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zonsop

"Actually" and "considering"

Posted (edited)

A couple of conversations that I've had the chance to observe and/ or been a part of that I've replayed in my mind occasionally in the last couple of years. Let me know if I'm overthinking please. 

The question is- What drives these statements in blue please? They were said by different people in different contexts. 

Conversation 1

Party A: Well, she's (party B) done very well considering where she's come from. 

1st context- Party A is a former prom queen and a mixed bag of kindness and jealousy, and Party B is a successful business owner and former fashion model (a successful one too).

2nd context- Party B is an excellent and effective social worker/ counsellor of troubled youths and herself was once a troubled youth, but had turned her life around and is living well. Party A is her aunt. 

Here, I do think that Party B in both of these contexts were doing well; a person with no knowledge of Party B's background would still think this way. It's difficult to not have the gut feeling that Party A in both contexts might have come from a place of meanness or jealousy. Also, it seems counterproductive to me, to add the 'considering where she's come from' part. Is that very far off the mark? 

Conversation 2

Party A to Party B about Party B's work/ creation/ performance/ analysis/ writing/ etc: Hey, that's actually good/ nice/ impressive/ (insert positive adjective). 

In all the contexts that I've heard this statement, Party A does not know Party B well, and Party B has little doubts that his/ her product is excellent. 

Here, I wonder whether there's any upside for Party B to receive the additional 'actually' and what would drive Party A's inclusion of the word 'actually'? 

P.S. Please feel free to add your own examples and interpretations of them!

Edited by zonsop

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Posted (edited)

23 minutes ago, zonsop said:

A couple of conversations that I've had the chance to observe and/ or been a part of that I've replayed in my mind occasionally in the last couple of years. Let me know if I'm overthinking please. 

The question is- What drives these statements in blue please? They were said by different people in different contexts. 

Conversation 1

Party A: Well, she's (party B) done very well considering where she's come from. 

1st context- Party A is a former prom queen and a mixed bag of kindness and jealousy, and Party B is a successful business owner and former fashion model (a successful one too).

2nd context- Party B is an excellent and effective social worker/ counsellor of troubled youths and herself was once a troubled youth, but had turned her life around and is living well. Party A is her aunt. 

Here, I do think that Party B in both of these contexts were doing well; a person with no knowledge of Party B's background would still think this way. It's difficult to not have the gut feeling that Party A in both contexts might have come from a place of meanness or jealousy. Also, it seems counterproductive to me, to add the 'considering where she's come from' part. Is that very far off the mark? 

Are you asking if Party A is being a jealous bitch? If so, yeah, for sure. :laugh:

 

Quote

Conversation 2

Party A to Party B about Party B's work/ creation/ performance/ analysis/ writing/ etc: Hey, that's actually good/ nice/ impressive/ (insert positive adjective). 

In all the contexts that I've heard this statement, Party A does not know Party B well, and Party B has little doubts that his/ her product is excellent. 

Here, I wonder whether there's any upside for Party B to receive the additional 'actually' and what would drive Party A's inclusion of the word 'actually'? 

P.S. Please feel free to add your own examples and interpretations of them!

Party A's inclusion of the 'actually' suggests possible condescension towards Party B's accomplishments, via not just lukewarm praise, but praise that is laced with an insult. Party A is trying to create the impression that they are an authority on what is and isn't 'good', and  insinuate that they are surprised that something Party B has done meets their standards of quality, thereby suggesting that they don't think highly of Party B's skills and potential in the first place. The feigned surprise is the metaphorical razor blade in the congratulatory apple. 

Edited by Madden

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Is it possible that these Party A's aren't aware of how they might feel or be interpreted by Party B?

On these two simple words in this context, I've fluctuated between 'damn, I'm too naive' and 'why am I so pessimistic'. 

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It's possible that what you are suggesting is true, but it is also possible that those phrases are meant to convey real information and are not being used in that context.  One of them could even be filler.  I tend to do that myself a lot.

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1 minute ago, zonsop said:

Is it possible that these Party A's aren't aware of how they might feel or be interpreted by Party B?

I couldn't say for sure on either count. I just know jealousy when I see it.

That's an interesting second question, by the way. Why are you interested in their awareness of their jealousy (and barbed comments)?

1 minute ago, zonsop said:

On these two simple words in this context, I've fluctuated between 'damn, I'm too naive' and 'why am I so pessimistic'. 

You mean you want to give Party A types the benefit of the doubt? 

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Maybe she thinks she a higher social class with the authority to judge downward on people?  Like a lord judging a peasant. :blank:

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1 minute ago, Madden said:

Why are you interested in their awareness of their jealousy (and barbed comments)?

Family and close people say these things sometimes... :p Also, morbid curiosity. 

2 minutes ago, Madden said:

You mean you want to give Party A types the benefit of the doubt?

Yes, it is possible that they didn't think their assumption that for instance, a young person (Party B) could achieve a certain accolade, could possibly offend the young person? Since it's a reasonable assumption for instance? (Tactless, yes, that is one interpretation, but not necessarily mean-spirited.)

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Posted (edited)

6 minutes ago, zonsop said:

Family and close people say these things sometimes... :p Also, morbid curiosity. 

I completely understand. :laugh: I enjoy analyzing souls minds and methods.

Quote

Yes, it is possible that they didn't think their assumption that for instance, a young person (Party B) could achieve a certain accolade, could possibly offend the young person? Since it's a reasonable assumption for instance? (Tactless, yes, that is one interpretation, but not necessarily mean-spirited.)

It could be tactless and mean-spirited (or one or the other) depending on patterns in Party A's behaviour (where 'behaviour' includes, but isn't limited to, linguistic habits/patterns). If they are only 'tactless' with certain people and about certain subjects (i.e. The accomplishments of young people, in this instance), that could suggest a bias towards young people, and a prejudiced/ageist attitude in Party A. This doesn't exclude the possibility of mean-spiritedness, by the way. 

 
 
...... added to this post 6 minutes later:
 
14 minutes ago, sommers71 said:

Maybe she thinks she a higher social class with the authority to judge downward on people?  Like a lord judging a peasant. :blank:

I think it's partly an attempt to bump up their ego, yeah, because they feel threatened by the accomplishments of Party B. 

Edited by Madden

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12 minutes ago, Madden said:

It could be

Ok, so there's a good chance that on average, these phrases are telling, but it's still probabilistic (subject to observation of deviations from baseline behaviour, if any)? 

Knowledge of what drives these statements and people, helps with the navigation of relationships with them. :p

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3 minutes ago, zonsop said:

Ok, so there's a good chance that on average, these phrases are telling, but it's still probabilistic (subject to observation of deviations from baseline behaviour, if any)? 

As in, there's always the possibility of simple derpy-derpness on the part of Party A? Yeah, for sure. Patterns will tell you the 'truth', one way or another. 

3 minutes ago, zonsop said:

Knowledge of what drives these statements and people, helps with the navigation of relationships with them. :p

You're learnin' to read souls, ain't ya? :sneaky:

 

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Posted (edited)

9 hours ago, Madden said:

Party A's inclusion of the 'actually' suggests possible condescension towards Party B's accomplishments, via not just lukewarm praise, but praise that is laced with an insult. Party A is trying to create the impression that they are an authority on what is and isn't 'good', and  insinuate that they are surprised that something Party B has done meets their standards of quality, thereby suggesting that they don't think highly of Party B's skills and potential in the first place. The feigned surprise is the metaphorical razor blade in the congratulatory apple. 

Could also be a comment that compares B's work to that of others, for example, when A gets to see lots of horrible self-made whatevers, then encounters B's whatever and actually likes it, making it a positive expression of relief/surprise/... .

To me the interpretation of these statements would depend on both the context and the tone/body language. My mind didn't immediately zero in on negative, possible interpretations when reading them.

Edited by Doob

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11 hours ago, zonsop said:

Party A: Well, she's (party B) done very well considering where she's come from. 

1st context- Party A is a former prom queen and a mixed bag of kindness and jealousy, and Party B is a successful business owner and former fashion model (a successful one too).

2nd context- Party B is an excellent and effective social worker/ counsellor of troubled youths and herself was once a troubled youth, but had turned her life around and is living well. Party A is her aunt. 

 

11 hours ago, zonsop said:

Conversation 2

Party A to Party B about Party B's work/ creation/ performance/ analysis/ writing/ etc: Hey, that's actually good/ nice/ impressive/ (insert positive adjective). 

In all the contexts that I've heard this statement, Party A does not know Party B well, and Party B has little doubts that his/ her product is excellent. 

 

11 hours ago, zonsop said:

The question is- What drives these statements in blue please? They were said by different people in different contexts. 

At best, the soft bigotry of low expectations. At worst, somebody who needs to be told they're a cunt for handing out praise with judgmental damnation. There's no enthusiastic or real praise in either example since neither are absent of criticism.

Specifically, both examples in Conversation 1 serve only to remind one and all that that the recipient "has a past"...and well, make of that what you will...("Do leopards really change their spots?", "Is she 100% deserving of what she's attained?)

In the case of Conversation 2, "Party B has little doubts that his/ her product is excellent. " says it all. Usage of the word "actually" would only ever be appropriate if Party B had doubts about his/her product quality, and positively stated as reassurance. In the given context, it's simply another version of "Coming from somebody like you, it's a surprise in my estimation."

LOL this stuff really grinds my gears. Early on in my career, a team leader didn't show up to chair the monthly head office meeting so I did it. Afterwards I overheard a pair of bigshots gossiping by the water fountain: "Well I went in to cancel the meeting but Rick was chairing it already and - believe it or not - handling it quite well". "Oh really?" with shrugged shoulders and a chuckle was the response. It was all I could do to not yell out "I can see I won't get far in an organization which ignorantly undervalues my skills - as you assholes have just demonstrated."  :laugh:

 

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@zonsop, is there a cultural nuance to this? If so, it might be the impacts of asian Face.

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Posted (edited)

I'd say this is all on whomever is saying it.

If the person is rich and privileged, it is sort of a backhanded compliment.

If the person is poor and disadvantaged, they're giving credit to someone who went very far with limited resources. Even if their result was not completely perfect, as someone with the exact same ambition and intelligence might accomplish with way more resources, they did a pretty damn good job, all things considered.

 

All where it is coming from.

Edited by EchoFlame

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3 hours ago, Doob said:

Could also be a comment that compares B's work to that of others, for example, when A gets to see lots of horrible self-made whatevers, then encounters B's whatever and actually likes it, making it a positive expression of relief/surprise/... .

To me the interpretation of these statements would depend on both the context and the tone/body language. My mind didn't immediately zero in on negative, possible interpretations when reading them.

It's a logical possibility that Party A is comparing Party B's stuff to other inferior stuff, sure, and finding Party B's efforts well done in contrast, and in a way that surprises Party A in a good way. But Party A didn't say 'I actually like that'; they said this: "Hey, that's actually good/ nice/ impressive/ (insert positive adjective)."

Placing the word 'actually' in there can render the compliment lukewarm at best, and backhanded at worst.

An illustrative example of the impact of inserting the word 'actually' in a compliment:

Nirvanna The Band The Show: A Canadian comedy that’s actually funny

 

2 hours ago, rickster said:

In the case of Conversation 2, "Party B has little doubts that his/ her product is excellent. " says it all. Usage of the word "actually" would only ever be appropriate if Party B had doubts about his/her product quality, and positively stated as reassurance. In the given context, it's simply another version of "Coming from somebody like you, it's a surprise in my estimation."

That's how I interpreted it. There's something supercilious in the way that it's phrased.

2 hours ago, rickster said:

LOL this stuff really grinds my gears. Early on in my career, a team leader didn't show up to chair the monthly head office meeting so I did it. Afterwards I overheard a pair of bigshots gossiping by the water fountain: "Well I went in to cancel the meeting but Rick was chairing it already and - believe it or not - handling it quite well". "Oh really?" with shrugged shoulders and a chuckle was the response. It was all I could do to not yell out "I can see I won't get far in an organization which ignorantly undervalues my skills - as you assholes have just demonstrated."  :laugh:

 

How horrific. :laugh:

My aunt (my mum's older sister) is a master at damning with faint praise and backhanded compliments. I could provide hundreds of examples, every single one more eye-poppingly cutting than the last.

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3 hours ago, Madden said:

It's a logical possibility that Party A is comparing Party B's stuff to other inferior stuff, sure, and finding Party B's efforts well done in contrast, and in a way that surprises Party A in a good way. But Party A didn't say 'I actually like that'; they said this: "Hey, that's actually good/ nice/ impressive/ (insert positive adjective)."

Placing the word 'actually' in there can render the compliment lukewarm at best, and backhanded at worst.

An illustrative example of the impact of inserting the word 'actually' in a compliment:

Nirvanna The Band The Show: A Canadian comedy that’s actually funny

I'm aware how 'actually' (or 'considering') can be used in backhanded, condescending ways, but I do think there is a sufficient number of situations where it isn't that I don't think it should be the default/automatic interpretation. It's better to make that judgement when you are present and can directly observe the context as well as the tone/body language. It isn't just about logical possibilities either but real life examples I have encountered. 

For example, in a society where it's expected to give praise for stuff even when it's essentially a 'white' lie and not sincere, A might often find themselves in situations where they give praise to people who made the horrible whatevers. When A encounters B actually nice whatever, they say so, emphasising that they do indeed like it and don't just say so.

That they use 'That's (actually) good/nice/impressive' instead of 'I like that' does not have to mean anything. Saying 'That's nice/...' can be used to express that you like something after all. Yes, I'm aware that it can also be used to avoid having to say 'I like it' because you really don't but don't want to hurt their feelings but nevertheless try to get some distance between yourself and the statement, even when it's just linguistically, which might be precisely why A usually says it that way and now slips in the 'actually' to emphasise that in this instance they really think it's nice and do like it. You may or may not agree with 'white' lies, I don't, but that would not make A's compliment of B's whatever insincere or backhanded in this example (which is not inconsistent with the context OP gave).

(It could also be that A is not in the habit of giving insincere praise, but that A assumes that B is aware that it happens in their society, and since they don't know each other well, uses 'actually' to emphasise that it is meant as an actual praise and not a 'white' lie.)

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Doob said:

I'm aware how 'actually' (or 'considering') can be used in backhanded, condescending ways, but I do think there is a sufficient number of situations where it isn't that I don't think it should be the default/automatic interpretation. It's better to make that judgement when you are present and can directly observe the context as well as the tone/body language. It isn't just about logical possibilities either but real life examples I have encountered. 

Mhm, which is why when interpreting Party A's words, they need to be viewed in light of their behaviour and linguistic habits/patterns.

Edit: to borrow a British term for clumsiness, A could simply be rather 'cack-handed' in how they praise others. Derpy-derpness cannot be ruled out. Again, and as indicated, whether this is the case or a more negative interpretation is more 'correct' depends on A's patterns, which is something OP is probably very familiar with, and which he/she will use to suss intent, if any.

Edited by Madden

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On 4/17/2017 at 9:16 AM, Madden said:

Are you asking if Party A is being a jealous bitch? If so, yeah, for sure. :laugh:

Party A's inclusion of the 'actually' suggests possible condescension towards Party B's accomplishments, via not just lukewarm praise, but praise that is laced with an insult. Party A is trying to create the impression that they are an authority on what is and isn't 'good', and  insinuate that they are surprised that something Party B has done meets their standards of quality, thereby suggesting that they don't think highly of Party B's skills and potential in the first place. The feigned surprise is the metaphorical razor blade in the congratulatory apple. 

Rule #1 when talking to INTJ everything involves people.

Party A is not being condescending towards materials, tools, circumstances nope its all about people. Is there a world outside people? Nope, all is vanity.

Now toss in a junior psych wannabe and watch the social group be contaminated by the humor sense virus.

Edited by Dohavior

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8 hours ago, Dohavior said:

Rule #1 when talking to INTJ everything involves people.

Party A is not being condescending towards materials, tools, circumstances nope its all about people. Is there a world outside people? Nope, all is vanity.

Now toss in a junior psych wannabe and watch the social group be contaminated by the humor sense virus.

I'd be concerned that you might cut your tongue on the sharp edge of your own wit, but you should be just fine, considering that it's actually quite dull. 

Edited by Madden

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There are few instances in which "considering" isn't snark. For example, "Dr. Ben Caron's professional career, world-famous neurosurgeon and now Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is awesome. Considering that he grew up in relative poverty, the son of a single mother, it's near-miraculous."

I have fewer problems with "actually." "I recently purchased a 1,200 page book by an author I did not know, simply because the cover appealed to me. Actually, it was a damned good read."

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20 hours ago, Madden said:

I'd be concerned that you might cut your tongue on the sharp edge of your own wit, but you should be just fine, considering that it's actually quite dull. 

Like a phat sack of bricks.

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56 minutes ago, Dohavior said:

Like a phat sack of bricks.

Well actually, considering the lack of impact despite the effort you exert in trying to swing it, more like 'flaccid sack'. You seem to be short more than a few bricks there, sunshine.

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12 hours ago, Madden said:

Well actually, considering the lack of impact despite the effort you exert in trying to swing it, more like 'flaccid sack'. You seem to be short more than a few bricks there, sunshine.

Winner winner chicken dinner considering you got me right where you want me! I actually did not see that coming!b5dee3b4145650959533281017_700wa_0.gif

Edited by Dohavior

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5 minutes ago, Dohavior said:

Winner winner chicken dinner considering you got me right where you want me! I actually did not see that coming!b5dee3b4145650959533281017_700wa_0.gif

looooooooooool

:laugh:

 

 
 
...... added to this post 1 minute later:
 

LMAO!!!! (can't stop laughing) :facepalm:

 

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