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Thread: A question for the highly educated here.

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Some people just don't like to be asked about their lives; it makes them feel awkward. It's not about trying to "control" the conversation, it's about being made uneasy by the direction the conversation is going in.
    To some extent it's personal, but to some extent it's cultural. I don't think it has anything to do with educational attainments.
    As an example, involving two sweeping generalizations, Americans seem to be much more comfortable than Scots are, in talking about themselves to strangers or acquaintances. I've been made uneasy repeatedly, over the years, by Americans I hardly know spontaneously telling me details about their family and homelife. And I've been made very uncomfortable by Americans asking me to share things that I don't want to share: trivial, harmless stuff like how I enjoy my job or how often I see my family, but not something I want to chat about to a relative stranger.
    Buttercup, I know you're feeling rebuffed, but I can see Jane's point of view - I would guess she feels you're being intrusive and wants you to back away from a particular line of questioning. When you're sitting with someone who is asking for information you don't want to share, it feels like an interrogation. The art of conversation lies in picking up on these cues and identifying territories to avoid in future.

    Grant Hutchison
    That is where face and body language carry important cues that are lost in texting. Many of our youngsters today are missing this.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inclusa View Post
    To the general public, "the highly educated" usually means someone has a Bachelor's degree (at least) or above.
    Still, I have heard that many people with technical diplomas or certificates fare quite a bit better than people with a college degree (but in today's world, you can have applied or practical degrees as well.)
    There are practical degrees above the Bachelor's level.
    Still, should we have both specialist and generalist education?
    My bold. I know people who have both and are doing better as breadwinners than many who have one or the other but not both. In the case of one couple I have known for decades, he has a bachelor's degree in business administration and she a degree in sociology and anthropology with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Both had several years of experience in real world jobs when they got married. They were dissatisfied with their jobs and felt they were on the wrong side of the computers. They attended a technical school for six months and immediately got good starting jobs as programmer/analysts. They insisted that their college and grunt work experiences were valuable in enabling them to do well at the tech school and in their new jobs. Some of their classmates, right out of high school and responding to glib advertising by the school, were going nowhere. I would say that these people are highly educated, from both the academic and practical angles.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    "Better"? What do you mean by that? Closer to sainthood?
    Sorry Inclusa, I misread fare as are. Now I understand.
    As above, so below

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    That is where face and body language carry important cues that are lost in texting. Many of our youngsters today are missing this.
    I think that's true. I was in a pretty fancy restaurant the other night when a young couple came in, were seated (yeah, the sort of restaurant where you're not only conducted to your table but are seated by a team of waiting staff), and immediately got out their phones and started fiddling with them. Occasionally they would stop to photograph the food or each other, and then get back into the phone-fiddling. It seems like there's some sort of social skill missing, there.

    Buttercup is certainly picking up on the signals, though. I'm just concerned that people who are sending some particular signals are being characterized in a negative way: "stand-offish" or having "social difficulties". They're just different, there's nothing wrong with them, and they can be put at their ease by backing off when you pick up the signals. They don't have "social difficulties", they just have different social requirements.

    I have an American friend I took out to dinner one night in Scotland (sorry, this isn't an anti-American thing, it's just that, as I've said, Americans strike me as being much more sharing people than your average Scot). Every time the server came to our table he would ask her personal questions: what was her name, was she a full-time server, what was she studying at university, did she have family close by ...
    Eventually I had to say, "Do you know you're making her extremely uncomfortable?"
    He was shocked and apologetic - he was just in the habit of having that sort of easy chat during casual encounters, and for some reason on that night he wasn't picking up on the tense body language.

    Grant Hutchison

  5. #35
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    Once I attained the age of 50-something, I was content to keep all exchanges with younger waitresses, clerks and other strangers on a friendly but formal basis. It's entirely up to them to inject any familiarity. They often do, but I'm careful.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonM435 View Post
    Once I attained the age of 50-something, I was content to keep all exchanges with younger waitresses, clerks and other strangers on a friendly but formal basis. It's entirely up to them to inject any familiarity. They often do, but I'm careful.
    I guess I kind of split the difference. I'm usually pretty friendly, but I would not be so bold as to start with personal questions like what they are studying at school. If they offer such personal information, I'll respond to it, and I've had some very nice conversations with wait staff.

    On nice thing about getting 50-something is that I can have such a conversation with a young woman and she doesn't think I'm "hitting" on her.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  7. #37
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    Some folks are a little bit like cats and some are a little bit like dogs. Cats usually don't run right up to strangers and like to wait a bit before socializing. Dogs want attention right away. Some cultures can differ in the same respect.

    Further, expectations of university people can be a bit difficult to define. Some see the role of the university as being an institution that will broaden the perspective of its students and inspire them to reach out and socialize with other cultures. Others simply see it functioning just to give training for future employment. And, from what is obvious on some threads at this forum, some see the universities as plotting to suffocate any new ideas that might threaten their jobs and/or the Standard Model. Within my labor union and among those who belong to unions many tend to see the universities as functioning to insure that mass production of new inventions take place by training students to absorb and be able to mimic and design ways to bring that about. We often tell our offspring to "go in there and shut up and listen and don't try to run the class. Just try to figure out how the data being given can be used to make things run in industry or to learn the math that will help us maximize our material, minimizing scraps."

    In the case brought up by Buttercup, it can mean even other things. Some feel their information must be paid for and should not be dealt out for free. Such people would hate this site. Further still, a lot of scientists I know have Aspergers and get scared to death when any stranger asks a question. Or they could be cell phone addicts who only communicate by texting or talking over the phone. That fits a lot of our culture today. I have too often seen entire families out to dinner where no one is talking to anyone else at the table, each of them too busy texting, play video games, talking to business partners, etc.
    Last edited by blueshift; 2015-Nov-24 at 05:30 PM.

  8. #38
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    I ain't been to college, but I graduated from high school in the top 90% of my class.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    I ain't been to college, but I graduated from high school in the top 90% of my class.


    You know, with a little more effort, you could have made that the top 100%.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  10. #40
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    Communication has always been a major issue; unlike what the OP thinks, the university-educated (with Bachelor's Degree or above) is an extremely diverse group (so are people with Asperger's Syndrome or other "different forms of mental functioning".)
    For example, I certainly enjoy classical solo harp, but NOT all university-educated people share this particular taste.
    Just a few questions for the OP:
    1) What do you expect from the conversation?
    2) Why are people uncomfortable about certain issues or why are they uncomfortable about talking to you in the situation?
    3) What is the setting?
    Let's consider the scenario from the OP:

    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup
    Here's an example, relative to these people. "Jane" is a retired school teacher who reads to children, once per week, at local public library. We sat with "Jane" and her husband (retired NMSU professor) during a potluck. Both are quietly eating. It's a POTLUCK; where people are supposed to be sociable. I decided to try and get Jane to talk.

    Me: "Jane, you're a reader at the public library?"

    Jane: "Yes."

    Me: "How long have you been doing that?"

    Jane: "About 5 years."

    Me: "You must enjoy it. I've heard you reading to the kids; you're good at it."

    Jane. "Yes."

    ...

    She answered as briefly as possible. Didn't share any anecdotes. Etc. Kept picking over her food and looking aside (not at me) as though this were a strange conversation, or inappropriate, or ho-hum how could it matter? Rebuffing.

    Here is how that conversation likely would have unfolded where I was born/raised:

    Me: "Jane, you're a reader at the public library?"

    Jane: "About 5 years. They needed more volunteers, and I miss being a school teacher, I really enjoy working with children, so of course I signed right on. Fills in some free time as well. Buttercup, you might consider volunteering?"

    Me: "Well, I'm not so great at reading aloud. I've heard you reading, though; you're good at it."

    Jane: "Oh? You were at the library - when? Wait...I've just remembered passing you there a few weeks ago (this actually happened - and she walked right past me without a word). Still, you might want to reconsider volunteering. I have a terrific time with the kids. One little boy in particular, Jason, is a real firecracker. Ha ha ha... (shares anecdote about Jason, and then maybe another)..."

    That is THE difference.

    I've never known so many ultra-reserved, uptight, socially awkward public school teachers as well. I could never guess the ones I've "interacted with" work, day in and day out, in a public venue.

    Another weird thing about these people is they prefer INDIRECT communication. They don't want to converse with you...but they will gossip and gossip AND GOSSIP behind your back. And they "route information" indirectly. Not infrequently a lady has told my husband to tell me hello, or to call and talk with her if I need something... Why tell him?? Why not tell me directly?

    I just don't get this.

    I don't mean to sound unfair or like I'm trying for a double-standard, but I grew up with blue-collar farmers and factory workers who are socially engaging, funny, caring, expressive. To be continually met *here* with white-collar folks who have these social difficulties just blows my mind.
    Our social etiquette changes quite a bit since the advent of the smart phone (even I fiddle with the smart phone quite a bit), but I don't usually take photos of foods.
    I'm not usually the centre of most conversations at any gatherings, though.
    Socially awkward or so? Needs for socializations differ between people, though.
    From what I read about the situation, some people (including myself) are really irritant when they are in the middle of something and are interrupted.

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