“I’m Sorry, But I Simply Can’t”

A great post about dealing with manipulative people with agendas:

Think of it as a form of rhetorical self-defense. By not offering an explanation, you’re keeping them from getting a grip on you. If you offer explanations and equivocations out of a desire not to seem rude, you’re just opening yourself up for them to take advantage of you. It’s one of the tools that manipulative people use against you.

Worth reading.

14 thoughts on ““I’m Sorry, But I Simply Can’t””

  1. This technique is immensely useful for dealing with women in relationships, when they’re being entitled or otherwise unreasonable. Don’t explain, don’t argue, don’t apologize. “No, that’s my answer. Full stop, have a nice day, talk to me when you’re rational.”

    Unless you do something genuinely bad. Then you owe her an explanation and maybe even an apology, if it’s truly awful enough. Just don’t let her turn it into a blank check. If she tries, back to “No. It’s not a blank check”.

    But usually she’s just testing you boundaries to see if you’re man enough to say no, in a mature way, without being an asshole or a pussy. If you demonstrate that you are, she’ll like it.

  2. Don’t complain, don’t explain — Henry Ford II

    Over the years I have learned to detect manipulative people easily. And we are talking about strangers in this scenerio – if he person is a long term relationship I think an explanation would be desirable but still not necessary.

    Lets say it is a long time relationship and the person wants to borrow a good deal of money. As soon as you start “explaining” you are on the defensive.

    If you don’t want to do whatever they want you owe no one an explanation.

    So I guess it depends on the situation but even then if the person is a relative stranger no explanations are ever required.

    When I had a business I would occasionally get cold calls from people selling dubious “business deals” – I figured if they have to make cold calls right off the bat it’s more a deal for them then you.

    So my favorite hook they would try to use on me is So you don’t want to make money do you?

    Me: No

    I suppose my favorite return, and not made by me but my one time Finnish business partner – who wanted a “free” weekend in Tahoe by subjecting herself to a boiler-room atmosphere of time-share salesmen, finally told them, “ If this is such a good deal why do you have to try so hard to sell me?

    Don’t give them an in.

    Don’t let your ego cloud your answer.

    They way I view this is that honorable people would not want to put you in a defensive position, and if they are not honorable you don’t have to feel defensive.

    As others suggested I suspect women are put in this position a lot.

  3. Yes, when that loud shirtless guy approaches you in a drugstore parking lot and says he and his girlfriend lost their luggage and can you give them a ride to the airport, and he talks so fast you can’t think straight and it takes a real effort to disengage from him and look around the parking lot, then you go right ahead and listen to what he says and respond to his questions. Because he just needs a little help and you’re a good fellow who wants to help, right?

  4. If I can’t win the argument … well I just won’t play. A cowardly approach.

    And one that would drastically reduce the comment flow at Chicagoboyz.

  5. As a DI friend of mine used to say (in the appropriate DI tones)…..”I don’t mean NO; I mean F___ NO!” It works, at least for him.

  6. PG Wodehouse advises never apoligizing (and I, myself, would add “never explain”):

    “It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort of people take a mean advantage of them.”

  7. @Mike Doughty – I’d expect the inflection and vol have a lot to do with it too ;-)

    @Pengun a rather gutless response considering how you like to “hit and run” on this blog

  8. If only someone had explained this to Manti Te’o.

    I was at an SC football luncheon today. There it was explained why he went to Notre Dame instead of Utah or SC. It would have been illegal if SC did it.

  9. I enjoy the Manti Te’o controversy. I totally dislike the “up close and personal” stuff that is broadcast about sports figures, politicians, game show players, singing contest contesters, etc. etc. etc. It is all too personal. Winning a football contest should be decided based on football skill not PR skill.

    So I laugh at an UC&P based on a total lie. If it works for the President why not a kid from Notre Dame.

  10. In response to an inconvenient request or importuning demands, I sometimes sometimes use “No thanks, I’m all set.”. It leaves the other puzzled and disarmed, because the response is non sequitur, and confounds the beseecher, implorer or pest.

  11. Sometimes, though – I use the ‘total information bomb’ response to great effect. That is, I explain in great and excruciating detail exactly why something can’t be done as the inconvenient requestor demands. When properly deployed (usually as a media rep, or as an AFRTS detachment program director), the requestor is usually left with a stunned expression, and after a five or ten minute monologue from me, usually very, very sorry that they had even asked.

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