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  1. #1
    Patron Saint Of Smileys Gloriana's Avatar
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    Default People Who Don't Realize You're Empathizing

    Picture this:

    You're at a party, and a someone starts a conversation with you. They start talking to you about this French film festival they recently went to because, as they state, they're a hardcore fan of French cinema.

    You are not a hardcore fan of French cinema, but you can recall a couple of particularly good ones you saw, and so you mention these films, the actress you remember, and the plot points you found most interesting.

    This person is visibly excited that you know these films, as those are among this person's favorites. You remember some more details about those films, and so you discuss those details. The cinematography, the mood of the story, the twists in the plot. You're not emotionally invested in these details in any way, in fact, they're actually pretty immaterial to you. Still, the person gets even more excited because they feel the same way.

    So this person goes on to tell you that it's refreshing to talk to someone like you, someone who has seen these great films. Then they proceed to talk at some length about how they hate that they can't share this with more people, and how frustrating it is not to have more fans of French cinema around them.

    Now, you make your next move. You say things like "Yeah, for you I bet it feels like you saw this life changing movie and it sucks not being able to share that" -or- "I can imagine that from your point of view everyone should take some time out and give French cinema more of a chance".

    You try to let this person know you're seeing things from their point of view, that you understand where they are personally coming from.

    This backfires.

    Miserably.

    "Oh my gosh!", the person says, "It's so great to finally meet someone who feels the same exact way I do!".

    At this point, your brain is flopping around helplessly inside your cranium trying to come up with the most tactful way to explain that you yourself don't actually feel the same way about French cinema after all, some way to form these words without embarrassing the shit out of this person or sounding like you think they're an idiot for not realizing this, but you're already screwed.

    "Ha!", you say, "That's......awesome".

    Then you stand there helplessly as this person appoints you as their new personal French cinema BFF and praises you to the skies for having such great taste in movies. Every time you see this person you are greeted with a "Bonjour!", and you ask yourself "Why did I have to tell them I liked that movie? Why didn't I just say I think French cinema blows goats???".

    Any of this sound familiar??

    I get this all the time, and I mean all the time. I have this seemingly infinite storage bin of academic factoids and pop culture pulp inside my head and I just retain shit tons of information. I don't think I've met anyone I can't talk to about something. I try really friggin' hard to assert my place in the conversation and discuss stuff that I personally like, while paying attention to the likes of who I'm talking to. I've also been conditioned to throw those qualifiers like "From your point of view it's probably __________" and "For you it's _________" and "You probably feel __________" or what have you, but they still seem to mistake what I say as me claiming I have those feelings/perspectives myself.

    Sometimes when it happens, I seriously want to crawl under a rock and die because I feel so friggin' awkward.

    Sometimes I want to shake them and be like 'Bitch, you got ears? I was empathizing! EM-PA-THI-ZING! This thing that emotionally affects you does not affect me!! You pickin' up what I'm puttin' down right now??".
    "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get, but if you work really hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you...amazing things will happen" --Conan O'Brien

  2. #2
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    I don't think you should expect the person to realize that you're just being nice. If they start getting excited like that, calmly and quietly inform them that while you enjoyed this film or that film, you actually don't love French cinema as much as they do and you're sorry to disappoint.

    Then you can empathize with their disappointment.

  3. #3
    Senior Member BAJ's Avatar
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    You made quite a well written post; easily readable despite it's length. I enjoyed it. However, I think the only French film I saw was the "Le Femme Nikita" or something, and I thought the American version was just as good, "Point of No Return".

    I read quite a lot of spiritual books. One point emphasized there is that the model we form of the person is not the actual person. Thus, we have disappointment when some person or thing does not live up to our expectations based on our idea...in our brain...of what that person or thing is. Thus, if this person suddenly runs into a brick wall, it's not really your fault because the wall is formed in the person's mind. He put a wall around you. You are this box. You are not truly responsible for him or his emotions based on his assumptions.

    I would just say what I truly believed about it. Thus, if he liked you he'd like you for you. Thus, if his model of "you" is more precious than YOU, then do you really want to pursue association with him?

  4. #4
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    Yes, if you love someone for who they are, you don't stop liking them just cuz they don't adore BBC programming as much as yourself.

    I had that thought to chew on last night.

    People are so funny, running around, wanting mirrors - when we could just love the other person for who they are, for all their differences.

  5. #5
    Senior Member King sns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gloriana View Post
    Picture this:

    You're at a party, and a someone starts a conversation with you. They start talking to you about this French film festival they recently went to because, as they state, they're a hardcore fan of French cinema.

    You are not a hardcore fan of French cinema, but you can recall a couple of particularly good ones you saw, and so you mention these films, the actress you remember, and the plot points you found most interesting.

    This person is visibly excited that you know these films, as those are among this person's favorites. You remember some more details about those films, and so you discuss those details. The cinematography, the mood of the story, the twists in the plot. You're not emotionally invested in these details in any way, in fact, they're actually pretty immaterial to you. Still, the person gets even more excited because they feel the same way.

    So this person goes on to tell you that it's refreshing to talk to someone like you, someone who has seen these great films. Then they proceed to talk at some length about how they hate that they can't share this with more people, and how frustrating it is not to have more fans of French cinema around them.

    Now, you make your next move. You say things like "Yeah, for you I bet it feels like you saw this life changing movie and it sucks not being able to share that" -or- "I can imagine that from your point of view everyone should take some time out and give French cinema more of a chance".

    You try to let this person know you're seeing things from their point of view, that you understand where they are personally coming from.

    This backfires.

    Miserably.

    "Oh my gosh!", the person says, "It's so great to finally meet someone who feels the same exact way I do!".

    At this point, your brain is flopping around helplessly inside your cranium trying to come up with the most tactful way to explain that you yourself don't actually feel the same way about French cinema after all, some way to form these words without embarrassing the shit out of this person or sounding like you think they're an idiot for not realizing this, but you're already screwed.

    "Ha!", you say, "That's......awesome".

    Then you stand there helplessly as this person appoints you as their new personal French cinema BFF and praises you to the skies for having such great taste in movies. Every time you see this person you are greeted with a "Bonjour!", and you ask yourself "Why did I have to tell them I liked that movie? Why didn't I just say I think French cinema blows goats???".

    Any of this sound familiar??

    I get this all the time, and I mean all the time. I have this seemingly infinite storage bin of academic factoids and pop culture pulp inside my head and I just retain shit tons of information. I don't think I've met anyone I can't talk to about something. I try really friggin' hard to assert my place in the conversation and discuss stuff that I personally like, while paying attention to the likes of who I'm talking to. I've also been conditioned to throw those qualifiers like "From your point of view it's probably __________" and "For you it's _________" and "You probably feel __________" or what have you, but they still seem to mistake what I say as me claiming I have those feelings/perspectives myself.

    Sometimes when it happens, I seriously want to crawl under a rock and die because I feel so friggin' awkward.

    Sometimes I want to shake them and be like 'Bitch, you got ears? I was empathizing! EM-PA-THI-ZING! This thing that emotionally affects you does not affect me!! You pickin' up what I'm puttin' down right now??".
    Haha, Gloriana. You're just really good at empathizing I guess!! I have an ISFJ friend who has the same problem. Good listeners attract some strange folk.
    06/13 10:51:03 five sounds: you!!!
    06/13 10:51:08 shortnsweet: no you!!
    06/13 10:51:12 shortnsweet: go do your things and my things too!
    06/13 10:51:23 five sounds: oh hell naw
    06/13 10:51:55 shortnsweet: !!!!
    06/13 10:51:57 shortnsweet: (cries)
    06/13 10:52:19 RiftsWRX: You two are like furbies stuck in a shoe box

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  6. #6
    Patron Saint Of Smileys Gloriana's Avatar
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    @Marmie:

    I don't mean 'just being nice', if I outright don't like something I'll say it. My main point was people misreading my empathy/understanding of their perspectives as if I'm saying I personally feel that way. Even when I include qualifiers. I try to find ways to let them know I understand or empathize with their viewpoint along with stating my own personal viewpoint, but so often it's like they don't hear the latter. It's like they only hear the part about me understanding them.

    Sometimes it seems like I state vocally how they feel internally so well, they just assume I personally feel that way too. I used the 'French Cinema' example, but I mean this in regards to things all across the board, from hobbies to personal relationships. I try really hard to put those qualifiers in there to indicate I am trying to step into their shoes and understand their perspective, but before I know it people just assume I feel the exact same way. Again, even if I add additional details stating my own stance or feelings, it's like they just cling to that idea I experience these things as they do because I put their experience into words so accurately.

    I'm not asking for advice here, I handle it. I just wondered if anyone else experienced this particular kind of situation.

    Also, the tone of that last bit in my first post was meant to be humorous, I don't really feel aggressive toward anyone for it.
    "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get, but if you work really hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you...amazing things will happen" --Conan O'Brien

  7. #7
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    ALL the time. It's weird. This seems to lead certain people to believe that I am interested in whatever they are, whether it is goth culture, anarchy (!), hippydom, certain religious views, you name it...

    Like you, I have slipped in the aforementioned phrases which indicate that it is the person's stance and not mine, but generally to no avail.

  8. #8
    Senior Member LeafAndSky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gloriana View Post
    Any of this sound familiar??
    Yeah. And they don't just appoint you their new BFF. Some view you as immanently the new GF. Or what's even weirder to deal with, "Our meeting each other was destiny! Since you alone understand me, you will assist me in achieving my goals."

    Quote Originally Posted by Gloriana View Post
    I get this all the time, and I mean all the time. I have this seemingly infinite storage bin of academic factoids and pop culture pulp inside my head and I just retain shit tons of information. I don't think I've met anyone I can't talk to about something.
    Only on some subjects do I retain that amount of information. But a bent for overview thinking and a knack for intuitive connecting leaps has the same result.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gloriana View Post
    I try really friggin' hard to assert my place in the conversation and discuss stuff that I personally like, while paying attention to the likes of who I'm talking to. I've also been conditioned to throw those qualifiers like "From your point of view it's probably __________" and "For you it's _________" and "You probably feel __________" or what have you, but they still seem to mistake what I say as me claiming I have those feelings/perspectives myself.

    Sometimes when it happens, I seriously want to crawl under a rock and die because I feel so friggin' awkward.
    Actually, at this point I'm still into the conversation and the person and the human connection. Social isolation is a widespread problem, so I don't mind alleviating that for people when possible. Who ever takes the time to really listen to another human being?

    (But no, just because I can listen respectfully and with understanding to your conspiracy theory and how your "knowledge" affects your relationships does not mean that I agree!)

    Part of the problem creating situations like you described may be that a lot of people don't know how to do a true two-way conversation. They don't know how to reciprocate and ask the other person questions and be curious and learn. It's all about them, at least at this point in their lives.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gloriana View Post
    Sometimes I want to shake them and be like 'Bitch, you got ears? I was empathizing! EM-PA-THI-ZING! This thing that emotionally affects you does not affect me!! You pickin' up what I'm puttin' down right now??".
    I dunno, you've got a skill. Consider what you're doing for people to be a public service? And set up your little side business: become a life coach to the stars, or a hostage negotiator, and make your fortune?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Beargryllz's Avatar
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    I definitely liked Amelie

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beargryllz View Post
    I definitely liked Amelie
    ME TOO BFF 4-EVA

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