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Dutchess_III's avatar

Have you ever experienced anyone explaining something to you, then treat you like you were stupid because they had to explain whatever to you, when you never asked to have whatever explained to you?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42477points) April 24th, 2015

For example, my sister has a bad habit of “explaining” things in such a way as to make it perfectly clear that she thinks you are a moron for needing to have this explained. The fact that I didn’t ask for an explanation, because I didn’t need an explanation, escapes her.

My boss somehow thought I needed to have my job re-explained to me after I got out of the hospital. She’d “explain” how to do things (which I already knew how to do) as though I were a painfully stupid kindergartener. Then she wrote me up for not knowing how to do my job any more, and eventually fired me. It was all in her own imagination.

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7 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

Yes. My social worker taught me how to use a debit card. When I’ve had a debit card for 30 years.

Uasal's avatar

Nah. If it ever starts, I have no problem cutting people off by finishing the explanation before they start. I do it a lot when calling tech support companies when their inferior products die on me. Yes, I turned it off and then back on. Yes I did a soft-reset. Yes, I did a hard reset. Yes I tried to boot from safe mode. Can we please get to the part when you give me an RMA number?

hominid's avatar

I don’t ever recall feeling this way. In fact, I can’t imagine that I’d feel defensive or resentful if it did happen to me.

In the case of your sister, does she come out and say that “you are a moron”? I suspect that there is your sister’s assessment of your intellect and then there is your suspicion of her assessment of your intellect. You’re betting on the fact that they are the same. In my experience, the chance that you are correct is almost zero. And this goes for all of us. We have no idea what people think of us really. Shit, we have no idea what we really think of ourselves.

In a way, it doesn’t really matter. What harm is there in her explaining something to you? Do you feel your sense of self grow and get into defensive mode because the explanation is an attack on who you are? If this is the case, it has little to do with your sister and much to do with whatever you’re trying to protect. If your worth is dependent on everyone knowing that you are brilliant and don’t need an explanation, it would be best to proactively announce to everyone you meet what you know and how well you know it. Most people don’t know precisely what you know and don’t know. And in some sense, neither do you.

What if your sister’s explanation isn’t her best attempt at teaching the ignorant, and really just an attempt to connect with her sister by expressing her understanding of a subject? What if she respects you and wants the experience of bouncing her understanding off of someone who may be able to help expand the understanding or challenge it? What if it’s just a way for her to make sure she understands? Many of us – even here – find that our thoughts just appear when we are attempting to communicate them to someone. And the process of attempted interpersonal communication is also intrapersonal communication. The best way to know what we think is to allow our minds to tell us – through communication.

The thing is, in the case of your boss, this happens all the time. It sounds like you were not meeting her expectations. Her explanations were likely attempts to explain specifically what it was that she expected from you. When the expectations still fall short, the write-up is the next step, and eventually a firing. Whether or not you felt you were doing the job well, she didn’t. That could be the result of a real divide between your perception and the actual performance. Or it could be just someone who hated you and wanted to get rid you you. Either way, that type of clear communication in a workplace environment is a good thing. Imagine if she hadn’t explained in embarrassing detail what she expected from someone doing your job, and then you were fired.

If the difficulty in communication with your sister is merely practical (it takes too long to listen to this stuff), then just tell her the truth – you don’t have the time. One of the most frustrating things I experience in communication is when someone cuts me off to tell me that they already know something – even though it’s clear that they don’t. I’ve had whole relationships built on this, and it’s exhausting. In these relationships, there was also plenty of “I know what you think of me” going on as well. It was like dating a mind-reading mystic who hasn’t figured out that there’s no such thing.

ucme's avatar

Sorry, gonna have to explain that again.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I know my sister, @hominid. She has 3 goals in life: 1) To always be the smartest person in the room, 2) To bet utterly perfect 3) To be rich.

I just let her behavior happen because I know it makes her feel good. Actually, we don’t talk much any more so it really hasn’t happened in years.

As for my boss, what happened was I wound up in the hospital for two weeks with pneumonia. I almost died. Another result was that I lost my memory of the weeks leading up to the hospitalization. I also slipped into some sort of unresponsive state for 2 or 3 days. My boss asked my husband to keep her informed. He did. He way over shared and left her, and many other people, with the impression that I was some how brain damaged or something. I wasn’t. I was 100%. But my boss made the decision to release me before I even got back to work, before she ever even talked to me! All my coworkers treated me like an imbecile for the first several weeks back. The words, “Memory issues” came up over and over. One example, my coworker texted my daughter asking her how I was doing with my memory issues. My daughter said I was fine. My coworker sent back “I don’t know about that. She doesn’t remember you and John getting married last summer!”
My daughter sent back, “That’s because we didn’t get married.”
It was horrible. Everyone eventually came around and things got back to normal. However, I think my boss had the mind set that she had made a decision and by God, she was going to follow through. In order for her decision to be right I had to be stupid. So she’d explain things that I didn’t need explained, and she’d do it very slowly like I was a special needs kindergartner, then heave a big sigh of exasperation at my stupidity which caused her to have to explain these basic things to me.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think I’ve had this happen. If someone starts explaining something I already know and it’s wasting time or annoying me I usually cut them
off, finish their sentence and let them know if I have a question I’ll ask. Probably that is scene as rude. A lot of the time I will let them explain it, it’s not like I feel I have to cut people off every time.

I have more trouble with people not explaining, or telling me to trust them, because they have the education or experience, but I’m there not understanding or feeling I’m not being understood. I just had this happen with a new pair of glasses and I finally said to her, “just pretend I’m 5 years old and it’s my first pair of glasses.” I won’t bore you with the whole story, but it wasn’t that I wanted her to speak slowly, or anything like that. I don’t speak to children any slower than adults. I wanted her to listen to me and answer all my questions.

I think people who like to know “why” tend to give answers and expect ions with reasonings and explanations. Sometimes they do it too much or give the same explanation over and over and it can get annoying. I tend to be one of those people, and if the other person knows why, or doesn’t care why, and let’s me know I’m fine with that. I’ll usually stop my explanation there. Unless, on rare occasion, the person has repeatedly done something incorrectly or shown no regard for doing something a certain way. If it’s important to me I’ll insist on telling them the explanation. It’s not always the best thing, because it can come across as nagging or even condescending I guess? I’m not trying to do that though. Teaching and learning shouldn’t be hierarchical, it can be a simple give and take.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Culture is a powerful brain washing thing. The black guy I dated was born and raised in Selma, Alabama. Yes, he remembers the marches. He was 10 when they happened.
One time, somehow, the discussion turned to Asian-Americans. He stated that they weren’t “real” Americans.
I said, “What is a “real” American?”
He said, (and I swear this is a true story,) “White people.”
I’m like, “OMG Jerry!”
He also swore that black people “can’t” swim. The two kids I actually taught to swim didn’t think they could swim. That 14 year old was hanging on to me like a two year old, he was so scared! But they got over it.

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