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NancyLebovitz comments on LW Women: LW Online - Less Wrong

29 Post author: daenerys 15 February 2013 01:43AM

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Comment author: NancyLebovitz 16 February 2013 09:07:32PM 15 points [-]

I have suddenly acquired some sympathy for the 'keep it simple and blunt' contingent.

The transcript is incomplete, but has a fair amount about cordiality escalation and trying to decipher the possible meaning of the absence of a usual cordial signal. The audio includes a woman saying that she's apt to use an ellipsis rather than a period because she's concerned that a period is too blunt.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 17 February 2013 02:42:19AM *  -1 points [-]

I tend to sign my email with an actual signature.
- Dan

Does that make me a horrible person?

Agonizing over a period versus an ellipsis? I recoil in horror at the thought of having such feelings routinely intrude into my consciousness.

It's always interesting to see how the other half lives, even when it's appalling.

Were they saying that women learned they shouldn't be abrupt in the work place?

Who are they supposed to have learned that from? They sure as hell didn't learn that from me. And every man I know wishes women were more to the point. The stereotype criticism is "blah blah blah", not abruptness. If you're in charge, make decisions, and give orders. I'll salute, and we'll get something done.

EDIT: On further thought, for business purposes, most men prefer than women be more abrupt and bossy. On a personal/romantic level, men don't like women to be abrupt and bossy. Personal is probably more motivating than business.

Comment author: ahartell 17 February 2013 03:41:22AM 3 points [-]

Who are they supposed to have learned that from? They sure as hell didn't learn that from me. And every man I know wishes women were more to the point. The stereotype criticism is "blah blah blah", not abruptness. If you're in charge, make decisions, and give orders. I'll salute, and we'll get something done.

No citations, but I've heard a lot of times that women in business positions are punished for being assertive or aggressive in situations where men are expected to do the same. I don't know if this is true (I think it probably is), but either way I've definitely heard it enough times that it doesn't surprise me that women would think they should try not to seem abrupt or bossy.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 17 February 2013 03:52:51AM 3 points [-]

But are they sure that the men aren't similarly punished, even when expected to be aggressive?

For example, people may expect men to be aggressive. But other men are expected to be aggressive back. So you can be punished, while still doing what's expected. Basically, it's called losing in a competitive environment.

But there is a problem with our discussion. We're talking an undefined categorical situation. Everyone reading it can insert their own scenario as a prototype, leaving no one talking about the same thing.

This thread on "hostile unfriendly tone" is suffering from a severe lack of concrete details. Without concretes, we're just projecting the situations we find problematic onto the schema.

Comment author: ahartell 17 February 2013 04:08:11AM 2 points [-]

I don't know if they're sure. Mostly I was just responding to the "who are they supposed to have learned that from?". I think there are a lot of social, gender expectation-y things that would lead to women thinking that they were "supposed" to be less assertive.

Comment author: Desrtopa 22 February 2013 05:24:44AM 0 points [-]

Agonizing over a period versus an ellipsis? I recoil in horror at the thought of having such feelings routinely intrude into my consciousness.

It's always interesting to see how the other half lives, even when it's appalling.

I'm not sure who exactly "the other half" is here, but I'll note that this is a completely relatable experience to me. If I'm writing a message where I expect the recipients to be highly connotation-sensitive, in a context where I have anything important riding on the impression I create, I'll agonize over getting exactly the right phrasing and punctuation for ideal signaling effect.

I certainly don't do it because I prefer it that way, but I can't decide how seriously to have other people take the signaling content of my messages, so if I suspect it may be serious, I'll invest a commensurate level of attention.

On Less Wrong, thankfully, I generally don't feel compelled to do this, and I can focus most of my effort on managing my denotation.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 22 February 2013 10:12:20PM 2 points [-]

Yes. "the recipients to be highly connotation-sensitive ...anything important riding on the impression ...agonize... don't do it because I prefer it that way".

Yes, a very unpleasant situation. Wouldn't you also consider it a horror to have to endure on a routine basis?

The discussion in the article did not seem to be about rare important events, but routine email communications.

But instead of "connotation sensitive", I'd say "connotation reactive" to better identify the situation. If someone is extremely sensitive to reading fine nuance in connotation, they will accurately read small variations on your connotations as small variations, not large ones. It's the high gain to those small variations, making mountains out of molehills, that it becomes an issue. And those reactive people may or may not be "sensitive" at all, in the sense of being precisely accurate in their assessments. It's when a small input on your part results in a large one on theirs that it becomes worthwhile to try to finely control your output.

Even when there isn't a lot on the line, though not agonizing, it's still unpleasant, to deal with highly reactive people. I've thought of them like lamps with an electrical short - you just never know when you're going to get zapped.

They feel zapped too, when talking to me. I understand that. We're electrically incompatible.

But I'd say that I have a broader and more effective range of operation than they do.

With perfect reading of a person's connotations, highly reactive people could get along fine with themselves. They could turn their own speech connotations down to counteract the reactive gain. But without perfect reading, they are subject to large perturbations subject to the noise inherent in their own interpretations. You can't make that work well, even assuming a homogeneous group of reactives. When tit for tat is employed, it's way too have a large perturbation from noise spiral out of control into a feud.

Meanwhile, unreactives, whether sensitive or not, can have highly productive conversations by focusing their energies on managing their denotation.

It's a feedback system. When the feedback gain exceeds noise sensitivity, you're screwed.

Comment author: Desrtopa 22 February 2013 10:16:06PM 0 points [-]

Wouldn't you also consider it a horror to have to endure on a routine basis?

I do. Situations like that aren't uncommon for me at all.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 22 February 2013 10:25:22PM 1 point [-]

My condolences.

For me, not so routine, but too frequent for my taste.

I've been trying to figure out how I can avoid that. I'd like to be a part of an organization of nonreactives who were getting things done. Seems like we don't have the numbers, and the positions of power (see "important riding on the impression"), to have a lot of spaces of our own.