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Is wanting to understand a bad thing?

Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
This isn't strictly about relationships, it affects many parts of life, but I think it fits best here.

I had a conversation with someone the other day, and he mentioned that someone told him they were annoyed at his insistence to understand everything. He said that he hadn't realised he was doing that and wants to try and do it less.

I have realised that I want to understand everything (or as much as possible) but I don't really understand (heh) why that's a problem. Surely understanding more things makes you a wiser person, and, when it comes to relationships, understanding another person better makes you better able to relate to them, is that not so?

One thing both me and the guy I was talking to have in common, for example, is that when someone does something that (to our understanding of that person before that point) is out-of-character, we want to understand why they did it.
This doesn't mean that I'm going to press someone to explain something they don't want to talk about (I'm not sure if he would) but I've noticed that sometimes people get annoyed with me when I try to reconcile something they did with my seemingly contradictory assessment of their personality based on other things they've said or done.
The above sentence sounded too scientific for my liking. What I mean is that I ask them why they did/said thing X, while thing Y which they did/said before seems to characterise them as someone wouldn't do/say X. I hope that makes better sense.

Hm... any opinions?

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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I guess sometimes people dont want to share some parts of their life, and prefer to keep it secret. They dont want to have to explain why what they did is so out of character (to you, maybe to them its totally normal), and unless it directly affects you in a big way that should be respected
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The above sentence sounded too scientific for my liking. What I mean is that I ask them why they did/said thing X, while thing Y which they did/said before seems to characterise them as someone wouldn't do/say X. I hope that makes better sense.

    I'm struggling to put into words why this would irritate me.

    I guess it boils down to coming across as arrogantly assuming that you know a person well enough to be able to predict their views or responses to everything and then having the nerve to question them when they don't behave how you expect. But then I don't know how you go about it, so I might be misreading.

    Maybe it annoys people because you do it a lot? Maybe they feel like they're being dehumanised and treated as an object of curiosity than a person. It's tough to say without knowing what kind of questions you throw at people.

    How well do you know these people? Because if a casual acquaintance started asking me why I said something because they had already pigeon-holed me as a certain kind of person I'd be weirded out and pissed off.
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    Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
    There's no "pigeon holing" involved. I'm not placing anyone in a category, everyone is their own "category".
    If I didn't ask, I'd have to try and reconcile the two things by guessing. Is that really better?
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If I didn't ask, I'd have to try and reconcile the two things by guessing. Is that really better?

    If you are annoying people with your approach and questions then yes, "guessing" is better. Or at least making an educated guess based on what you know about them.

    Roughly how often do you do this? Because if you are asking a lot of people then the issue is probably with your poor characterisation and intuiting of people.

    The more I think about it the more I realise that I'd be ticked off by someone telling me that I was doing something out of character and asking why I doing that. To be honest, I'd find it a socially tone deaf move. And judgemental.

    When and where are you asking these questions? Can you give some examples; both of what kind of disparities you see and what you say to the person?
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You say there's no pigeon holing, but at some level there must be.

    Howncan you make a judgement as to whether something is out of character or not if you haventnfirst judged what someone's character is?
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I recognise it is a very intrusive behaviour and I try not to do it. "I don't have to explain myself to you"

    Unfortunately I often don't recognise I'm doing it (I'm too busy chasing down that intriguing discrepancy) and sometimes it's too hard to stop (but that's such an interesting deviation from my expectations)

    I can think of 5 main responses to the unexpected:

    aversion: run away and never go there again
    expression: write a poem or draw a picture about it
    discussion: talk about it
    acceptance: forget about it
    curiosity: take it apart and see what happened

    curiosity is great when exploring the world, not so great for interpersonal relationships.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You say there's no pigeon holing, but at some level there must be.

    Howncan you make a judgement as to whether something is out of character or not if you haventnfirst judged what someone's character is?
    pigeon holing is fitting someone into a pre-existing category, building a model of someone's character is creating a category of for that person and then continually tailoring it to improve the match to reality.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I would find it quite intrusive, but I don't like having my motives questioned.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think people find this kind of curiosity offensive for ego's sake largely. I think by the nature we have the phrases 'acting out of character' and so on implies that most people adhere to their own personal normative behaviours. People are often predictable.

    Even on these boards there are people who will almost always 'give it to you straight' and others who almost always sugar coat. Can you imagine *Helen* telling someone to grow the fuck up?

    I don't think it's a bad thing, it's just part of being a person with an identity and a set of beliefs and values in how you approach the world.

    However, in my experience many people don't like to be questioned often, mostly they will become defensive - like your asking why they did something different is an attack on them, even if you don't mean to make a value judgement on the abnormal action.
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    **helen****helen** Deactivated Posts: 9,235 Supreme Poster
    ShyBoy wrote: »

    However, in my experience many people don't like to be questioned often, mostly they will become defensive - like your asking why they did something different is an attack on them, even if you don't mean to make a value judgement on the abnormal action.

    :yes: this. We are very, very defensive beings by nature. I can remember very few times when friends of mine have dared question my actions, because we know that people generally don't like it and take offence. I'm glad those friends did though because it does get you thinking and often times we do thinks without as much self-awareness as we'd like to think we have. :) I'm probably in a minority though.
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    Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
    I've been trying to think of a specific example but it doesn't happen often enough for me to remember one right now.
    I don't think I've ever said something like "Explain why you did that, because it's out-of-character". If anything it's "Huh, how come you did this instead of that?" or "Interesting, I didn't think you'd do that."
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    Annaarrr!!Annaarrr!! Posts: 876 Part of The Mix Family
    Yeah I don't get why everyone is bitching about this. Asking questions like this could actually help to open peoples eyes to their actions. If you can justify why you did something why is there any need to get annoyed?
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Annaarrr!! wrote: »
    Yeah I don't get why everyone is bitching about this. Asking questions like this could actually help to open peoples eyes to their actions. If you can justify why you did something why is there any need to get annoyed?

    Because life isn't one long therapy session. It's fine when you're in a supportive context or you're looking for help and advice but it's really tedious outside.

    If the action isn't a destructive one, why does motivation matter? Is it that important to know?
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    Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
    piccolo wrote: »
    If the action isn't a destructive one, why does motivation matter? Is it that important to know?
    I answered that in the first post:
    Surely understanding more things makes you a wiser person, and, when it comes to relationships, understanding another person better makes you better able to relate to them.
    It's not necessary to know and so if they say they don't want to explain I don't push it, but I still can't see what's wrong with asking.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I answered that in the first post:

    It's not necessary to know and so if they say they don't want to explain I don't push it, but I still can't see what's wrong with asking.

    I understand the desire to know, but you need to balance that. Just saying "you don't have to tell me" isn't enough sometimes. I do occasionally use that phrase, or "feel free to tell me to do one", but people shouldn't have to all the time.

    If you don't NEED to know, try to think about how often you've been asking for stuff you just want to know.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's not necessary to know and so if they say they don't want to explain I don't push it, but I still can't see what's wrong with asking.

    So you did! I suppose it depends on the person. Some people are just very defensive - it seems I'm one of them...
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Interesting topic.

    I imagine if someone's done something that you think is out of character then there are likely to be pertinent influencing factors that made them act that way. I suspect there are a number of reasons why people might be irked at you inquiring as to why they acted a certain way, and I think salient among those, particularly if they've acted in way that was a bit cunty, is that people can be quite hostile to self-reflection - especially if they suspect a little introspection is likely to turn up unflattering motivation.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    To me it would sound like you thought that there was a reason behind it, and that I needed to justify my reason to you.

    I do things for my own reasons, and I'd rarely want to explain them to anyone else. Often because when I do things that are 'out of character' it's for reasons that I'm not keen on explaining.

    That and to me it's far more awkward to say I don't want to tell you, than it is for you to never ask the question in the first place.
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    Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
    That and to me it's far more awkward to say I don't want to tell you, than it is for you to never ask the question in the first place.
    Well, if something is none of my business, "I don't want to tell you" is met with a simple "Fair enough" and a change of the subject. I don't see why anyone would be upset at being told that something is private (as far as it didn't concern them).
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    No, I don't see why anyone would be upset - but some people might feel their privacy is being invaded of they're being asked questions that might have 'none of your business' as an answer
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