Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliche,
I read your blog regarding the “chivalrous man,” and the comments that were left. I wanted to write because I ran this scenario by two women, who both thought the guy was an idiot. Most of us all have had this experience before where some guy jumps in to offer help where it isn’t needed or wanted. I also ran it by two men who both thought the woman was ungrateful and had personal issues. Hmmmmm. What further questions does this prompt?
Additional input came later from another female- she thought it was sweet of the man and believed he meant only the best. Interestingly, this particular woman has allowed men to dominate and abuse her throughout life and will always take blame on herself first. The women who thought the guy was an idiot were much more assertive.
Is this a male/female thing? It seems that we all interpret situations differently, depending on what we expect to see. It makes me wonder:
what really happened here? And is every exchange like this between people so open to interpretation?
That’s the thing about advice. If we are not actually present to witness the real situation and know only the part of the picture that is presented, we are at least partly projecting. Sometimes advice is more relevant to the giver than the receiver. The receiver needs to see what part of the advice, if any, applies to their own situation.
The Chivalrous Man scenario is an example. There wasn’t enough data to know the big picture; just a suggestion of it. Men and woman read differently into it based on their own personal experiences with the opposite sex. We are the sum total of our experiences and how we relate to a story tells us a lot about our personality. It is like a Rorschach test.
Is every exchange like this between people so open to interpretation? YES! There is an amazing book by Deborah Tannen about this phenomena, That’s Not What I Meant.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: we all see what we expect to see and people can generally find evidence and proof for whatever theory they wish to maintain. Ask any good lawyer.
But in the end, it is always between the actual people involved to decide upon what the truth is, barring any necessity for legal intervention.
Advice can be more, or less, biased and skewed by personal expectations. That’s why advice columns exist- we at least have the advantage of not being personally involved! A great philosopher once said that most personal problems could be solved quite easily if we were capable of viewing them as if they happened to another person, in another civilization, five thousand years ago.