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  1. #31
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    I feel compelled to add too - most folks know that the socially graceful thing to do is NOT to say back, "Why, it's not your fault". People who do make a choice to shift the situation to awkward as well, so shouldn't be completely absolved of responsibility there.

    "I'm sorry" is a quick shorthand for the extended version, and we all know that. I think too as women we tend to apologize a lot, don't know why we do that, but we do.

    The socially appropriate response is simply "Thanks".
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  2. #32
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turtledove View Post
    When I was in college, I took a personality psychology class. The teacher was explaining a chapter I can't quite remember, but I remember this coming up. He said that people suffering the loss of perhaps a loved one or something of that nature does not need someone to give sympathy by saying your sorry, but instead that it is best to ask the person, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
    I totally hear what your teacher was saying. The funny thing, though, is that if I were the one who had just had the bad news, and someone said "is there anything I can do for you", I think in a lot of cases that might actually make me feel more awkward/obliged than if they said "I'm sorry."

    I'm generally quite reluctant to ask people for anything so that might have something to do with it. But I think I would feel a bit like "oh no, I told them about my bad news, and now they feel like they need to do something for me?"

    Again though it would depend a lot on our relationship, and on the specific situation. I have definitely said something like "is there something I can do" to someone I'm at least close-ish to. And if a good friend said that to me when I'd had bad news, I'd probably say "thanks, but I have all the help I need for now, but it would be great if we could have a coffee and just talk, soon." Or whatever.

    It's interesting to see how differently people feel about these things.
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  3. #33
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    That sounds painful.

    You have my sympathies.
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  4. #34
    Senior Member Turtledove's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I totally hear what your teacher was saying. The funny thing, though, is that if I were the one who had just had the bad news, and someone said "is there anything I can do for you", I think in a lot of cases that might actually make me feel more awkward/obliged than if they said "I'm sorry."

    I'm generally quite reluctant to ask people for anything so that might have something to do with it. But I think I would feel a bit like "oh no, I told them about my bad news, and now they feel like they need to do something for me?"

    Again though it would depend a lot on our relationship, and on the specific situation. I have definitely said something like "is there something I can do" to someone I'm at least close-ish to. And if a good friend said that to me when I'd had bad news, I'd probably say "thanks, but I have all the help I need for now, but it would be great if we could have a coffee and just talk, soon." Or whatever.

    It's interesting to see how differently people feel about these things.
    Well, I also think along the lines that you actually do have to genuinely care about the person's need and may have to be a little pushy that you are willing to help and are available to them. I tried it once after they found out in distress their grandma died and she simply said "Give us prayer." I almost made a friend but both of us were reluctant to talk to one another.

    But Vasilisa's post sounds much better to say.
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  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by JocktheMotie View Post
    This is why I never tell people things. Everyone feels the need to interpret my emotional stance and manage it for me. Or at least, that's how it appears. Why can't I just exchange data without all the crap.
    Agreed. It sometimes seems like it is for the benefit for the other person to make themselves feel better about the situation via projection of how they interpret the situation.

  6. #36
    (blankpages) Xenon's Avatar
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    It's an odd reaction, yeah. I'm seeing this similarly to @bologna; they can't possibly think you believe it's your fault. More likely they're uncomfortable with the exchange, for whatever reason, and some good ones have been mentioned (they don't want to burden you, or they feel their emotional reaction isn't being reflected accurately, or the relationship between you isn't such that they're comfortable with discussing personal stuff), and so they're trying to tone down/shrug off the touchy-feeliness.

    I don't ever say things like that myself. I know how awkward I feel trying to respond to someone else's pain; I don't want to make anyone else feel like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I totally hear what your teacher was saying. The funny thing, though, is that if I were the one who had just had the bad news, and someone said "is there anything I can do for you", I think in a lot of cases that might actually make me feel more awkward/obliged than if they said "I'm sorry."

    I'm generally quite reluctant to ask people for anything so that might have something to do with it. But I think I would feel a bit like "oh no, I told them about my bad news, and now they feel like they need to do something for me?"
    Yeah...the advice I've heard is that it's better to offer to do something specific for them at a specific time, because that way they don't have the burden of thinking of something for you to do and asking you to do it.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    It's interesting to see how differently people feel about these things.
    Yep. Sometimes reading things like this makes these situations seem like a minefield to me...like no matter what you say or do, there's a chance the person will respond negatively to it. Part of the reason I'm so prone to feeling uncomfortable.

  7. #37
    Undisciplined Starry's Avatar
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    Yah...I'm kinda with @Elaur on this. I think this is becoming one of those 'scripted/go-to' responses. Like...'How are you?' 'I'm fine.' 'I'm so sorry.' 'Don't be, it's not your fault.'

    I think it is just really hard in this day-and-age. Life really doesn't slow down when tragedy strikes...and it has become increasingly difficult to ascertain who sincerely cares and who doesn't. Who truly feels sorry for you...or who is just utilizing 'the script' in order to 'make nice' and subsequently get something out of you...'I'm so sorry for your loss...Now about those reports you're working on...'

    ^^^I almost want to say that in some instances...that response is a way to get back on equal-footing with the individaul that expressed the 'I'm so sorry' sentiment. In situations where things don't slow down...like in the workplace...the 'I'm so sorry' can kinda feel like 'pity' or 'being humored'. Like...'My life is fantastic right now...so I feel especially sorry for you' (there is some sort of separating quality to the statement)...or like I said above...not really giving a shit...but using the proper social script.

    This is an unfortunate thing for individuals that truly mean it when they say 'Sorry'. But I generally feel more comfortable with individuals that instantly relate to me as opposed to feeling sorry for me. Like...'oh yah...when I went through that I felt like <insert shitty feeling>.'

  8. #38
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starry View Post

    This is an unfortunate thing for individuals that truly mean it when they say 'Sorry'. But I generally feel more comfortable with individuals that instantly relate to me as opposed to feeling sorry for me. Like...'oh yah...when I went through that I felt like <insert shitty feeling>.'
    Yeah, I think the thing I worry about in saying "when I went through this, I felt like..." is that they're going to think I'm saying "I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL" which to me would be a dismissive/presumptuous reaction. If I said anything along those lines, I'd probably qualify it massively. Like, "I know it's not really the same situation, but it might be a bit like when I went through x and y, and I felt like such and such..." But then that's almost over-qualifying it...dunno.

    I think that even if I chose to say "I'm sorry," I would kind of wait to see where they took it from there. Like, I might ask them more about the situation if they seemed open to that, or tell them about my friend who went through something similar. I would hope that "I'm sorry" would kind of open the door - not close it. I would HATE to say "I'm sorry...now, back to work." Ouch, so dismissive.

    I slightly regret starting this thread now, it feels like even more of a minefield.
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  9. #39
    Undisciplined Starry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I slightly regret starting this thread now, it feels like even more of a minefield.
    I'm glad you started it. I actually thought it was really interesting...and it has been interesting to see the different responses.

    It is hard to know what to do in these type of situations. A response that would make me feel comfortable...may be totally off-putting to someone else.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    Yeah!

    I guess I could start saying "Damn. That sucks." It just doesn't seem quite right a lot of the time.
    i found the canadian "i'm sorry for your loss" to be confusing, and i don't think the time of loss is the best time to expect someone to remember their social graces, often loss is difficult to acknowledge straight after it happens so people don't associate "i'm sorry" with the condition they are in on an immediate basis, and treat "i'm sorry" the way they are used to otherwise.

    so i directly translated the hebrew "i share in your sorrow". it was very appreciated and immoderately understood because there was no automatic response to it. but being a foreigner might have given it legitimacy.

    alternatively, feel free to try this ready-made condolences poetry from south africa's finest.

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