February 20, 2008

What You Say You Said

Trip to St Louis was incredibly great. Rightly timed time-away from home and downright relaxing time with Sarahlynn, Paul and the girls. Abby did not learn to crawl, but did pick up clapping! I even got to go to a Blues (pro hockey) game! Really, though, the best part was spending quality time with the family.

I planned to write two posts in the last few days, one about the trip and one to celebrate my two year blogoversary, which was Valentines Day. I have decided not to delve into either far enough for a full post. Instead I am looking to see if I'm the only one dealing with craziness.

I got an email from one of my supervisors: "Rob, I need your help writing this check request."

Let's break that down:
Rob - that's me
I need your help - we need to work together to get this done
writing this check request - with this mundane task

It seems that what she meant was: "Rob. Write a check request for this."

When I was ready to leave for the day, I asked what kind of help she needed for the (again, mundane) check request. An account number to charge it to? An address? A pen? She told me that I was to have written it on my own, and we had conversation about our roles in this relationship. She is the boss, I am the worker bee. Boss says "do this" and should expect it done. I think we're on the same page now.

At home the situation is similar, but different: "Rob, would you vacuum this weekend?"

Again, a breakdown:

Rob - That's me! People know my name!
would you - Please do this
vacuum - Get out the stupid machine, and do the deed
this weekend - 72 hours that begins roughly Friday at 5 pm and ends Sunday at bedtime
? - Implied option - yes or no.

What Anny means is: "Rob, vacuum this morning please."

Anny says that she does not want to be a nag. I keep telling her that she is not nagging, she is being direct. There is a difference to me.

Do you deal with issues like this? Am I not being perceptive enough, or should people be direct in what they are asking for?


  1. To me, vacuum this weekend means it needs to be done now but I acknowledge that you're a busy person and that your next possible convenience will likely be this weekend. Of course, if I catch you watching Stargate on SciFi and the vacuuming's not done... look out!

  2. I think it's a politeness thing that has backfired. Woman in particular are told not to nag and to not boss their men around. This carries into marriage and work. If we say "please do this now." it sounds pushy and "mom-like" and many men get irritated. But if we say " please help with" or "if you have time", etc., we aren't being direct enough - and men miss the point. We can't win! :)

  3. We had such a good time! Thank you so much for coming! Come back anytime!

    Moving along to the less-fun stuff. I have been that boss, gotten similarly frustrated, and freely acknowledge that it was All My Fault. Your boss did not do a good job of communicating her wants/needs/expectations to you. You, on the other hand, did a very good and professional job following up. Rob wins!

    Uh, I'm wisely choosing not to comment on the home situation. Sarahlynn wins!

    (Or, what Stephanie and Chere' said. In my case, I'm usually freaking out about my BABIES being on that FILTHY FLOOR and I probably waited to ask Paul to vacuum until I felt like it was an EMERGENCY.)

    To answer your question, of course people should be more direct about they want/need/expect. Paul and I have spent a lot of electronics dollars - new TV, anyone? - on therapy figuring this out. And we are still very much a work in progress.

  4. Well, since only your women-friends have posted comments so far, I think it's time for your brother-in-law to chime in...

    Thanks for coming to the hockey game. And by that I mean, thank you for saying that you thought it'd be fun to go to a hockey game and thank you to my wife for encouraging us to go.

    I've been having similar frustration at work with my boss (not a woman) lately, too. I say something like "I think that we should invite more people to meeting A because they'll be the ones with all the information to contribute." He says "I agree. We'll gather information from them before hand, have the meeting, and then report back what we decided." I say "I really think it'd work better if we had one meeting with everyone, so that people can contribute information directly to the decision making, and here the results in real-time." He says "I agree. We'll do three meetings...." Arg!!!!

    On the marriage front - Sarahlynn's absolutely right. We have spent a very nice TV's worth on therapy about this sort of topic. Speaking of TVs -- our new one came. It was damaged. We're taking it back.

    It doesn't REALLY apply, but it did occur to me that if my wife said "can you do something this weekend" and got upset with me before Monday morning, it would be pretty ironic coming from the woman who drove to her professors' houses to slip term papers under the door at midnight on the due date.

  5. Wait, so that's NOT when you're supposed to turn them in??