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18 May 2004 @ 10:49 pm
A complete miscommunication?  
Recently, a friend (and I hope she won't be upset that I made this post) asked me about my habit of correcting people in casual conversation. She said "Why are you OK with doing that?"

The only response I had was "Why wouldn't I be OK with doing that?"

The concept of taking fact-based corrections (or clarifications) as personal attacks just seems so ... alien. I even have trouble understanding why some people think it is rude, although I guess I'll just have to remember that fact.

Lisa, my ex-fiance, used to say something similar, about how it hurt her feelings whenever I "proved her wrong". Based on these few data points, I see a few possible reasons for this difference of perceptions:

1. This is a "women vs. men" communication dichotomy. Easy answer, feels like a cop-out, but still vaguely possible, at least as a massive over-generalization.

2. Since Lisa leaned much more to the arts side of things, we could describe this as an arts-humanities vs. math-science difference. This is actually my first inclination, but I'm aware that I may be biased by my inherent elitism.

3. Some people are embarrassed by being proven wrong. Other people find it more embarrassing to continue in a mistaken belief when somebody could have corrected you. I lean strongly in the second category, and tend to forget about the sensitivities of people in the first.

4. I admit to the possibility that I might be a flaming asshole with a rude conversational habit.

5. Conversely, the people who complain about this could have Other Issues.

6. Something else I haven't thought of.

7. A combination two or more of the above.
Heiress of the Empiretechnocracygirl on May 18th, 2004 11:33 pm (UTC)
It's a fan thing. Ask me more about this later.
Mr. Flibble: Spongemonkey!crispengray on May 19th, 2004 12:45 pm (UTC)

I tend to agree. I've found the "correction-comment" to be accepted and encouraged in the fannish subculture, but in society as a whole, it can be considered very rude... you have to be careful about how you do it.

Heck, in fan culture, it's often considered perfectly acceptable to briefly interrupt someone to correct pronounciation, ie:
"So that's when Magna-toe threw.."
"Right. Thanks. When Magneto threw the bus..."
Jimwarpdragon on May 18th, 2004 11:44 pm (UTC)
It strikes me as at best dichotomous and at worst hypocritical to be ready to correct someone on some topics and yet so annoyed when corrected on others. Certainly a physics nazi can put up with the grammar police, no?
St. Sean the Amused: eeyoreseanb on May 19th, 2004 01:16 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand you
Are you saying that you think I'm annoyed about being corrected about something?
Jim: Soundwavewarpdragon on May 19th, 2004 02:09 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm not sure I understand you
Yes. You reserve it for language issues, and you verbalize annoyance toward the language rather than the corrector, but the annoyance is palpable.
St. Sean the Amused: eeyoreseanb on May 19th, 2004 02:19 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm not sure I understand you

Fair enough. I can make all sorts of rationalizations about how "that's different", but that would be silly. I'll try to keep that in mind next time somebody goes "grammar nazi" in my presence.
Stupendous Manfarmalloc on May 19th, 2004 12:03 am (UTC)
I would say it also matters on the fourm. If you correct someone publicly it can appear more embarrassing then when done in private. Exceptions are if you are having an open debate about a topic and everyone is involved. I believe it becomes the biggest problem when you "steal the thunder" as in if someone is telling a story to a group and they feel as though they have the groups attention and in the middle or shortly after they are told they are wrong.
I don't know just something the I have seen bother people. But yes you are right it is different for each person. That said I rarly noticed you doing that in our dialogs and I didn't find it insulting. In fact I think it is a great trait you have.
Others might just have to come to terms that you are a prick ;)
GryMorgrymor on May 19th, 2004 08:59 am (UTC)
But thats when it's most important to get facts right. When there is an audiance that has just been presented with an erroneouse fact, it is imperative to stop the spread of the disease of wrongness at that point, and hopefully cure it in the original transmitter.

I say this as someone who is perhaps to easily infected with this sort of disease and has had the pleasure of having several infections quashed by Sean and Phil.
Stupendous Manfarmalloc on May 19th, 2004 10:02 am (UTC)
Right I agree...however that is where the judgement call comes it. If the person is easily offened by being corrected perhaps it would be best to take them aside later and tell them they were wrong. They can then go tell the others that they were wrong and not loose face. Many time when people tell stories it is the destination that is important not the journey and little facts are really of not consiquence to the overall meaning. Thus it can get quite anonying if you are just trying to get the punchline and are constantly inturupted with corrections that are meaningless. But yes if someone is spoting off something as if it were fact making a wrong conculsions and assuming that it is the only correct answer then yeah best to nip it in the butt.

Actually I have been thinking about this matter a bit since this post. I realize that I am movie quote nazi. Someone will be telling some funny quote from a movie, get it wrong, and I find myself propelled to say it again correctly right there...when I was a kid I was quite anonying with this tendencay, many times spouting off the whole setup and conculsion. I have since taken the stance that it is not that important to get it exact as long as the entent is there. However I still do it occasionally.
Her Holiness the Rev. Holly Z, KSCsharkcowsheep on May 19th, 2004 12:29 am (UTC)
Don't you go blaming this on the arts-humanities, now. :)
St. Sean the Amused: Eye of Akuseanb on May 19th, 2004 01:19 pm (UTC)
Right. In your experience, do you see any obvious groupings for people likely to get touchy about fact-based corrections, disagreements, and clarifications?
Auto-defenestration has never been this funm00t on May 19th, 2004 05:22 am (UTC)
I just think that people assume they are correct and don't believe in the possibility that they could be wrong. So when someone corrects them they automatically deny the possibility the other person is correct.

A lot of people treat fact as opinion and vice versa. When you (global you, not seanyou) correct them on either of the above they feel it as a personal attack (either because they're treating it like an opinion or because it is an opinion so they subconciously take it as an attack on their beliefs).

Basicially it comes down to them being too prideful to admit they have made a mistake. Most of the embarassment comes from having an ego too large to maintain adequately. Someone makes an external adjustment to their ego and they can't adapt to take it in, so they try to reject the adjustment which draws attention to the issue (last thing anyone really wants) instead of deflating or deflecting any negativity by accepting the correcetion with humility or analyzing the correction and counter-pointing with flaws in the new information (if there are any).

I think that's called "Argumentative asshole". But I'm not sure.
Zzyzxthezzyzx on May 19th, 2004 05:58 am (UTC)
As someone who is:

(1) a jew

(2) an ex-mathematician


(3) a Bard graduate

I completely think that arguing is a fun sport and it drives me crazy when people make some point and get mad at me for playing devil's advocate. It might be a tone thing where you (or me) come across as mocking the other person's intelligence.
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on May 19th, 2004 01:21 pm (UTC)
Possibly. I have been accused of sounding condescending in the past.

Just part of the elitism that comes with being a genius :-)
Jimwarpdragon on May 19th, 2004 02:12 pm (UTC)
I've noticed that I tend to think of arguing as a fun sport only when it doesn't really matter, when no real consequences ride on the outcome. Do either of you agree?
Wolflady: puppypuppygrrl on May 19th, 2004 07:53 am (UTC)
I think a lot depends on what the conversation is about (ie how passionate the speaker being corrected is about the topic) and how the correction is done. Personally, if I'm in a discussion and I mispronounce something or get a fact wrong, I'm perfectly willing to accept (and usually welcome) a correction, provided it is made so that it comes across as a "by the way, that is pronounced ***" or "you may want to doublecheck that, I think you may be incorrect". I also agree that it may have a great deal to do with how people communicate (men/women/sci-fi nuts/people who believe octopus nest in trees). Just my two cents.
Lady Doom: Grrrrrlithera on May 19th, 2004 08:10 am (UTC)
I think it is a combination of forum and how the correction is done. If someone corrects me in a factual way, "That isn't right because it is sourced here...." (or something like that) it is okay. If someone corrects me with, "I remember it being different..." that's fine to.

There are ways it is done that feel high handed and I've noticed it done and received by men and women alike, arts and sciences alike. I know it really makes me made when someone corrects me in a way which is disrespectful of what I /do/ know. Anyone who trods on my intelligence will make me very, very upset.

Don't know if that helps at all...
TW Bruhn: Otyughapestyle on May 19th, 2004 08:12 am (UTC)
I'm just sayin'
For the record, if I utter something incorrect/dumb/plainly wrong I would hope that you would correct me so that I don't come off as an oaf to other people as well.
C.glamazonwarrior on May 19th, 2004 12:39 pm (UTC)
I get that, too. Mostly from males complaining that I'm a know it all because I happen to read about things that interest me rather than just making shit up.

So, not a male-female thing.

I studied arts and humanities, so it's not that either.

I think number 3 is about right. I like to get new information. I prefer to be corrected than to continue in ignorance. Others just "don't want to be wrong." (then read, dammit!)
Jim: Soundwavewarpdragon on May 19th, 2004 02:17 pm (UTC)
I think, tangential to number 3, there is the idea that some people have that the truth doeesn't really matter. They're making a joke, or telling a story, or making a ranting point, and they've got it all in order in their mind, and they don't see why they should be bothered to care that (for instance) This American Life is not actually an NPR show or that Al Gore never really claimed to have invented the Internet.
Turning the Schmaltz up to 11: deny and disagreepullthestars on May 19th, 2004 07:01 pm (UTC)
The reasoning behind bringing it up is this: Why does it matter in the first place? To me, there are times and situations where being corrected is exactly the thing that needs to be done. And there are times when it ought to be let go. For example, if I say something like, "2 plus 2 equals 5," I would prefer it for someone to correct me.

To me, you correcting me by saying, "1997 to 2004 is seven years" was unnecessary. I *know* it's seven years. I didn't say, "I started gaming with this group the year I was married, 1997, which was five years ago."

I don't even know if this makes sense. Feel free to ask me more about it if you like; I will try my best to make my stance clear.
eggiebert on May 19th, 2004 11:37 pm (UTC)
This idea sparked my interst.
This was the brainchild I spawned after reading your post above. Even if you never read it, I am still thankfull that you're idea sparked my interest enough to write about it.
Fireball of 3fireballof3 on May 20th, 2004 09:20 am (UTC)
Having done this to Leigh, I know that it annoys her.
Having done this to guys, their response is "yeah whatever, fine."

It coudl be frequency of correction (usually brought about by frequency of conversation), or it could be a gender difference.

I'm sure there's some psychological principal at work here about corrective behaviour, how it's delivered and how it's precieved in women vs. men, but I never really dug into research on that topic.
Musings with no Musejenny_sparks on June 3rd, 2004 02:47 pm (UTC)
I think it mainly has to do with perceived intent... often times when anyone corrects someone it comes off poorly, even if there is nothing negative meant by it.

I think that because of the friction it can cause, to facilitate interpersonal relationships it should be done as rarely as possible and only when there is something to be gained or something that will be lost due to the incorrect information. Otherwise people tend to think that you are condescending.... and goes for anyone who corrects others (including myself)