Someone recently called the communication style in the PNW as passive aggressive in nature. His statement and those wrapped around this idea were met with a lot of “hell yes!” statements from various people.
While I don’t disagree with the generalization, I disagree with painting every scenario as a black and white one. Look, I grew up in the Midwest. I speak “plainly”. I recall meeting someone who went to school in the same area I went to school in Iowa. Hell, he was dating someone who grew up near my hometown. To meet someone knowing exactly where I grew up in this city was weird – a chance meeting that made us instantly friends.
“I SO miss Iowa girls – they just speak their fucking mind!” He exclaimed this after we had talked about this and that – and he just laughed at how I was putting things. Made me laugh because I am who I am. I speak what I think. I can soft peddle things, but it isn’t my default setting.
So reading about the “who cares” sorts of attitudes or the passive aggressive kinds – definitely made me smile. I have heard similar things. But with a different bend.
You see, this issues isn’t black and white. I learned when I was pregnant that EVERYONE like telling me what I needed to do. Home birth? Check. Breastfeed? Check. Kinds of Diapers? Check. Co-sleeping? Check. They were blunt. They were direct. And they were more than happy to tell me I was doing it wrong. To my face. In public. People I knew – people I didn’t know. It didn’t matter. No one was shy & no one minced words.
What struck me most about this whole situation? Rarely would someone where I grew up do this to a mother. Rarely would they feel it is their place to come up to a stranger and start interrogating them or telling them how to live. That was none of your business unless you were asked. Until then, shut your mouth. Not your business.
Sure, we could debate politics. We could talk about the stupid policy decision by the school board. We could get into public drag out debates with people about controversial topics. But when it came to someone’s house of worship. Not your problem. Decisions about whether to divorce or to get counseling? Not your problem. Yes, there was a rumor mill. Always was. But rarely was someone going to publicly debate you on your decision. They would listen, bring by a bundt cake or jello mold, then leave to express their true opinion to someone else. Anything else was rude.
I don’t take a lot of things personally. I was raised to state facts, use them to backup your opinions, stay away from personal attacks, be passionate, but to remember it’s not the person you are disagreeing with – it’s their idea. Debates could end as quickly as they started even if they seemed to be knock out drag out fights. This has been an interesting things for me in my work life because I can do this. It is what it is. I don’t care. Make a decision – but until you do, I’ll let you know what I think you should do. Reject it? I don’t care. No skin off of my nose.
But you start telling me those things who make up me are wrong? Yeah, then we are going to have an issue. Because, did I ask your opinion? Nope. Would I tell you that you are doing it wrong? Not unless asked. What gives you the right to do that to me?
Personal decisions like poly, like what you define as feminism, like what you define as D/s or Daddy/girl dynamics, those are your own. They don’t involve me. They do not define me. If you do it differently than me, ok. I don’t care. Why? Because none of that defines me – it defines you. You have to live with the consequences of those choices. They are personal – they are individual – they are circumstantial – they are about the people in that situation – not about me or you or anyone else trying to “be helpful”.
And this – THIS – is the problem I have with debates on certain topics. They start getting personal. They start engaging the “twue way” people. Someone writing something that is deeply personal and reflective to them, can get hijacked by people who were not asked their opinion but feel they have the right to give it. You know – “free speech and all” (Which usually means they need to go look up what free speech is really about).
Here is another thing – an important thing to remember. And I’m stealing this….
“If you care about being right, you care more about what is being said. If you care about communicating, you care more about what is being heard.”
Communicate – don’t just speak.
And don’t do either if it involves people’s personal lives because, that is just rude.
And if I say “I don’t care” or “whatever” when something comes up, it’s because I don’t. If I did, you’d know. If I don’t care, it’s not because I’m being passive aggressive or anything. Because I mean what I say.
So, let me communicate clearly – you will know what my thoughts are when it is appropriate. If it is inappropriate, be sure to ask so I can tell you. If you don’t ask, you won’t know.