Listen Up!

November 30, 2006 at 12:49 PM (Communication, Friends, Listening)

how to recognize that you’re being a jackass, sometimes.

If you’re one of those persons who A. Likes a healthy percentage of things about themselves, and B. Has a tough-to-wrangle tendency of being highly verbal…chances are, in your communication life you’ve let some things speed out of your mouth before your brain got a chance to filter them…and those things can be so painful sometimes as to nearly cost you friendships.

First, I learned to listen as a part of working in call center customer service. It is a conscious effort that I applied liberally in my nine to five career. Seventy five percent of the time that I wanted to say something, I didn’t. The customers grew quite fond of this approach and got pissed about 50% less. Once I figured out what I was doing, I realized I had to apply it socially too. I made it my business to learn a bit more about listening. On purpose, as a project. I still run through conversations, but I am self aware now, and try to put the brakes on every now and again. There are at least two times in a given conversation when I stop and say “What’s up with you?” not as some pat question, but in a genuine realization that hey, you won’t find out the goodies in your friends lives that you *most want to hear* if you don’t fer gossake shut your mouth and hand them the floor!

And, on a related theme: How to save a friendship if you’ve just said something mind blowingly bothersome or uncomfortable or even stupid to the friend you’re chatting with, and *you don’t know it yet!*

We only really “know” our own dealbreakers for civilized discourse, I think.

If we know someone, I’ve found out over the years that that *doesn’t* mean we will know enough, be discerning enough about an individual’s emotional cues about what is said, or how what’s said is percieved to *know* when we’ve crossed some line, for that other person, and be quick enough to do damage control if the lines of communication are important.

I sucked at this for a good long while, not with everybody I know. But I learned a couple of strategies from my mistakes. When I’ve unintentionally hurt someone I ask them to give me a map of the recent conversation, to show me from *their side* where it went off the rails…If that’s ok by them, *these days* I can usually 1. Grasp their reasons for being hurt and 2. Attempt some damage control without losing my grip on what’s important to me.

If they’re too pissed off to give me the roadmap, I generally have to, for my own sanity, explain that I’m not a mindreader. Then, they get madder for a moment and say “Of *course* I’m not expecting you to be a mind reader….” and then I ask…”but you expect me to know why you’re mad without you having to elaborate, right?” Grudging acceptance of that occurs and it’s either the end of the connection or the beginning of some reweaving…

And some people just get incendiary in such a way that you see no cues being given that an explosion is about to occur…doesn’t mean they don’t have ‘tells.’ You just missed them, and it’s not a fault…their ‘tells’ are set up differently than the ones you’re used to, or subtler, or not detectable through the guessing game tone of an internet-only communication. That’s happened to me more than once, and feels damned peculiar, as if you were about to bite into an ice cream cone and tasted unfettered habanero peppers instead.

I can think of two people, one from college and a really good recent female friend that wanted to resolve their anger/difference/uncomfortableness with me by simply dropping out of sight. They wanted to go into a corner and lick their wounds and never speak with me again, and I had no idea why…still don’t. I would genuinely try to make amends if either one approached me, but neither has done so in years and so I’ve just had to hang that hurt up, that idea that I’m just too difficult to be in their clean and sparkly universes…and say, okay, I hope they’re happy and I wish them well…the end.

I’m still hurt, but there’s nothing on God’s earth I can do that will make either of them write/email/call me.And, over the net is harder because you *don’t* get eye contact,body language, tone…

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Favorite. Blog. Post. Ever.

November 29, 2006 at 4:27 PM (Polyandry) ()

About the peculiar forms marriage can, or should, be allowed by Deity to take. (Satire/Snark alert)

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Impaired who sue depicted as nuisances

November 29, 2006 at 11:53 AM (Business Owning Whiners, Lawsuits) ()

because business owners don’t like the way the ADA is written, and the lawsuits that are presently the only way of bringing a grievance against a non-compliant business.

I love this article because there’s so much subtext, the waders get lost in it.

The bathrooms in the country club were opulent, with marble floors and antique furniture. But months after buying the property, the owners gutted them. The
problem: The bathroom walls were an inch too narrow under the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act.

Meaning: Luxury is only for the able. (I refer you to my 2000 trip to Vegas for the millenium…um, no. I did not stay at the Bellagio, but neither did I hang my hat at the local Motel 6)

Only the able could possibly be members. Families of wealth get hit by impairment too, and what about the rich old lady who has been a member for 40 years and finds
out that her scooter/powerchair is an inch too wide for the restrooms…

And, how long has the ADA been in effect anyway? Sixteen years give or take. I think the captains of industry can do the math.

The problem: The bathroom walls were an inch too narrow under the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act.

“Give us an inch…”

So, the country club, as so many other businesses have been, was sued in order that it bring itself into compliance with a sixteen year old law.
The article goes on painting the impaired as bitter crabby nuisances who have nothing better to do than enrich lawyers.

Here’s the key that the businesses (and the author of the article clearly in sympathy with them?)

would like you to miss.

Some experts blame the way the law is drafted.

“Sure, someone is making money off of these lawsuits,” said Ruth Colker, a law professor at Ohio State University. “But the problem … is that there is no effective enforcement mechanism if we don’t have these kinds of lawsuits.”

The article then insinuates that unethical clients and their lawyers collude to pay the impaired claimants, which violates the way these suits should be brought. The impaired claimants cannot use these suits as money generating enterprises for themselves.

*If* that is occuring, then the law needs to be changed to stop such practice. But the number and amount of lawsuits that *are the only reason venues brought themselves into compliance* have to continue, or businesses will not comply, and continue to deny access as a civil right. If we had an OSHA-like compliance board with safeguards built in to avoid even the appearance of under the table payments to claimaints, *the number of lawsuits* would drastically decrease.

So, I say to the businesses, ask your congress critter to propose some legislation to create such a board and reduce the lawsuits so that a watchdog agency could do the job rather than having the impaired constantly sue for that which should be automatically granted: Access.

But of course the businesses won’t because what they won’t tell our intrepid journalist here is that if an OSHA-like compliance board was created, it would cost non-compliant businesses much more than these lawsuits do now.

So they whine for what they want, which is a toothless ADA with no real possibility through lawsuits or any other method, to bring them into compliance.

Quit your yapping, business owners, and go have a couple of drinks at the remodeled country club. Be sure and stop in the restrooms and think about the money you could have saved if your contractors had been instructed/measured properly in the first place.

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Wreath Wrath (Updated)

November 27, 2006 at 10:27 PM (Idiocy)

Only in Colorado. Apparently a condominum board leader wanted a tenant to take this evil symbol down as an “antiwar protest” or face a 25 dollar a day fine.
All the other board members must have known this symbol was a peace sign, and said “C’mon fellah. It’s the holidays. Peace is what we’re celebrating here.”
He fired them.
Update: apparently the fired folk have been ‘rehired’ and the condo owner has recieved an apology from the board and been advised she can keep her wreath without wrath.

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What’s in a name?

November 27, 2006 at 8:45 PM (inquiry, Sizism)

The decision maker at the NYT has muddied the waters so much on this I don’t know whether to be glad or pissed off. First, why in all the many circles of hell did it end up in the Fashion and Style department? I watch Bravo, so I *know* fat isn’t the new thin.

(Oh, and BTW Bravo? ‘Braveheart’ was a great flick, but can you show *anything* else? Just because Gibson’s getting wacky doesn’t mean I have to watch him sixteen times a month.)

Glad, because the subject of the article says “I’m fat. So what,” which will be my newest response to those that can’t see my low and even cholesterol and blood pressure numbers as a sign of improved health. I’m doomed because I take up too much space and damn the test results.

Do I want the study of people’s attitude and response to fat people to become an integrated part of an existing studies program at a university? Yes, absolutely past time. Because attitude towards heavyset persons contributes in a major way to stresses and economic shortfalls they face. But is the name “fat studies” generating more ha ha point and laugh than I should have to read through in an hour of blog searching? Yes, and Ann Althouse and her commenters can kiss my…well you know.

I’m not shying away from claiming the word “fat” I figure that’s a good idea. But, is it more important to claim that word, or be taken seriously as an area for academic inquiry?

Who has it better, who has it worse, who has been most oppressed, who has been least…or those who act as if since prejudice shouldn’t exist, it doesn’t.

The troubling phenomenon of one ostracized group unable to recognize themselves doing the *very same thing,* to another group, all in the name, it seems of either denying ostracism happens at all, from a lofty perch of privilege, or in the name of hanging on to a higher rung in the ladder than the ones beneath them.

When did seeing commonalities become an insult? (for example: sexism, versus ableism, versus racism, versus homophobia, versus sizism) It’s not about “who has it worse…” or “Thank God I’m not part of [name of scorned group of persons].

I want the next degree program to recognize the commonality in all of the above and not move people forward until they’ve done some heavy research into why and how these ostracisms are connected and *how to fix it withought screwing another group of opressed persons. A little practicality along with ‘publish or perish.’ * Programs that fracture are good for the fact of getting certain issues into the public eye…but afterwards if the sound work isn’t done connecting new avenues of inquiry into what’s gone before…it opens up the field, whatever it is, for some pretty shrill and nasty criticism.

Then move forward in the old way: Don’t bend the primary source material to fit the facts, and by the same token don’t ignore the bias in primary and secondary sources.

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