Manners: Decisions

We have all had this conversation at some point in our lives:

  • Person A: I’m hungry. Lets eat.
  • Person B: Oh yeah. Where do you want to go?
  • Person A: I’m so hungry, I don’t care.
  • Person B: Ok. How about [This place]
  • Person A: Oh no, not [This place] I don’t feel like [their food]
  • Person B: Alright, where do you want to go?
  • Person A: I don’t really care.

How many of you knew by the third line where this conversation was going?  How many felt their butt clench with internal rage because we have been Person B too often in our lives?

So skipping over some of the fun conversations about healthy communication, boundaries and emotional labor here… let’s get right to the meat. Person A doesn’t want to have to make a decision but they want a vote in the decision that’s made.

This is terrible manners.

For the folks in the back:

This is TERRIBLE manners.

The why is that it is very disrespectful to PersonB (for sure).  They are trying to show kindness and compassion and they are shot down.  It hurts when this happens.  Sometimes it’s a dumb thing, but when this becomes a habit in a relationship it begins to crop up in more and more important conversations (not just romantic relationships – siblings, friends, and co-workers).

This is why my husband and I play what we call “the veto game.”  In this world, we both come into the situation knowing if we veto an idea (specifically when it comes to “solutions for a problem”) we are responsible for coming up with the alternative.  It completely changes the conversation (and associated emotions):

  • Person A: I’m hungry. Lets eat.
  • Person B: Oh yeah. Where do you want to go?
  • Person A: I’m so hungry, I don’t care.
  • Person B: Ok. How about [This place]
  • Person A: Oh no, not [This place] I don’t feel like [their food]
  • Person B: Alright, your turn. Where should we go then?
  • Person A: Hmmm. What about [Other Place]

Can you see the difference?  When PersonA takes the responsibility that they have shot down an idea it transfers to them – this conversation goes Very, Very (yes, those are capitalized!) differently.  The balance of power is equalized and respect to the first suggestion is not somehow dismissive (and this part I can’t full explain) even if the second choice gets veto’ed and Person B has to come up with a third option – the “value” of each suggestion is increased.

Alright, so we’ve all had this conversation about food.  I’m now going to sneak in two more examples that are far more “serious”

  • Person A: The car has a flat tire.
  • Person B: We should take it to [TirePlace]
  • Person A: The tire is already flat, we’d have to have it towed.
  • Person B: Ok. What do you think we should do?
  • Person A: I was hoping you had an idea.
  • Person B: Well, can we put on the doughnut?
  • Person A: I don’t have a doughnut.
  • Person B: Then I guess you’ll have to get it towed.
  • Person A: We can’t afford that.

Is anyone else feeling their butt clench again?

  • Person A: The car has a flat tire.
  • Person B: We should take it to [TirePlace]
  • Person A: The tire is already flat, we’d have to have it towed.
  • Person B: Ok. What do you think we should do?
  • Person A: I’m really worried how much that costs. Can I use the doughnut from your car?

Person A took a risk.  This might be the wrong size and Person B may not want to risk their own tires. They might not have doughnut (this is apparently a new trend where cars don’t have doughnuts?!?) between the two cars.  BUT – Person A is being an active participant.  They aren’t just passively saying “No. No. No.”  Can you see/feel the difference?  In one of them Person B is having to come up with all the solutions & options and …. they bear all the stress while Person A shoots them down over and over and over.

Manners is defined “as a way of doing, being done, or happening; mode of action, occurrence, etc.”  What way are you doing?  Because DOING is manners.  A mode of action, not passively shooting down others.

When you step into any argument where two people agree on a point (something is “broken”) but can’t agree on a solution; listen. Are both people putting forward options or does one side like to shoot down all the options because although they technically agree that they hate the status quo; the idea of “winning” or “being right” or “:proving the other guy wrong” is actually more important.  And then think about the last example. When the person finally can just ask for what they really want – that risk of rejection.  It takes courage. It takes courage to ask a girl out instead of claiming “friendzoned” and it takes courage to tell people you want to strip-mine their land.  You might get rejected.  But it’s still the right thing to do.

Published by

Librin Latone

Writer, nerd, and perpetual student. I am obsessed with books - both the reading and the making of them. If I won the lottery I would try to have the best private(ish) library in the world. It wouldn't be totally private because the whole purpose of having books is helping other people find a book they will love. I have 2 cats, Genkii (energy) and Kawaii (cutie). I will mention them regularly because they are a daily delight in my life. Granted, sometimes when I'm playing video games they are not so much "delight" as they are "distraction"... but I love them regardless.