quote="colmcille1, post:11, topic:208821"]
I think this advice is the best.
Firstly, it shows that you are standing your ground AND you are indirectly telling her that her comments are insensitive.
Secondly, why should you avoid her (at work) when she is the one with the problem? After dishing out a few of the above posters' lines over time, I'll bet she will be the one avoiding you.
Btw, I've learned that the above poster's advice helps when dealing with equally insensitive non-believers on the forums here!
Hope this helps.
Keep the Faith.
Colmcille1.:)

[/quote]

The only reason that I recommended avoiding the person is because it works for me personally. I'm not one to beat around the bush or play games. I mean yeah, I'll be polite enough, but somebody like this - forget it. Write them off and move on. Life is too short. But everybody has to do what works for them personally. Some people like to play games. Some people are so friendly that they can't stand to avoid anyone. Those people are better people than I am. Truthfully, I'm a bit of a tomboy, so all these girl politics are a little foreign to me. :p

Tracy


#13

[quote="Mary_Gail_36, post:1, topic:208821"]
There is a person in my life that I need to maintain a relationship with...and unfortunately, I find her comments and advice to border on the insensitive...

I'll give some examples...

After my godmother passed away of breast cancer she said, "She should have had a mastectomy, why did she have a lumpectomy?" Yet at the same time, "That was her destiny." :confused:

After the funeral, "Your uncle didn't say hello to me at the funeral"

After I had a miscarriage (my second) "Why did you try again so soon? Weren't you supposed to wait?"

When my son was born prematurely, "Well, she wanted the baby." (meaning me)

When learning about my heart condition (minor) " You took a huge risk getting pregnant again. I know someone who died giving birth."

There is no way to avoid her. Other than playing a little song in my mind when she talks, anything else I could do? Oh, if I say anything to her, she most likely burst into tears because I'm critical.

And I'm I being sensitive? Are these things inoffensive?

[/quote]

Mary Gail, we might know the same person! You're normal; she's not.

Anyone who says any thing to her regarding her rude comments becomes the bad guy in her mind. Many have tried, but no one has succeeded in getting her to think before she opens her mouth. I could offer my advice, but thus far I haven't had any luck in changing her either. I now settle for avoiding the person as much as possible and avoiding being alone with her.

I notice that most of the comments you posted involve illness and death. You're probably dealing with someone who doesn't know how to deal with illness and death. The person I know seems at her absolute worst when she makes comments about health issues. She's a bit of a control freak in other matters, but death and illness are often beyond our control. That doesn't stop a control freak from trying. Several of her comments seem to imply the person could-have/should-have controlled their health care better to have avoided the situation.

Besides control issues and not knowing how to deal with important life matters, I suspect that people who make rude comments like that may also have some type of personality disorder and/or impulse control problem. I honestly don't know if they are in full command of all their mental faculties. Perhaps the best we can do is pray with Jesus, "Father forgive her. She doesn't know what she's saying."


#14

[quote="Joan_M, post:10, topic:208821"]
While some of her remarks may be insensitive, it may be that she really wants to know.

[/quote]

Hi Joan...my quotes didn't include the tone, hard to do on the internet.

My Godmother had* just* died. And the way she said it (in person) came across as, "Well of course she died, she didn't have a mastectomy" What about just saying, "I'm sorry for your loss, she was a nice lady, I know you'll miss her."
I can't go back in time to convince my Godmother for other sugery.:(

As per my uncle, the tone was she felt slighted by him, at the funeral for his own sister. She should have approached him and told him she was sorry for his loss. But she expected him to say hello to her. Maybe he had other things on his mind and did not recognize her:shrug:

As for the miscarriage, she called me on the phone, the day I was discharged from the hospital for observations to determine that I was miscarrying. I was lying in bed, in pain and sad..and she says, "Why did you try. Weren"t you supposed to wait?" (obviously I didn't put that in my first post...I should have mentioned it wasn't days after, but immediately after) What would have been kind was, "i'm sorry this must be sad for you."

In fact a SIL miscarried after a vacation...she told her, "Well the trip must have done it."

I am somewhat sensitive, but not hypersensitive. :)


#15

[quote="gardenswithkids, post:13, topic:208821"]
Mary Gail, we might know the same person! You're normal; she's not.

Anyone who says any thing to her regarding her rude comments becomes the bad guy in her mind. Many have tried, but no one has succeeded in getting her to think before she opens her mouth. I could offer my advice, but thus far I haven't had any luck in changing her either. I now settle for avoiding the person as much as possible and avoiding being alone with her.

I notice that most of the comments you posted involve illness and death. You're probably dealing with someone who doesn't know how to deal with illness and death. The person I know seems at her absolute worst when she makes comments about health issues. She's a bit of a control freak in other matters, but death and illness are often beyond our control. That doesn't stop a control freak from trying. Several of her comments seem to imply the person could-have/should-have controlled their health care better to have avoided the situation.

Besides control issues and not knowing how to deal with important life matters, I suspect that people who make rude comments like that may also have some type of personality disorder and/or impulse control problem. I honestly don't know if they are in full command of all their mental faculties. Perhaps the best we can do is pray with Jesus, "Father forgive her. She doesn't know what she's saying."

[/quote]

Wow! How insightful! Yes she is a control freak in other areas of her life as well....and no one can completely control death and illness, so I guess she tries to rationalize things. That makes so much more sense.

Thank you. Yes I'll pray for her. I'm still grieving for my Godmother she passed away at the end of July, I was fortunate to be with her...I guess what I needed was more emotional support, (as when I miscarried, and had the preemie) and I get disappointed that the support isn't there.

Thank you again.


#16

[quote="gardenswithkids, post:13, topic:208821"]
The person I know seems at her absolute worst when she makes comments about health issues. She's a bit of a control freak in other matters, but death and illness are often beyond our control. That doesn't stop a control freak from trying."

[/quote]

I have no idea about this particular person, but I've met a person or two like her in my life and I'd have to say they were control freaks too. Control freaks have a tendency to be, er, ...direct... in their speech. I'm sure it's all part of their compulsive need to "fix" things that are out of control.

And while such comments do hurt when they are heard, I find that there is no real benefit to be obtained from even imagining that you can change such a person. If an insensitive person makes an insensitive comment then that comment carries no more weight than does a five year old's opinion on how photosynthesis works. We adults are almost certainly amused by the five year old while the peers of the five year old might take the comments seriously. The difference is that we don't find insensitive people amusing. ...at least not when we and/or our loved ones are the object of their insensitive remarks.

People like this insensitive person are stuck at some immature level ---like the five year old "botany expert". Most of us don't feel the need to correct a five year old about such things. Five-year-olds lack the knowledge framework to make a correction worth it. Insensitive people probably ought to know better but they lack the emotional or psychological "maturity framework" to be able to accept correction.

Avoiding being alone with such people is probably the best tactic. Assuming they are clue-less and letting their words roll off is the backup plan.


#17

This person may have Aspergers Syndrome or some other autistic spectrum disorder. If so, she doesn't know better because the brain hardware that enables people to empathize failed to develop properly before birth. Pray for her.


#18

[quote="Mary_Gail_36, post:1, topic:208821"]
There is a person in my life that I need to maintain a relationship with...and unfortunately, I find her comments and advice to border on the insensitive...

There is no way to avoid her. Other than playing a little song in my mind when she talks, anything else I could do? Oh, if I say anything to her, she most likely burst into tears because I'm critical.

[/quote]

I think you're best off sticking to the Miss Manners methods:
When someone says something offensive, you look at them with incredulity and say, "Pardon me?" In other words, the look on your face shows clearly that this is an ettiquette issue, not an audiology issue, but that you're graciously giving the violator room for retreat.

This should be a tip-off to a normal person to realize they have crossed a line. They either apologize--"Oh, I can't believe I said that. That was out-of-bounds. Please forgive me"--or elect to say, "Nothing, nothing", or else go ahead and say what they have to say in the full knowledge that it is offensive to hear.

If she gets the message, you let the matter drop and graciously go on with the conversation. If she doesn't get the message, and the comment is repeated, you might reply in the following ways:

After my godmother passed away of breast cancer she said, "She should have had a mastectomy, why did she have a lumpectomy?"
You can say, "I wouldn't know. Her health decisions were between her and her doctor." Repeat as necessary until the subject is dropped.

Yet at the same time, "That was her destiny." :confused:
Silence is the best answer to comments like this. If she says, "What?!? I just said it was her destiny," you can reply with "yes, I guess you did." It is a comment that doesn't deserve an answer. Don't give it one. Let it just lie there, naked, without any support or recognition.

After the funeral, "Your uncle didn't say hello to me at the funeral"
Although you want to say, "If he overheard you repeat the comments about his dear wife that you made to me, I'm surprised that all he did was ignore you", you might say, "I wouldn't know about that. I'm sure his grief is very deep right now." Repeat as necessary until the subject is dropped.

After I had a miscarriage (my second) "Why did you try again so soon? Weren't you supposed to wait?"
"Sally? Did you really just ask me that? That really isn't any of your business." Repeat as necessary until the subject is dropped.

When my son was born prematurely, "Well, *she wanted the baby." (meaning me)*
"Sally? Did you really just say that? That really isn't any of your business, and I can do without hearing that kind of comment." Repeat as necessary until the subject is dropped.

When learning about my heart condition (minor) " You took a huge risk getting pregnant again. I know someone who died giving birth."
"Sally? Did you really just ask say that? That really isn't any of your business." Repeat as necessary until the subject is dropped.

There is no guarantee, of course, that she will ever wake up to the fact that her comments are inappropriate. With repeated exposure, however, she may figure out that she will not get anywhere with you by making these personal comments....no validation of her opinion, no defensiveness, no drama. She will just get a direct and unceremonious escort back to the land of appropriate, in terms that let her know she has dropped in value as an intimate.

Do not fall for the "burst into tears because I'm critical" ploy. If she violates ettiquette, and you respond as ettiquette predicts you will, there is no reason for that kind of drama on her part. If she apologizes, accept the apology and graciously move on, but insist that the topic remain closed. If she decides to cry, you can simply say, "Sally, you don't need to be upset. It's just this: that is my business, not yours. We're not going to talk about it. Let's just drop it and move on." She doesn't have anywhere to cry from, unless you give her one.

You cannot win by getting sucked into an invitation to criticize her behavior in a general way. If she is not under your jurisdiction (employee, envoy, someone who takes it upon themselves to be your public representative, etc.) don't ever presume to correct the manners of another adult. Stick to objection to each violation as it occurs, and insist that the topic remain on that violation....which is simply that you did not appreciate her comment, the topic is not open for discussion, and that's that.

If she wants to call you "sensitive", do not get into defending yourself or outlining what part of your personal life is open to her comments. Just repeat: "Pardon me? Sally, it's my life, and I don't want your opinion on it. If I want your opinion in the future, I'll ask for it. Accept that, and let's move on." Repeat, repeat, repeat. Do not let her lure you into any other side issues or make it into a big interpersonal drama. Do not fall for manipulative ultimatuums. That game takes two to play. Don't bite. Even if she says, "Well, I guess you don't want to be friends, then" you can still say, "Sally, I don't want your opinion on this topic. That's all. Now, let's talk about something else, and not blow this out of proportion."

Do not accept any invitation to tell her about times when she was rude in the past. Rather, insist that "What is in the past, is in the past. If I didn't say anything at the time, that was my choice at the time." Resist any temptation to "parent" her on ettiquette issues, even if she asks. If she presses for advice, suggest to her there are books, but other than that, if there is a problem, you'll let her know.

(If, by the way, she goes and reads all of the books and starts giving you ettiquette advice, you always have the fall-back that no ettiquette expert in the world would dream of giving unsolicited advice. Remind her of that, and move on.)


#19

[quote="Joan_M, post:10, topic:208821"]
While some of her remarks may be insensitive, it may be that she really wants to know.

[/quote]

Yes they are insensitive. What does it matter what type of surgical procedure someone has for breast cancer -after they have died, especially immediately after someone's death. It looks like she's looking to lay blame on the person that passed for her own death because she chose the wrong surgery.
And when you attend someone's funeral it's not about you -people are grieving -how ridiculous to point out someone did not say hi to you.
With the miscarriage comment-again looking to lay blame -is this not your fault? You should have waited. How is that helpful when someone is grieving the loss of a child?


#20

WOW!

I actually assume you are related to this person somehow. By marriage perhaps? No need to divulge. It seems the only type of relationship that you really can't get out of.

I have had this problem with some people I know. I'm rarely at a loss for words. But sometimes, my jaw just hits the floor and nothing can come out. I have gotten better with saying things like. "Hmm, that's an odd thing to say/ask."

And if they ask why? Then I might explain it. Or I might just follow with. It's just not the first thing that popped in my mind upon losing my Godmother, watching my uncle mourn his wife...

Some people are socially challenged... And in the way that I'm more forgiving of a mentally challenged individual and their behavior and such, I TRY, TRY, TRY to do so with those that constantly have their foot in their mouths. (But yes, it's sooooooo dang hard not to spin out and give them a rashing for it!).

In fact, I've heard a comment that I've never used... but might work here... "it must be hard to eat with your foot in your mouth all the time." LOL (I might start laughing now when people are rude, and I have my own private moment in my head.)


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.