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Insensitive.. or perhaps clueless people

Started by Lillycache, July 19, 2012, 06:22:41 am

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There is this woman, who volunteers here every Wednesday morning.  She is retired but only a few years older than I am.  I have known her for at least 4 years as she sits right in front of my desk when she is here.  Over that course of time we have talked and shared stories.  She is well aware of my situation with my GKs and my DIL and DS.  She knows how bad I have felt about this for the last 2 years.  Lately, she just can't seem to control herself.  She has two married daughters and 5 GKs.  She is very much involved with her daughters and their children.   She is always coming up with lovely stories and how much she gets to see her GKs and how cute they are, and how much they love her and she loves them.  It's been getting really mushy and gushy.   The last time she started in on her rendition, I told her I had a meeting and packed up my things and moved to a different unit.

Well yesterday, she started again... only this time she prefaced it with "I really shouldn't be telling you this but......"  And went into her song and dance about how she baby sat her grandson all last week and when he went home  he called her to say "I miss you nana, when can I stay with you again".....   So I sat there with my mouth open thinking... She OBVIOUSLY knows this is a painful subject for me.... WHY... does she insist on telling me this stuff?   Is she clueless?   OR is she delighting in "rubbing it in"   Is she getting some sort of perverse pleasure in feeling she is a bit better than I am?   I am perplexed as to why someone would KNOW they shouldn't be saying this, but plunge on anyway.   So what should I do?  Avoid her and just not sit at my desk on Wednesday mornings?  Tell he to put a sock in it?  What?  I know I should be thicker skinned..... but I'm not.  With all the other things to talk about... and she is well read and well traveled and has lots of other interests, WHY is this a fixation of hers, especially around me?   I'm sure she has other friends that are privileged GMs to compare brags with.   OK... /vent  lol!!


I think I would tend to look at her as socially inept rather than a powerful person who is intent on something.  Maybe she would drone on about her family no matter who was sitting behind her.  Who knows, maybe this is a social outlet for her and her only chance to tell people?

Does she have a supervisor?  If you talked to the volunteer coordinator about how distracting the constant talk about her family is - like she's talking about her family rather than doing the job she's there for - maybe that could fix it?  I mean she could be talking about her dogs all this time and she's still distracting you from working.

Otherwise, maybe working elsewhere on Wednesdays is a good idea, but tell your boss that there is a volunteer who could use more training.



I'm not going to turn her in for talking.  Truth is we are all guilty of chit chat, and I used to look forward to her coming on Wednesday mornings.  That is until she started this stuff.  Now.. not so much.  I am able to move anywhere or sit anywhere I please in the building as everything I do is computerized and I roll my office around in a travel bag.  Everything I need is pulled along behind me.  I think what bothers me is that she obviously knows this hurts me... by saying "I shouldn't say this to you"  and then proceeding on with her rapturous disertation. That tells me it was "on purpose"  and meant to make me feel envious or hurt.  I'm simply not at that place where I can be tickled pink for someone who is in her position.  And yes  I am envious. I'm also flabberghasted someone would feel this was OK to do.    I think I will just avoid her for a while.


Lily, do you get the feeling that this is a "nanny-nanny-boo-boo, I have something you don't have" type of thing?

If you think that it's more of an "I'm so happy for ME" type of thing, you could tell her that you are sensitive to this subject, but that you enjoy talking to her about other things and could we limit the GP conversations.  I don't think that would be mean.  And it also shows that you're assuming the BEST of her, that she is NOT intentionally hurting you.  If she's a nice person, she'll cut back when she's around you.

lancaster lady

Perhaps you could start the conversation about something entirely different , rather than waiting for her . Then if she begins
about her GC again , just interrupt and say , As I was saying , and go on about your other subject .
If not , I would tell her you find it distressing , and could you talk about something else . Why suffer .
I would be horrified to think I was distressing someone else by my conversation .


I don't really think she is a nanny nanny boo boo type of person.   However, she obviously knows it distresses me by saying "I shouldn't really be saying this to you"    I have told her in past conversations that this was a really hurtfull topic for me.   I think she is basically socially inept.  She knows it hurts me, but this is so wonderful for her that she believes I will rise above my own pain and be thrilled for her and how much she loves her GKs... and how much they love her and want to be with her.    Afterall... this is wonderful and I should be able to appreciate the wonder of it all, and not wallow in my own disasterous situation.   Are there really people like that?  That are so clueless?  Makes me like the sock idea...


I vote sock.... :)

Yes, some people really are that clueless. It probably doesn't come from a malicious place, but it hurts nonetheless. If she's that dense to keep talking about it despite knowing it's a sensitive subject, she may need you to be very very blunt about it. And change the subject whenever it comes up. I wouldn't worry about hurting her feelings since she doesn't worry about yours.

I really believe you truly never know what goes on behind the scenes in other people's lives, and maybe it isn't all mushy gushy like she says it is. I know lots of people who talk up their personal lives only to find out later it's not quite the truth.


If normally, when she's not talking about the GK's you and her get along pretty well, I think I would try to have an honest conversation about it with her.  Also, how is she on other subjects?  When she talks about travel, is she doing the nanny-nanny-boo-boo thing?  Do you get a sense that any of her other conversations have that same intent?  If the answer is no, then it's probably just the topic of GK's and AC is just so close to home for you that you get hurt by it.  I have trouble when someone is talking about their GC as well.  It's not their fault, it's just a hard subject for me.

If the answer is no, could you talk to her about it and let her know that you really can't handle hearing the GC stories and they hurt you badly?  If the answer is yes, then I'd go with the sock....
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


The time before last... when I had to leave the unit... I DID try telling her that her GC talk was hurtful to me.... and ya know what she did?  She waved me off with her hand and made a face... like "Oh how silly of you" Or" Pfffft... don't be like that!"  I felt she was being very dismissive.   That's when I got up and left.  This last time I didn't bother...  I somehow don't think she is being malicious.  She is fine with other topics.  But then again it doesn't bother me in the least where she goes on vacation or for how long.  He talking about her money doesn't phase me either.  It's just the GC thing.    Some folks cannot empathize very well.  If they haven't experienced something first hand, they can't imagine what it feels like.  I think she is one of those clueless people.


She is just telling you about her world. Some people haven't evolved to the degree that they know there is anything else. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Wow, I'm not sure what to think, Lilly.  To me, if you told someone that x bothers you and then they go and do it again, especially with a qualifier ("I know I shouldn't be telling you this....") -- then I would tend to assume that it is being done on purpose. 

People are really strange sometimes.  It may not be done maliciously, but it does sound like it is being done purposefully. 
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


Ok, can this be a 'clueless person' thread?  Don't want to hi-jack yours, Lil, before you've gotten it all out, but it made me think about some other examples of an unraveling society.

2x recently I've been in a store where there are lines of waiting customers with money in their hands and the sales people interrupt what they are doing to answer the phone!

Today at Office Max, the lady left my transaction in the middle to go off and answer the phone like she had no choice. I moved in front of her to block her and calmly said, "No, you aren't going to answer the phone, you're going to finish this transaction which has been frustrating from the beginning.  The phone can wait - you have lots of waiting customers here."  She moved back into position and acting like I hadn't said anything.  And no one applauded!  But I did feel that I stopped a little bit of the unraveling of human relations that I see all around me at times.

Maybe you could just put your hand up next time, block the photos and say, "Enough" and that might wake her up. 


I'm so sorry, Lilly. How hurtful on many levels. I hope you can figure out how to avoid her. It doesn't sound as if she's searching for enlightenment anytime soon.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Lilly - sounds painful, and raw and getting rubbed in.  You tried with honesty, leaving the area and broken record.  It is not about how she is feeling and why she is saying what she is saying at this point.  So I vote for grace in the line of fire if it happens again by 1) first interrupting her family story with *I gotta stop you here.  I am not the best person to hear this.  and 2) *Let's talk about something else now.  How about that America's Got Talent show - who's your favorite to win? Mine is so-and-so* or anything you can think of in order to change the subject immediately.  3)  Then, if that doesn't stop the verbage and change the subject, 4)  then I vote for the *talk to the hand.*  each and every time she opens with her mouth and family story starts. 

Doe - heck, that is such a familiar scenario someone choosing the phone over face-to-face contact ---I loved how you handled it!!