Pet Peeve #71: Realizing You Do Your Own Pet Peeve

I recently had my weekly phone call with my parents, and we talked a little about my girlfriend. I could feel myself cringing a bit through the conversation, eager to change the topic. It wasn’t anything about Megan; rather, this is how I’ve always been with my parents and romantic relationships.

Afterwards, I thought about why that is, and I think I know at least part of the answer: When my parents ask questions about a significant other, they’re not really questions. They’re more like statements that I can either confirm or correct.

For example, instead of asking, “How did you two meet?”, they might say, “Did you meet through your gaming group?”

That’s a pretty mild example; in other cases, they ask a question and immediately answer it, then I give them the actual answer.

Anyway, I really don’t like this form of conversation. I’m happy to answer questions, but I don’t like feeling like I’m constant fixing incorrect assumptions.

So this was going to be my pet peeve. But then I realized….you guessed it….that I do this exact same thing. Which makes it an exponentially higher pet peeve.

My version of it is that I’ll ask a question and offer options for the answer before trailing off. For example, “Are there any elements of climbing etiquette I should know about? Like, coaching when someone’s on the wall, complimenting strangers, etc…?”

In my head I’m explaining the question by providing examples (and maybe stalling to give them time to think of an answer). But in reality, the question is usually clear, and if it isn’t, the other person will always ask for a clarification. Also, if they’re stumbling over the answer, that would be a better time to provide examples.

So yeah, I do the exact same thing all the time that bugs me about how my parents talk about relationships. It’s a boomerang of a pet peeve. I almost wonder how many more of my pet peeves are things that bother me because I do them too!

Have you ever realized that you embody your own pet peeve?

See my full list of pet peeves and pet pleases here.

5 thoughts on “Pet Peeve #71: Realizing You Do Your Own Pet Peeve”

  1. Is your example in the context of a voice conversation or an email exchange? I can see it being more acceptable, maybe even helpful in an asynchronous communication when that next reply would take more time.

    • It’s always over the phone with the parents (though I may do mine over e-mail sometimes).

  2. I am totally guilty of this as well (offering examples). While I am trying to cut back and make space for others to speak, I do think there’s a difference between asking yes or no questions that position for corrections and offering examples. Offering examples doesn’t nearly as often put someone in a defensive, corrective position (in my experience) and are sometimes helpful. I think maybe the root of your pet peeve is the assumption and then need for correction? Either way, I’m also trying to measure when I offer multiple examples 🙂

  3. I often complain about my dad’s lack of tact to the point of being hurtful, and his constant interruption for more details in the middle of me speaking (if he would just wait a second, he would get the answer). However, when I complain about this to my spouse, he says, “But you do that to me”. It’s true. However, the good part is that I see that it is not considerate or constructive, and I try to change it when I notice I am doing it.

    I think in your example, there is a difference between personal relationships and just communicating in a learning situation or with an acquaintance. If we are actually trying to make an emotional connection with someone close to us, then we should give them space to tell their story. If we are just trying to get information, then giving some examples might help the person get an idea of what we already know and what is important to us.

  4. Relative to communication, I just want to recommend the podcast: Clear + Vivid. It is hosted by the actor Alan Alda, who has long been working on improving scientists communication of their research to the public. The podcast covers all forms of communication, though. The conversations are exceptional. Jamey, maybe you can get your parents to listen to it, especially if they were ever fans of Alan Alda.

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