Sunday, October 23, 2011

I wasn't evasive

I detest evasiveness. At times I find it rude. If someone asks you a question and you don't want to answer, it is polite to give some sort of answer and then change the subject to something you are more comfortable discussing. That is basic. But its the one's who will never answer any questions  on any subject that really rile me. If you say 'did you have a nice lunch?' and they can't give any kind of answer - from it was okay, I had a tuna, I skipped lunch and went shopping or whatever but the lack of any kind of answer becomes rude. I don't need to know everyone's life story but sometimes a light conversation becomes impossible. Someone who is incapable of answering any kind of question, especially if they seek you out for social events, either has significant 'issues' and/or no social skills.

I know a few people but don't spend time with them because they don't answer questions. They only ask me questions.  If you ask them an innocuous question such as 'what did you do for the holiday?' they evade the question. That is an easy question you could answer it in any number of ways 'I saw some friends, got together with family, went to a restaurant, brought a pie over to join friends for dessert, etc'. One woman said to me 'I didn't do anything'. A few weeks later another friend told me that she came to their house for the holiday. The original answer was basically a lie which is very rude.

I find when I spend time with people like this, I feel very frustrated. It is impossible to have a conversation with them, you can never get a clear answer, and I come away from it resenting them. They seem to want to know everything about me but refuse to tell me anything about them in return. It should be an even trade. You asked me what I did for the holiday and I told you but when I ask you, you lied. You asked me what I did for lunch and I told you but when I asked you in return, you couldn't/wouldn't answer.

I have had this happen with these people even when making choices on a menu at a restaurant - Caroline, what are you going to have?' 'I'm thinking of the chicken. What about you?' 'Why are you choosing the chicken, what do you think of the steak?' 'I'm in the mood for chicken.' 'Are you getting a salad or vegetables?' And on and on and on. Um, is my opinion that important to you or are you just incapable of making your own decision or have no social skills or practicing your skills for the next inquisition?

What happens in the end is I refuse to spend time with them and avoid them. I don't consider them a friend at any level and don't waste my time with them as I think they are rude.

However there are times when a little evasiveness is called for. I am sometimes evasive with my health issues when I am not ready to discuss them. If asked if about something I am not ready to discuss, I simply say 'I'm waiting to go back to my doctor', or 'I'm feeling okay these days', etc. Which is some sort of answer and allows for a conversation. I also sometimes use some evasiveness to edit myself. When I wear my lymphedema sleeve - which is only at the gym or when my arm is bothering me - sometimes people ask what it is. I have taught myself to just say it is a compression sleeve and that's it. Its the truth, its a compression sleeve but there is no reason for me to go on and say 'well I had breast cancer and now lymphedema'. I do not need to spew out my medical history to virtual strangers.

Earlier this week, a woman walked into the locker room a t the gym as I was putting on my sleeve before going to lift weights. She asked what the sleeve was for and I said it was a compression sleeve due to arm issues. That was enough. That was all she needed to know. I was slightly evasive I felt but told as much of the truth as I wanted. She got an answer that she was seeking and was satisfied. We both were happy with the interaction.

I left the locker room and went into the weight room where there was a woman working out. She asked me 'did you have an axiallary node dissection? I'm a physician. But I don't mean to pry." I said yes and we had a discussion about how long after surgery that I developed lymphedema (1.5 years) and what caused it (a fall on my arm on ice). But we didn't discuss my cancer etc. It wasn't part of the discussion. In the second  conversation I told what as much of the truth as I wanted and she got the answer she was seeking and was satisfied as well. We were also both happy with the interaction. I felt I was a little evasive by not telling the whole story but I also didn't feel the need to unload my medical history - she wasn't my doctor.

The balance of evasiveness with telling the polite truth can be a fine one. Not everyone wants to know my medical history anyway. Its also me coping with my issues in learning to talk about things politely without evading and without recounting my entire medical file. I don't want to be rude and think I have figured out basic politeness by now.

2 comments:

Bruce said...

Thanks for sharing this blog
All about breast cancer

Judy Mintz said...

So funny. Today I'm writing about how I get irritated with people who *don't* ask questions! Does that mean that when we're together you're slowly boiling because I'm asking you questions? Hmm. We're meeting for coffee this afternoon, I think I'll just sit quietly until you ask me something, then hog the floor.