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Boundaries

Snoopy

You have the right to say no.

When I wrote that sentence, it felt absurd. Of course you have the right to say no. We all do. “Just say no!” “No means no!” And yet…

We grow up learning that “No” is rude. It’s more important to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. It’s important to be polite and accommodating. Setting boundaries and prioritizing our own comfort and safety is selfish. We push these lessons even harder on women, expecting them to be caretakers, putting everyone else’s needs above their own.

Screw that.

I think Listening Ear training - where I became a volunteer crisis and sexual assault counselor - was the first time I really started to learn about the importance of boundaries. We talked about it first in the context of sexual harassment and assault.

You have the right to set your own boundaries, to say no and to have that be respected.

It’s something my culture is really bad at. We treat “No” as a challenge, a hurdle to be overcome through pressure, alcohol, emotional manipulation, even physical force.

It’s not just sexual. Over the weekend, I was talking on Facebook about an incident where a friend offered me food. I said no, and she immediately responded with, “Oh, why not? Come on, just take one.”

A few people didn’t understand why this bothered me so much. She wasn’t trying to be mean. Why was I blowing it all out of proportion? (The phrases “drama queen” and “mountain out of a molehill” were used.)

Ironically, this led to me choosing to set another boundary, telling someone he was no longer welcome in the conversation. That boundary was ignored. He wanted to argue his point. He complained I was just upset because he didn’t agree with me. He wanted me to explain.

When someone sets a boundary, your job is to respect that. You might not understand. You might feel hurt. You might be pissed off.

It doesn’t matter.

Your confusion, your hurt feelings, the fact that you don’t like someone telling you no, none of that gives you the right to violate someone else’s boundaries.

Whether it’s someone trying to pressure you into bed or someone who keeps pushing their homemade cheesecake at you, you have the right to say no.

I’ve lost friends because I had the gall to set boundaries in my own space, online or in real life. This happened a while back with an editor I considered a friend, and I still don’t understand why things immediately went to hell when I said I wasn’t in a space to have this conversation. Maybe I wasn’t nice enough about it? Maybe I didn’t adopt the proper tone?  I don’t know.

How often do we teach people that they have the right to take care of themselves? Why don’t we teach that it’s okay to set boundaries? And why the hell don’t we teach people to respect them?

You have the right to set boundaries. You have the right to have those boundaries respected.

  • Not “You have the right to say no as long as you’re nice enough.”
  • Not “You have the right to say no but I’m gonna try to change your mind.”
  • Not “You have the right to say no unless I think you’re wrong.”
  • Not “You have the right to say no once you can give me a satisfactory explanation as to why you’re saying no.”

When someone says no, the correct response is “Okay.” If you don’t understand, that’s fine. You don’t have to understand. Maybe the other person will be willing to explain. Maybe not. But they don’t owe you an explanation.

You have the right to say no, period. And if someone can’t accept that, then the hell with them. The problem isn’t you.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

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jhetley
Jun. 11th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
Yes.
jhetley
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:24 pm (UTC)
Of course, the "You can't say 'No!'" comes down from the top. You are not allowed to say "no" to god or king or country . . .
mrissa
Jun. 11th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
I think that in our culture, people in general and women in particular are taught to make excuses. So the very act of not making excuses is sometimes revolutionary.

But the thing is, excuses can be overcome. I learned this when markgritter was playing saxophone for a church, and they wanted me to sing in their choir. I didn't want to. But instead of saying, "Oh, no thank you," I made excuses. And the choir director overcame each of my excuses--at some effort to herself--and at 22, I felt cornered and sang in that choir. I didn't want to. It was a bad choir, and I did not like it.

It was also a huge life lesson. Excuses make things into a negotiation. Some things are negotiations. Some things are not. If you really mean that you would love to sing in that church choir except for the following factors, by all means say so. But if what you mean is that you would rather fend off rabid hyenas with a nerf bat, just say no thank you.

Now when I talk to my friends, particularly my women friends, about things they have been asked to do and do not want to do, they will say things like, "I think I'm just going to tell him/her--" And I say, "You do not have to tell him/her anything. You can tell him/her no thank you. 'That's not going to work for me. No thanks.'"

They don't always believe me. But I'm not lying to them. (Of course, I'm not guaranteeing that the other person will not whine, pitch a fit, demand reasons, or generally be unpleasant. But being firm, calm, and polite is still a good way to go. "I won't be doing that. No. I don't care to. No." And if necessary, faintly sarcastic: "My goodness, Perceval! I had no idea the brownies were mandatory!" "Was this choir rehearsal the last wish of the dying empress, Hepzibah, or is there some other reason you can't take a polite no for an answer?")
jimhines
Jun. 11th, 2012 01:52 pm (UTC)
I want to click all the +1 buttons for this comment.
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j_cheney
Jun. 11th, 2012 01:44 pm (UTC)
Well said, Jim ;o)
la_marquise_de_
Jun. 11th, 2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
It can be hard to say 'no'. It can be even harder to get other people to hear it. In my former career, I learnt early on that women did not get to say 'no' and have it recognised. We weren't as real
as the men we worked alongside, and we had fewer rights.
It's hard to set boundaries when the penalties for so doing are so high - they have, in my own experience, ranged from violent punishment to social disapproval to bullying to withdrawal of friendship.
It's complicated.
jimhines
Jun. 11th, 2012 01:54 pm (UTC)
Yes. The more I learned and paid attention, the more I saw problems in two areas:

-We don't teach people (especially women) that it's okay to say no.

-We don't teach people to respect no (especially when spoken by women).

It's messy and incredibly frustrating, but I feel like it *shouldn't* be complicated, if that makes sense?
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reedrover
Jun. 11th, 2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I really dislike social hugs most of the time. But right now, I really want to reach through cyberspace and hug you for this.
sarahmichigan
Jun. 11th, 2012 01:58 pm (UTC)
I try really hard not to be a food-pusher. I understand from the viewpoint of a former dieter who now pursues the philosophy of Health at Every Size that I don't want other people telling me what I ought to eat and shouldn't eat, so I try not to be the one giving other people a hard time about their food choices.
jimhines
Jun. 11th, 2012 02:04 pm (UTC)
It's a sensitive one for me mostly because of the diabetes, which means I have a lot more people trying to tell me -- with nothing but helpful intentions, I'm sure -- what I can and can't eat.

99% of the time they don't know enough about diabetes to make that call, and even if they did, they don't know enough about *me* and my blood sugar control to do it.

I know they mean well, but it frustrates me to no end.
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fadethecat
Jun. 11th, 2012 01:59 pm (UTC)
Augh. Everything you said.

And frankly, it doesn't help that in certain contexts it's considered polite to say No when you don't really mean it. I remember being scolded as a child (not by my parents, but by another child) because when I was offered a drink by an adult in their house, I said Yes Thank You. Apparently I was supposed to know to say No, and only if pressed take the offer as a real one that could be accepted.

It strikes me as very bad precedent to have "Say no a few times, and then give in if they keep asking" part of a behavior pattern accepted as polite.
jimhines
Jun. 11th, 2012 02:02 pm (UTC)
It strikes me as very bad precedent to have "Say no a few times, and then give in if they keep asking" part of a behavior pattern accepted as polite.

YES!!!

It came up in the FB discussion too, that for some people, this is what they were raised to do as part of being polite.

I understand that it's hard to overcome how we were raised, but I also think it's messed up, and we need to stop teaching that lesson.
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hilleviw
Jun. 11th, 2012 02:01 pm (UTC)
I think no is a word that is gaining purchase, or perhaps that's just my experience as a woman who is aging (I just turned 48).

I suspect that part of the problem with no and boundary setting, is that, in fact, they don't become rights until you get older. When my 3-year-old niece says no, chances are good she gets outvoted. She *does* have to eat her veg, she *does* have to go to bed, she *does* have to wear shoes to playgroup.

Culturally I see at least one major improvement in boundary setting: 30 years ago, when I was a teen, I'd get called "tease" for saying no to sexual advances. I haven't heard that in decades, and it's not because I've stopped being selective.
jimhines
Jun. 11th, 2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
I was thinking about my kids as I wrote this. Like you say, with children, there are a lot of times when you do have to say no and set boundaries, but there are also times when the kids say no and you have to override them.

“It’s time to stop playing video games and come to dinner.”
“No, I want to keep playing!”

But I think it’s important to also show them that they do have the right to say no in other areas. Physical boundaries, for example — if my kid doesn’t want a hug or kiss, then I should respect that and teach them that they get to set those rules and make those choices.

They need to learn both that they do have the power to say no, at least in some areas, but they also need to learn how to accept no and respect other people’s boundaries.
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marrael
Jun. 11th, 2012 02:03 pm (UTC)
You have no idea how much this means to me at the moment. I've been learning this lesson SO HARD the recent years. And I'm sick of having the guilt trap laid on me when I say no. I still have some trouble with this at work, but in personal life, I don't want to swallow the BS anymore. I don't care about the labels I attract now; No means no. If my "no" isn't respected, I walk away.
deliiria
Jun. 11th, 2012 02:06 pm (UTC)
this post = awesome.
suricattus
Jun. 11th, 2012 02:27 pm (UTC)
I was taught to say no as a child (my parents were savvy about the world, and how a girlchild could get overrun), but high school taught me that "no" meant "fine then, we'll ignore you."

It's a hard balance to find. You get called a bitch (or worse) for sticking to your guns, and are taken advantage if you relent (and it's not as though anyone respects you for giving in).

Now, I'm a sharp-tongued bitch and if I want to do something I will, and if I don't want to I'll say no, and if I'm not decided yet I'll say "I'm not sure, let me think about it." Which, yes, is the time for you to make another appeal, but it's still my decision. This should not be so difficult.

[I find that I run into this problem more often traveling in the American South than the North, which supports claims of a culture divide...jury's still out on travel overseas, as there are probably language cues I'm missing ]
jimhines
Jun. 11th, 2012 02:58 pm (UTC)
I wonder what it says about a society that has such a hard time taking no for an answer...
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threeoutside
Jun. 11th, 2012 05:08 pm (UTC)
"ex-bf, who rarely says no as a word, but sometimes it comes across in his actions...but very muted"

That's called passive-aggressive, and it is poisonous.
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serialbabbler
Jun. 11th, 2012 02:38 pm (UTC)
A couple months ago, I had a creepy neighbor who kept informing me how incredibly respectful he was being because every time I told him to back off about something, he would. Of course, then he'd start up again a short time later. No not only means no, it's going to continue to mean no ten minutes from now.
jimhines
Jun. 11th, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC)
::Facepalm::
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cathshaffer
Jun. 11th, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
I've been working on this a lot myself. I don't want to disappoint people, and I want to believe everyone is a good person who has my best interests at heart. It just ain't true. So I've been gradually firming up my boundaries and practicing enforcing them. Here's a funny thing that happens. The more attention you pay to your own boundaries, the more sensitive you are to others. I don't think I've ever been the pushy type, but in the past I've taken it more personally than necessary when people denied me, reading more into their refusal than necessary. Now that I'm more comforable SAYING no, I'm also more graceful about ACCEPTING a no. People who always say yes don't understand that a no isn't an insult or a sign of dislike or something. I can be fine with it. And because I'm not so afraid of being told no, it also doesn't cost as much to ask for something, or to offer ideas that might be rejected, because, hey, why not? Having boundaries leads to good things.

As well, people I know with poor boundaries also seem to be poor respecters of boundaries, taking denials personally, harboring grudges, fear of conflict, passive aggressive behavior, etc. It can be a whole package of problematic goodies.
controuble
Jun. 11th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
Not “You have the right to say no once you can give me a satisfactory explanation as to why you’re saying no.”

I wish that were true for my son - a lot of autistic kids need to understand the why of everything. "Because I'm the mommy," just doesn't cut it with him.
jimhines
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
Some of this gets more complicated with children in general. As a Dad, sometimes it's my job to say no, or to say the kids have to do something they don't want to. (Vaccinations, eating healthy, etc.)

With my son, what I've been trying to do is help him learn to accept the "No" first, and then we talk about it more.
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silvertwi
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:17 pm (UTC)
Posts like this are the reason I keep reading your blog.

Thank you.

All of my friends are the types who respect boundaries and set their own. I suspect we wouldn't be friends if that wasn't true.

On the other hand, a huge part of my difficulties with my mother and her side of my family (parents separated when I was little), is that I tend to get told I'm being rude or mean whenever I say no. My mother didn't believe me when I told her they don't allow me to say no, but I can't recall a single instance where a simple 'no' didn't elicit a temper tantrum, a scolding, and/or multiple people calling me the b word. And as often as not, my mother tries to get me to do things like hug people I don't want to by telling me to in front of them. It's a really horrible family dynamic in her household. Lack of boundaries explains why a lot of things don't work right.

Thankfully, my father, step-mother, and sister are a whole other story. I'm still a little dumbfounded by the fact that my sister is really good at apologizing when she's done something that she needs to apologize for. That never happens with my siblings on my mother's side. Sis may be 16 and hormonally unbalanced, but she's good at setting and respecting boundaries with the family, for which she has my profound respect.
teague
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
Hi. I was linked here by a friend. May I share this with others by hitting the share button? It's ok if you say no. :D
jimhines
Jun. 11th, 2012 05:54 pm (UTC)
"It's ok if you say no. :D"

Heh :-)

My personal preference would be a link or an excerpt with a link back, but if you'd rather share it, I won't say no to that.

That's an honest response, and I'm not just trying to be polite. If I was truly uncomfortable with the sharing in this case, I'd say no.

And thank you for asking!
dulcimeoww
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:29 pm (UTC)
I agree, we don't respect no in this society, but what really makes me nuts is when people ignore the other side of that right of refusal. We don't just have the right to refuse, to set boundaries, and to look out for ourselves, we also have the responsibility to do so.

I go to a lot of cons, and there are a lot of people who don't understand that concept of boundaries... and yeah, being touched and crowded without permission is an intrusion and it makes me uncomfortable, but it's my job to say so or not. If I choose not to communicate my boundaries, it isn't fair to be upset when people fail to respect them. It might seem like they should be obvious and should be followed automatically, and I shouldn't have to say anything, but what's obvious to some people truly isn't obvious to others. My specific ruleset is almost certainly not as default as I feel it should be (honestly, it probably wouldn't be healthy for everyone, anyways). It's our responsibility to make certain that our boundaries are spelled out clearly and honestly if we want them to be followed. We can't assume people will know.

I confess, I run into that same problem from the other side all the time, too, because I am a strong woman. Not strong for a woman, just strong and commanding by nature. I have a personality like a tidal wave, and that means that sometimes, people get swept under. I try very hard to be conscious of this, and to respect people's boundaries, but I can't do that if they don't communicate those boundaries to me. Even though I am aware of the problem and work to compensate for it, the truth is that sometimes I simply won't notice a boundary that's in my way unless you point it out to me, even if I'm actively looking for it. And no, I'm not entitled to an explanation for those boundaries, but I'm a lot better at noticing them if I understand why they're there so I know where to look for them in other not-completely-identical situations. Sometimes asking why isn't challenging someone's choice, it's looking for context to understand it and honor it better.

It's all a matter of balance. We all have to actively try to respect people's boundaries, and we have to start by respecting our own enough to speak up about them. We have to understand that people don't automatically understand us, and decide for ourselves whether or not it's worth it to explain it to them. Sometimes, it might not be, and sometimes it will be absolutely essential. It's up to us to know which, because we're the only ones who can.
serialbabbler
Jun. 11th, 2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
Part of the problem is that the boundaries we take as a given are also the ones that tend to cause the most shock when people choose to ignore them or are unaware of them.

So, for instance, I don't mind having to tell people I don't know well that I'm not comfortable with casual hugging because there's so much normal variation about what constitutes appropriate behavior in that regard. If somebody hugs me without asking, I might get uncomfortable, but I probably won't have any trouble telling them that I'd rather not be hugged in the future. I'm not likely to get angry unless they proceed to disregard my preferences after that.

On the other hand, I don't feel like I should have to tell people that I'm not comfortable with casual ass-grabbing. There may be some contexts in which ass-grabbing is normal behavior in my culture, but I usually try to avoid those contexts. So my immediate reaction to somebody grabbing my ass is going to be either shocked disbelief (in which case I may not appear to react at all) or anger. Calmly telling them that they have crossed one of my personal boundaries is probably going to be pretty low down on the list of responses I'm even capable of at that point.

Which is hard on people who come from a different culture or somehow managed to miss learning that particular unspoken rule, but may ultimately be one of the unavoidable aspects of living with other humans.
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darkangel_wings
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
Yes, all of this.

No one (and I know it happens a lot with women, though I know it isn't exclusive to women) should be afraid to say no. And yet, we're conditioned to be. We're made to feel guilty; like we're mean; like it means we don't care about the person we just said "no" to; or, in a more gendered response, that we're "just being a bitch"...

And I think it's an even bigger problem that it seems rare to find someone who will respect a set boundary without demanding reasons, or without trying to change your mind, or without some other attempt at coercing you to do whatever it is you don't want to do.

Both of these are huge problems, as you've pointed out. That people don't feel comfortable or like they actually have the right to say "no," and that people feel like they have the right to ignore the "no"s that are given.
queenoftheskies
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Jim.
deborahjross
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
So often, people (mostly women) are pressured to ignore their gut-level reactions. Those reactions are our early danger-warning signals. Someone else might assess the risk differently, but they aren't the ones who will suffer the consequences.

Only we can take care of ourselves, and we do that by trusting our instincts. Even if it means being rude. Especially if it means being rude.

Says she, who once had occasion to say, very loudly, in the middle of a party, "TAKE YOUR HAND OFF MY BREAST!" And was never approached by that person again.

(The next move would have been to stomp down on his instep, since his had positioned himself conveniently, but it never came to that. Making the assault public sufficed quite nicely.)
jimhines
Jun. 11th, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
Yes. It's all connected, the pressure to be nice and quiet and not make a fuss and so on ... and it's harmful.

Earlier this year, my daughter called me from a friend's house because there was a car with people watching them and she got a funny feeling about it. I did everything I could to reinforce that she had done *exactly* the right thing, because I really, really want her to learn to trust herself.

Also, while I don't generally consider myself a violent person, I wanted to give a +1 to the instep stomp in that situation.
(no subject) - deborahjross - Jun. 11th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - 3rdragon - Jun. 11th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - houseboatonstyx - Jun. 18th, 2012 02:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
vita_ganieda
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
Hearts for this.

People absolutely underestimate the constant, insidious pressure to be "polite" and "nice" and "sweet" when you're setting a boundary, especially for women ("Don't be a bitch"), especially when the cardboard image of unacceptable sexist behavior our culture so helpfully provides us with is a big, sleazy looking guy who slaps your butt or a be-hoodied rapist in a bush.

My parents are brilliant, brave, feminist people, and they taught me about bodily autonomy. I have cheerfully shut down street harassers and in middle school I punched a boy who Bad Touched me. And yet nine times out of ten, I am TOTALLY INCAPABLE of reinforcing a boundary that's being crossed by someone in a "friendly" or "normal" enough manner.

You can't refuse to dance with that boy at the school sock hop, you'll hurt his feelings. Your boss isn't being that weird, stop overreacting. This guy may have cornered you when you want to get to lunch, but you can't not talk to him. He was nice enough to offer to buy you a drink, what are you going to do, say no?

I'm still working on how to be a decent member of society and make sure my boundaries are respected. Then maybe someday I can teach my hypothetical progeny how to do the same.
chamekke
Jun. 11th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
I have cheerfully shut down street harassers and in middle school I punched a boy who Bad Touched me. And yet nine times out of ten, I am TOTALLY INCAPABLE of reinforcing a boundary that's being crossed by someone in a "friendly" or "normal" enough manner.

THIS. It's the polite, repeated insistence that's the hardest to refuse.

I find that the broken-record approach works best (No, thank you. *pause* Thank you, but no. *pause* No.) ... but I still have to prod myself into it, because some part of my mind is convinced that it's impolite. And of course, it's really not.
(no subject) - dynix - Jun. 12th, 2012 09:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dynix - Jun. 12th, 2012 09:12 am (UTC) - Expand
cereta
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC)
Yes. Goddammit, YES. I have struggled with this my whole LIFE, with my siblings, with friends, even with my spouse: if I tell you that I don't want to do X/I would like you to stop doing X to me (and given how hard it is for me to assert myself, for me to have reached that point means I'm really quite upset), then if you give a damn about me at ALL, or are just a decent human being, you should STOP. It's not funny, or fun, or cute, or endearing, or in my best interest for you to continue.

I just don't get why that's so fucking hard to understand. And yet, I have never been able to get my siblings to understand it, and I every time I think I've gotten my spouse to understand it, there's another incident where he's giving me shit, I finally get to the point of telling him I want him to stop, and he pushes, and then gets upset at me for getting pissed. I just...What is so damn hard about this?
starcat_jewel
Jun. 11th, 2012 07:08 pm (UTC)
Yikes. At risk of sounding pushy myself, that description sets off all sorts of alarms. I suspect that you and your spouse would both benefit from marital counseling, where this issue could be brought up in a context where he can't just brush it off.

IMO, a lot of the time it's "so hard to understand" because you're not a real person to the people who are doing it, you're an Assigned Role. And Assigned Roles don't get to change their assignments on demand.
(no subject) - idancewithlife - Jun. 13th, 2012 07:36 am (UTC) - Expand
issen4
Jun. 11th, 2012 04:04 pm (UTC)
Yes! I mean no! Heh. This is one of the things that bugged me when I went out with a friend recently. He wanted to send me home, I felt uncomfortable with it, and I said no. Then I had to repeat it a couple more times, and I said, "I'm serious, I'm not joking about this, I'm really not being polite. No." He still ignored me. Luckily we were taking the train, so I let him be (I walked out at my stop, leaving him behind in the crowd). But it pisses me off so much. Do I need to record my "No" and replay it a few dozen times so he'll get it?

I do come from a culture where it's considered polite (and politic) to fake-refuse the first couple of times, and it's really annoying to have to convince people I mean what I say. I find that usually, if I do not give reasons or explanations or excuses, it eventually sinks in. It really sinks in if I get all frustrated and go, "Look, I said no and no means no. Why do I have to repeat myself so many times? Did I give you the impression that if I say "no" many times, the law of statistics will cause me to say "yes"?", etc. And then they get offended about why I'm such a hardass. Gah. You can't win.
jimhines
Jun. 11th, 2012 07:39 pm (UTC)
There are definitely cultural aspects that I didn't get into, in part because I wasn't feeling smart enough to discuss them well. Quoting my comment from below, talking about Japan vs. U.S. expectations as one example, I don't feel like I'm in a position to say whether that kind of politeness and "false no" is harmful in Japan, because I don't know the broader cultural context well enough.

But I'm pretty comfortable making those statements about my own cultural context, if that makes sense?
(no subject) - issen4 - Jun. 12th, 2012 03:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cathshaffer - Jun. 12th, 2012 06:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
chamekke
Jun. 11th, 2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
I love absolutely everything about this post. Over the last couple of years I've learnt to say No more often (and to feel OK with that), but I still don't say it as often as I need to... so thank you for the timely reminder ♥

BTW I study Japanese tea ceremony, but I'm anglo-Canadian, so the ritual dance of 'No-may-actually-mean-Please-persuade-me' is familiar from that cultural context. If you're offered food in Japan, the proper response is to decline politely or 'hesitate' rather than accept right away (which in my case would normally be 'Ooh, thanks!'). This is known as enryo, appropriate humility. And then the other person encourages you to accept.

I think our sensei is becoming accustomed to her Canadian students' blunt manners, though, because I've noticed that now, when we say No to an offered treat, she accepts it and doesn't press any further ;-)

ETA: I'm giving this just to provide an example of a cultural tradition that has a whole ritual around refusal-then-capitulation; this is NOT meant as a criticism of that culture. I have enormous sympathy for my teacher, who has to translate continuously between the two, so to speak.

Edited at 2012-06-11 04:15 pm (UTC)
jimhines
Jun. 11th, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this comment!

There are definitely cultural aspects that I didn't get into, in part because I wasn't feeling smart enough to discuss them well. I don't feel like I'm in a position to say whether that kind of politeness and "false no" is harmful in Japan, because I don't know the broader cultural context well enough.

But I'm pretty comfortable making those statements about my own cultural context, if that makes sense?
(no subject) - chamekke - Jun. 12th, 2012 04:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - houseboatonstyx - Jun. 18th, 2012 02:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
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