Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Please Don't Yuck My Yum

So before I start my series on Living Deliberately, I wanted to talk about something that is far too common with online communications.

I want to talk about Yum Yucking.

What is this? Well, I have no idea who coined the phrase but Yum Yucking is, quite literally, the act of telling someone that something they like isn't good enough to like in the first place.

For instance, if you're out to eat with a friend and you order sushi they might look at you and say, "Ug, how can you eat that? It is so awful. I've never tried it but I just can't imagine eating that!" This, my friends, is yucking someone's yum. Telling someone what they like is capital-B.A.D. doesn't foster communication, it shuts it down. Why would you continue having a conversation with anyone when you now wait for them to have a negative comment about everything you like?

I've known Yum Yuckers my entire life. When I was in college I listened to a lot of Tori Amos. Some of my so-called friends would constantly tell me "I don't know how you could like her - her music isn't any good." I never once thought, "Wow, they're right. This music sucks!" What it really made me want to do was never talk to them again.

What is horrid to you is delightful to someone else. Taste is subjective and your opinion on the matter doesn't make it universally bad. 

This most certainly applies to conversations within the tiny house community. At an event not too long ago I was showing photos of our house when someone exclaimed, "Oh, how ugly! Why would you decorate your house in green?"

Most of the the time I just smile and move on but this time I looked at them and said, "Because I like green. If you don't like green that's fine. If you build your own house you don't have to use any green."

I was kind of surprised when they were taken aback. "Did that comment offend you?" they asked. Well, yes, it did. What purpose does it serve to tell me that the thing I like is bad? 

I know some suggest that we should "grow a thicker skin" to deal with these kinds of comments. And while this can help our blood pressure stay lower in general it doesn't actually solve the problem. In truth, I don't need to listen to negative comments about the things I like. I strive not to say similar comments to people I care about even if I don't share their taste. I recognize that we enjoy different things. I might like sushi and you don't. I like green and you don't. There are any number of things that you might like that I don't prefer.

Let's recognize these differences and focus on the things we do share.Let's all make a conscious effort not to yuck anyone else's yum.

19 comments:

  1. I think some people, like your "green" commenter, don't even realize they are actually being offensive and crossing boundaries that they shouldn't be crossing. Maybe it's time to go back to the Dear Abby/Ann Landers solution: looking mildly shocked and saying, "I can't believe you would ask such a question/say such a thing" and change the subject.

    Jana

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  2. Thanks have meet a few myself and have tried to be polite about things but, sometimes I admit that I have lost it on them.
    Thanks for the post and I hope that next time we can all find that perfect comeback or thing to say not after we have walked away.

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  3. I'll start the uplifting responses! I like both Tori Amos (she has written some of the most beautiful and throught inducing music I know) and the color green. I don't care for beer, but I like several people who do that both sides of that is okay.

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    1. I love Tori Amos and feel lucky that I got to hear her live once. I also like beer. As you say, Viva la difference!

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  4. My mother always used to say, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

    I wonder if parents no longer impart this message, or if people are just deciding to ignore it. But I think one rarely goes wrong by simply not saying the first thing that pops into mind.

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  5. Let's look at the irony of this post. What you term as 'Yum Yucking' and expressing your distaste for it, is also a form of 'Yum Yucking'. You just don't like the way someone has expressed themselves! If you have confidence in your own self expression, then nothing anyone can say or ask could offend you. How is anyone to know what offends you and what doesn't? This is your issue, not theirs!

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    1. A negative opinion that has no constructive value and is entirely subjective is unnecessary and potentially useless to the one being told. If you're a type who is "expressing themselves" and doesn't want to be told "Hey I don't need that kind of negative non-costructive subjective opinion raining on my parade" Then you had better get constructive ie back up your opinion, or simply keep your opinion to yourself and try supporting people.

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    2. anonymous, this is so well said! i have a friend who LOVES to rattle off all-too-frequently his negative opinions of the world; he seems to think there is NO OTHER way to think about things & when i claim, calmly, to not see things his way, he tends to go ballistic. he is a narcissist, so is not really capable of hearing other people's opinions. it can be amusing, yes, but not during his temper tantrum over it. so, there are these kinds of people in the world, also, that we deal w/on a daily basis.

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  6. Love it!!! It's hilarious when people state opinion as fact. In the meanwhile completely forgetting that it is just a point of view and that various people have various opinions.

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  7. Love it!!! It's hilarious when people state opinion as fact. In the meanwhile completely forgetting that it is just a point of view and that various people have various opinions.

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  8. You might want to grow a little thicker layer of skin.

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    1. that's not the point - it's being told that what you like or how you live is displeasing or downright wrong. It's realizing how different your sensibilities are from someone else. I just had this happen to me- I feel kinda sad in a way that my friend is so unwilling to realize that I have a different approach and instead feels the need to voice her disapproval.

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    2. You might want to read before you comment. She predicted the "thicker skin" advice and addressed it in these words: while this [growing a thicker skin] can help our blood pressure stay lower in general it doesn't actually solve the problem."

      The problem she refers to is a growing habit among many people in our culture of going out of their way to communicate negative opinions to others about everything, including "yukking their yums" to their faces. As already pointed out, these comments - no matter how sincere the opinions - are not constructive and have no worthwhile purpose. They can irritate, hurt feelings, bring up insecurities, reveal the speakers' negativity and lack of sensitivity, and sometimes kill the spark of potential friendship before it begins. That's where their power ends.

      Laura brings up a valid point; let's ask ourselves before speaking whether what we're about to say is true, kind, and in some way constructive, supportive, or informative.

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  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knro0i2JH44

    this video seems relevant~

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  10. The line, "How could anybody...?" really gets to me. I calmly respond with "Well I... So somebody..."

    I think your response is a good one. Why surround people like that? Having said that, life is short, why should we hold grudges over such inconsequential things?

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  11. I believe it's called having an open mind, unfortunately too many have closed...

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  12. Tastes are varied and opinions are as numerous as those of us here under the sun. Many are complacent with living the kind of life most others do, and thinking it is normalcy. If you like a little something different, that is what makes life interesting. Many are caught in their own realm of concepts.

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