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Email I got - a real compliment or kind of condescending?

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CJ2008

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Did you ever get an email or a comment from someone that totally APPEARS to be complimentary but ends up making you feel like it was kind of condescending?

I got an email from someone who saw some marketing work I did recently - she raved about how it looked and said how she was impressed with how talented I had become, and that she hopes that I take the comment in the spirit in which she''s offering it. Then she goes on a little more about how great it is to see me mature into this talent, and that it''s inspiring, etc.

For some reason it left me feeling talked down to, even though all of the words are very nice and complimenary. I think what sticks out to me is the part that "I hope you take the comment in the spirit..."

Maybe she suspected that I might end up feeling talked down to and wanted to make sure I didn''t feel that way?

Thoughts/comments? Am I crazy not to question this and not think they''re all great compliments?
 

Gypsy

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Nope. That''s talking down. One of my co-workers (peer, not superior) used to do that. Drove me nuts. I just did it right back to her. She stopped. It''s a power thing.
 

HollyS

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Date: 4/6/2009 6:36:44 PM
Author: Gypsy
Nope. That''s talking down. One of my co-workers (peer, not superior) used to do that. Drove me nuts. I just did it right back to her. She stopped. It''s a power thing.
Spot on.
 

CJ2008

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OK - can you guys tell me what YOU see is the talking down part? Help me pinpoint it?

And how you would handle it? I have NO idea how to respond - but would like her to "know" that I know.

ETA: I was thinking of saying something like "here I was thinking you thought I was talented from the beginning. ;-)
 

neatfreak

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It does imply that you weren''t talented **before**. That''s where I see it as condescending.
 

HollyS

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Date: 4/6/2009 6:49:16 PM
Author: CJ2008
OK - can you guys tell me what YOU see is the talking down part? Help me pinpoint it?

And how you would handle it? I have NO idea how to respond - but would like her to 'know' that I know.

ETA: I was thinking of saying something like 'here I was thinking you thought I was talented from the beginning. ;-)
"You've matured." "You're much improved." "I'm so glad to see your progress." "Now, I see your talent." "How far you've come." Blah, blah, blah.


Of course, I'm paraphrasing, 'cause you didn't give us direct quotes. But, yes. She was being condescending. On purpose. And just in case you totally missed her diss -- she gave you a disclaimer: "I hope you take the comment in the spirit . . ."

She was hoping you didn't miss her point. What a bud.
 

CJ2008

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Date: 4/6/2009 7:05:04 PM
Author: HollyS

Date: 4/6/2009 6:49:16 PM
Author: CJ2008
OK - can you guys tell me what YOU see is the talking down part? Help me pinpoint it?

And how you would handle it? I have NO idea how to respond - but would like her to ''know'' that I know.

ETA: I was thinking of saying something like ''here I was thinking you thought I was talented from the beginning. ;-)
''You''ve matured.'' ''You''re much improved.'' ''I''m so glad to see your progress.'' ''Now, I see your talent.'' ''How far you''ve come.'' Blah, blah, blah.


Of course, I''m paraphrasing, ''cause you didn''t give us direct quotes. But, yes. She was being condescending. On purpose. And just in case you totally missed her diss -- she gave you a disclaimer: ''I hope you take the comment in the spirit . . .''
Holly, you made me laugh. That''s why that sentence bothered me so much! Because it''s like in case you missed it let me point it out to you...

I''m kind of really annoyed by this whole thing.
I don''t understand why this person would want or need to put me down. It''s a very unsettling feeling.
 

Italiahaircolor

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Maybe I''m a bit green, but that doesn''t strike me as overly condesending. It sounded genuinely kind, in my opinion (I could be wrong.)

But, you know this person best of all. Think about their general tone...how they approach things...and with what eyes they see the world. It''s like with PS...sometimes even the most good hearted comments are taken totally out of context and suddenly people are leaving the site, feelings are hurt.

I think when it comes to e-mail, blogging, text messaging or whatever interpretation is so skewed. We read things in our voice, our mood, our assumption of what we''re expecting that person to sound like...but not always in the voice inwhich it was originally writen, you know?

For example...my MIL and I have a checkered past. Whenever I get an e-mail from her, I always read it in a semi-snoody, I''m-better-than-you tone. Now, does she always write it in that tone? Probably not...but knowing her like I do, it''s the voice inwhich I read her e-mails.

Either way, I always try to take compliments in a positive light...and I genuinely hope you take time to realize that this lady took time out of her day to reach out to you...that says something, right?
 

Gypsy

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She needs to put you down probably because she's threatened. Usually when people do this to you in a professional environment what they are saying is... From my SUPERIOR vantage point up here on Mount Snot where I am qualified to judge, looking down at you peon, and letting you know that you MIGHT meet my hoity hoity standards. Eventually.

She's saying she has a right to judge you.

The proper reply depends on how mean you want to be. If she's old and mean I'd send her a note that thanks her for the 'peer to peer' encouragement and mention how from someone of her 'exensive years in the industry' it means a lot. Basically what that says is: You are not my superior, and BTW I'm younger than you and I've already caught up.

Subtext. Gotta love it.
 

CJ2008

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Date: 4/6/2009 7:16:05 PM
Author: Italiahaircolor
Maybe I''m a bit green, but that doesn''t strike me as overly condesending. It sounded genuinely kind, in my opinion (I could be wrong.)

But, you know this person best of all. Think about their general tone...how they approach things...and with what eyes they see the world. It''s like with PS...sometimes even the most good hearted comments are taken totally out of context and suddenly people are leaving the site, feelings are hurt.

I think when it comes to e-mail, blogging, text messaging or whatever interpretation is so skewed. We read things in our voice, our mood, our assumption of what we''re expecting that person to sound like...but not always in the voice inwhich it was originally writen, you know?

For example...my MIL and I have a checkered past. Whenever I get an e-mail from her, I always read it in a semi-snoody, I''m-better-than-you tone. Now, does she always write it in that tone? Probably not...but knowing her like I do, it''s the voice inwhich I read her e-mails.

Either way, I always try to take compliments in a positive light...and I genuinely hope you take time to realize that this lady took time out of her day to reach out to you...that says something, right?
Thank you for bringing up a different perspective.

You''re right that we should always pause when we think we know other people''s intentions, especially via the written word.

We can''t always tell the tone behind people''s emails. And you''re right that I should give some thought to who this lady is. There''s been other times when she''s made me feel a little bit talked down to but I can never put my finger on why. I some times think maybe it''s more about me than about her - in other words what do I care whether she''s thinks I''m talented or not? Some people will think I am, some peoplewill think I''m not.
 

HollyS

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Date: 4/6/2009 7:20:25 PM
Author: Gypsy
She needs to put you down probably because she's threatened. Usually when people do this to you in a professional environment what they are saying is... From my SUPERIOR vantage point up here on Mount Snot where I am qualified to judge, looking down at you peon, and letting you know that you MIGHT meet my hoity hoity standards.

She's saying she has a right to judge you.

The proper reply depends on how mean you want to be. If she's old and mean I'd send her a note that thanks her for the 'peer to peer' encouragement and mention how from someone of her 'exensive years in the industry' it means a lot. Basically what that says is: You are not my superior, and BTW I'm younger than you and I've already caught up.

Subtext. Gotta love it.
That would be a perfect response! I'm in complete awe of your snarkalicious skills.


My own response would be to ignore her. I'm kinda passive/agressive that way.
 

Kaleigh

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To m it comes as a back handed compliment which is condescending... Plain and simple. Ughhh for you. Ignore it.
 

CJ2008

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Date: 4/6/2009 7:20:25 PM
Author: Gypsy
She needs to put you down probably because she''s threatened. Usually when people do this to you in a professional environment what they are saying is... From my SUPERIOR vantage point up here on Mount Snot where I am qualified to judge, looking down at you peon, and letting you know that you MIGHT meet my hoity hoity standards.

She''s saying she has a right to judge you.

The proper reply depends on how mean you want to be. If she''s old and mean I''d send her a note that thanks her for the ''peer to peer'' encouragement and mention how from someone of her ''exensive years in the industry'' it means a lot. Basically what that says is: You are not my superior, and BTW I''m younger than you and I''ve already caught up.

Subtext. Gotta love it.
Let''s just say she''s established and that she met me when I was first developing this "talent." It is a professional relationship although sometimes I feel she asks me too many questions about what I''m doing or not doing. Yet the few times I asked her for help (nothing big) she didn''t really follow through like I thought she would. But maybe in a way I gave her the right to judge, by divulging anything I was doing/not doing/struggling with.

So what she says makes "sense" - but it feels consdescending. Why not just acknowldege the here and now?

But maybe like I said to Italia, it''s more about me than it is about her. Mabye it just bothers me that I ever confided in her at all.
 

CJ2008

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Date: 4/6/2009 7:26:03 PM
Author: Kaleigh
To m it comes as a back handed compliment which is condescending... Plain and simple. Ughhh for you. Ignore it.
Yeah, that''s what it feels like...
 

Haven

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I don''t see this email as being condescending, but you know the context of this whole situation better than anyone.

Did she seek you out via email just to tell you this? If so, then I *really* don''t see this as being condescending.

However, let me add a few disclaimers about where my response is coming from:
- I nearly always give people the benefit of the doubt. I find that it makes my life much more pleasant that way.
- I''m a proud big sister, so I''ve sent some "I am SO proud of you!" handwritten notes to my sisters'' friends over the years when their friends have accomplished things that I felt warranted acknowledgment, and they have never been meant to sound condescending. (And now I certainly hope they weren''t received that way!)
 

Haven

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Oh, and I meant to add:

*If* this was meant to be condescending, you are just furthering her evil plot by dwelling on it. I say let it go, assume she was trying to be nice, and kill her with kindness when you send a gracious thank you in response.

At least, that''s what I would do. I''d *never* want anyone to think that her passive aggressiveness permeated my cool, calm, endlessly confident demeanor.
 

CJ2008

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Date: 4/6/2009 7:46:30 PM
Author: Haven
I don''t see this email as being condescending, but you know the context of this whole situation better than anyone.

Did she seek you out via email just to tell you this? If so, then I *really* don''t see this as being condescending.

However, let me add a few disclaimers about where my response is coming from:
- I nearly always give people the benefit of the doubt. I find that it makes my life much more pleasant that way.
- I''m a proud big sister, so I''ve sent some ''I am SO proud of you!'' handwritten notes to my sisters'' friends over the years when their friends have accomplished things that I felt warranted acknowledgment, and they have never been meant to sound condescending. (And now I certainly hope they weren''t received that way!)
I sent a sample of this marketing work to several people, including her.

I think it is the context...

But to tell you the truth there are not too many people I want to hear "I''m so proud of you" from - other than my DH, my parents, my family...and maybe certain other people, like a career coach...but not this particular lady, I am not sure why.

Although that still doesn''t mean she was TRYING to be condescending - it''s just the way I feel.
 

CJ2008

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Date: 4/6/2009 7:50:55 PM
Author: Haven
Oh, and I meant to add:

*If* this was meant to be condescending, you are just furthering her evil plot by dwelling on it. I say let it go, assume she was trying to be nice, and kill her with kindness when you send a gracious thank you in response.

At least, that''s what I would do. I''d *never* want anyone to think that her passive aggressiveness permeated my cool, calm, endlessly confident demeanor.
Absolutely - the more I think about it, like I was saying earlier, what do I care what she really thinks?

I''m not really dwelling on it (although I do appreciate the reminder - some things aren''t worth the energy) - just avoiding some work for a little while with this mini-dilemma. haha
 
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