Am I unreasonable?

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2006
Am I unreasonable?
Sat, 08-18-2012 - 3:51am
So this kind of scenario happens often where I live. I will be out somewhere in public and some random stranger, nearly always male, will say hello or otherwise attempt to engage me in conversation. I will respond minimally, if at all, and nine times out of ten the person who spoke to me berates me for being rude.

I think they are the one who was being rude by trying to engage me in conversation when it was completely uninvited and unprovoked. I think it's rude to do so with the expectation of full reciprocation. I think if you are going to randomly try to chat up strangers you should be able to accept that they may not always WANT to talk to you, and may not appreciate feeling forced to. I am not an outgoing person. I especially do not feel comfortable around men having been a victim of rape and sexual assault several times. It takes a lot for me to trust people, and being addressed by a stranger feels like an invasion of my personal space and is frankly kind of scary. I once had a guy follow me off a bus and for several blocks, yelling at me for not responding to him. (I had headphones on, but I didn't want to talk to him anyway.)

One might say, well how hard is it to just say hi back? Well, sometimes when you do they take it as an invitation to engage you further, and I have no desire to encourage that. To turn it around, how hard is it to leave someone alone if they obviously don't want to talk to you? It really makes me not want to ever leave the house.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Sun, 09-09-2012 - 10:27pm
Okay, I have read some, but not all of the posts. Here is what I would do when someone on the bus, street or line in store tries to strike up a conversation.

"Hi." (confused.) "Do I know you? I have a hard time recognizing faces, especially when I am focused on work stuff like I am right now."

Person "No, you don't know me." (If they say yes, then ask where you know them from.)

You, "Oh, please excuse me, I have a big project going on at work right now, I really need to focus on that - yes, even though I am shopping/riding the bus, my best ideas come at times like this." Small smile, put back on head phones.

If someone follows you to tell you you are a bitch or such, get out your phone, tell them that you are calling 911. If you feel safe, ask them if they would like it if some stranger did that to their mother/sister. Call 911 unless they leave. They are crossing a big line, and they need to know it. You don't have file charges, just either call and act like you are on the phone with 911, or get on the phone with them. Either way, the person will likely leave. I have used the acting like I am on the phone with the police several times, it does wonders for changing attitudes of people who won't leave.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Sat, 09-01-2012 - 7:46am

I, OTOH, poo-poo the "rules of etiquette" because they do not seem to consistently value "being considerate of others." I believe whole-heartedly in the virtue of being kind. But one can not adhere strictly to the "rules of etiquette" and expect that one's behavior will always be kind. Kindness and human interaction are far too complex for a set of explicit rules, IMO.

Yes, but then again, we are right back to previous conversations, you engaged in as well, concerning the limitations of this communication in written format.

If you see this as an issue of being kind and considerate, I suppose I can see the value in your statements. My comments were mostly directed at the ability of one, on a internet board, to determine, not only intent and emotions of the one writing the post, but also ones ability to diagnose or a suggest a diagnosis to a complete stranger, as well as doing so in the format.

The other complaint, both you and I shared, was the repetitious nature of such posts. Clearly, aside from etiquette, it reaches a point of harassment. Which, again, is against TOS. Personal comments are also against TOS ... which I believe you posted.

Consideration of others is argumentatively a valuable skill. In many ways, it's the basis of tolerance, patience and heaven forbid, resiliency. The ability to put one in someone else's shoes is a valuable and important social skill.

Oh, and just to be clear, one can think whatever they wish. To put it simply, two wrongs don't make a right. If one thinks the other is rude for not responding, but respond rudely themselves ... they are also now being rude. In the scenario the OP offers, I cannot see where that is beneficial to anyone. And, in all honesty, if I say hi to a stranger and they don't respond ... I don't give it much thought. Do you? I don't think they are being unkind or inconsiderate. OTOH, is I should happen to think someone is being rude, I often wonder why? What is going with this person? I might think they didn't hear me. I might even think they are rude or a bi*ch. I certainly wouldn't make their day any worse by verbally attacking them.

..... edited to add ..... in general, I do agree kindness and human interaction is too complex for an explicit set of rules. But, I do think this has been covered throughout the thread. At least, as I understood, many of comments on the variants according to where one lives and so forth. But, again, this is partially why I don't think it's necessary to comment on when a stranger doesn't respond to you or to comment on someone's mental health because they don't want to respond to a stranger.

lol ... otoh, to rule out kindness, consideration of others and social norms is also inappropriate. As I see Jmas mentioning schools ... these skills are often the foundation of social programs through the schools.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Sat, 09-01-2012 - 7:22am

In parenting, we often use words to describe behavior. However, if a any member of the school staff told any child they were rude and needed professional help .... depending on the setting and context, that would be insulting.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Fri, 08-31-2012 - 9:35am

Yes, some posters, such as yourself, have been talking about consideration for others throughout the thread. But personally, I have gotten a sense that for some posters "following the rules of etiquette" and "being considerate of others" are one in the same

I, OTOH, poo-poo the "rules of etiquette" because they do not seem to consistently value "being considerate of others." I believe whole-heartedly in the virtue of being kind. But one can not adhere strictly to the "rules of etiquette" and expect that one's behavior will always be kind. Kindness and human interaction are far too complex for a set of explict rules, IMO. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Fri, 08-31-2012 - 9:18am

Sorry, I am still not being clear. It WAS about a behavior, raspberrying, But the problem, raspberrying was not identified. It was assumed to be evident to the child by the psychologist.

IMO, a better approach than "That is rude", would be to say, "It seems that you feel frustrated," and then to have suggested a school appropriate way for a kindergartener to express frustration. IMO, since it is a child with Asperger's, a suggestion involving a verbal response, "I am frustrated", would be less than ideal. A frustrated, young child with Asperger's is unlikely to have the where-with-all to consistently pull together a verbal response. OTOH, a kindergartener starting school IS likely to experience a lot of frustrations.

Also, an explanation of why it is important not to raspberrying at school. (potential spray) Also, an explanation of what "rude" means, with an emphasis on "behavior" not "character" (exactly what you are saying in this thread).

IMO, the psychologist should have expressed a little personal responsibility. Since the child was interacting one on one at the time, she probably should have policed her own responses, expressed emotions, and facial expressions and helped the child identify what was found to be frustrating. Modeling good behavior would have been helpful, instead of harping on the child, KWIM?

In this instance, "that was rude" was at best useless, but probably harmful. The child was left with a vague sense that getting upset at school is not OK and that the psychologist didn't like him.

*edited to fix several typos. Goodness, I've been making a lot of out of the ordinary typos lately. It's frustrating. **raspberry** :smileyhappy:


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 7:45pm

Yea, That sounds right - Calling THAT rude is more appropriate than telling a child YOU are rude

I can assure you that the parent was shocked and offended. In this instance "that is rude" and "you are rude" were one in the same. As is often the case, IMO. The psychologist said "that is rude" with sufficient contempt that the kindergartener was uncomfortable and anxious, but had little idea about what the problem was.

Its important to point out the behavior than call the child it.

The point is: that did not happen. No behavior was identified or pointed out to the child, just a comment, "that is rude".

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 5:08pm

But about school, No staff should tell you that your child is being rude without specifics

That's true. I know of an incident in which a PhD School Psychologist said to a five-year-old with Asperger's, "That's rude", with no further explanation.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 7:29am

Well, that is a new definition to me. People seem really hung up on semantics.

It simply doesn't matter. As so many have pointed out, what is considered "customary" can vary by where we live as well as, how we feel personally.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 7:21am

I've already conceded to Nis that the discussion went too far and was reminiscent of my experiences on the BF board. It was good of her to point it out and I responded to her. Are you wanting me to concede again?

LOL ... Seriously? This is funny considering we are having a discussion on what behavior is considered rude.

If you already conceded to Nis on the subject, then it's unclear why you would be quoting a post to me, that was written by NIS. If you already conceded the point ... why were addressing me about it. :smileyvery-happy:

It was good of her to point what out?

Oh boy, dear, again, if you conceded the point, then I think you need to ask yourself why you were still bringing that point up to me?


btw, if you want to hold conversations simultaneously, please be prepared to receive answers the same way.

Also ..... it was the one who agreed with you about the BF-ing board.

But, please, check out who you responded to .... it was me ... not her ... lol


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Thu, 08-30-2012 - 7:12am

The lesson from this is that we should each be as considerate as we can of others within our own safety and comfort zone

Well, really, hasnt that been the point all along? lol