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.

21 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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  13. Oh, I like this one even better than the one I just commented on. :) I need to share this with the preteen girls I work with!

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  14. Unfortunately when it comes to the internet, anonymity equals strong views and opinions, put forth without the balance consideration typical of face-to-face communication. Certainly anyone who spends any time on forums or blogs soon learns this.

    I don't know why it is such a hard concept for people to grasp, but you don't have to agree with another person's opinion or beliefs in order to respect them. Nor they to yours. Two people can merrily converse over a subject they share opposing views on - be it politics, religion or the design of a Tiny House - so long as they simply hold a little respect for the other's opinion. Opinions are of course different to facts, so there is no 'right' or 'wrong', simply what a person believes in earnest - hopefully with some considered thought to back up that view.

    People do however invest a lot in their opinions and some struggle to accept anything beyond it. An open mind is key.

    As an example, my partner and I are in the stages of designing our tiny house (though at 31m2 or 335sqft it will be on the bigger side of tiny) and, as you do, are scouring every blog and site on the subject for ideas. We've seen plenty we like, and just as much we don't. The ever-popular Tumbleweed-style of tiny house, the shrunken quarter-scale traditional American cabin that has becoming something of a default design for the tiny house movement, really doesn't appeal to us for a number of reasons. The steep gable roof results in a tight and low-headroom loft area; a necessary evil perhaps in areas with high winter snowfalls, but wasted opportunity elsewhere. Inbuilt porches, awnings, dormer windows and the like are, to my eyes, both a waste of valuable interior space and an unnecessary and expensive complication to the building process. Dark, unpainted timber all around the interiors seemed counterproductive to creating a sense of space beyond the constrained dimensions. Adjacent kitchens and bathrooms seemed almost too compact and raised some genuine questions about hygiene.

    I've been mulling over how all this could be worked into a blog post in the future. A provocative title along the lines of 'Everything That's Wrong With Tiny House Design' would be great linkbait, for sure, and get tongues wagging, but I've realised that I'd be inappropriate and unreasonable, as really all I'd be talking about were MY OWN opinions applicable to our own particular requirements, environmental concerns and design sensibilities. Who's to say they'd be applicable to anyone else?

    Tiny Homes not only give their owners environmental and financial freedom, but also architectural freedom - the freedom to design it themselves the way their lives and whim suit. Of course, anyone with the money can have a 'big' house built any way they care, but when talking hundreds of thousands of dollars it's always been prudent to consider not only your own requirements, but that of any subsequent owner if and when you decide to sell. As such, big house design tends to be homogenised to some extent to increase its general appeal. With the typical Tiny House costing much less, owners can more freely indulge in creating something very much designed specific to their own lives and needs. I feel it is something that should be encouraged.

    I think on danger the Tiny House Movement may well face (if it isn't already) is people attempting to narrow its definition to particular characteristics and ideas. That a tiny house has to be 7x20' on a flatbed trailer. Made of reclaimed timber and old windows with no VOCs in the paint. Off grid. With a sawdust-in-a-bucket toilet. And that Tiny Housers are all hippies and artists/writers who earn an irregular salary and thus they can't afford normal rent for a normal house. Things like that won't help the Tiny Houses move out from the fringe.

    As such it is important to be open and welcoming to new ideas and points of view, even if you don't necessarily agree with them.

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