Monday, April 22, 2013

Why Are You So Blunt?

My apologies for not posting "It's the Deaf Thing" in a really long time. I would rather to have time gaps between my posts regarding this topic instead of publishing same old stuff over, and over again. I will have to try to keep up with this topic because it is one of the popular topics among my readers. Like always, do feel free to shoot me a message if you want a question or something to be talked about regarding "It's the Deaf Thing". No question is typically too offensive or silly! Do ask away anytime!

Recently, I found a picture that was posted on my friend's Facebook wall, and I just had to share this. It was a clear-cut explanation of how Deaf folks differed from Hearing people. 

What made me laugh about this is the last two bullet point statements: "Be clear if you have a criticism" vs "Use sandwich approach for feedback". 

I grew up in a hearing family. Of course, I adopted hearing tendencies, and had very little understanding of Deaf tendencies. Every time when I hung out with my culturally Deaf friends, they were very blunt, and said things as they were. That bothered me. I felt they were being unkind especially when it came to criticisms. I was so used to hearing's way of using  sandwich criticism. Hearing people felt it was proper to say something nice first then insert a criticism then end on a nice note. It was as if they were trying to soften the blows. I was accustomed to this method. 

If a hearing person was not using sandwich method to offer a criticism then he/she must be an inconsiderate asshole. Right?  In the Deaf world, to use sandwich method was a waste of time, and made no real sense. If you used that in the Deaf world, it was a waste of time to dance around the issue because you were not getting to the point. If you had something to say then say it. It was not offensive at all if you were blunt. Matter of fact, to be blunt helped things to be clear, and clean-cut. If you rambled on, and on (AKA sandwich method) then the point of the criticism was lost. 

I remember when I was a little girl; I pointed at a rather heavy-set woman, and signed, she is fat. My mom was mortified because the heavy-set woman did see me puffing up my cheeks, curling up my hands in claws near my face to show chubbiness, and started waddling to mimic a large person's walking motion. My mom slapped my hands, and scolded me by telling me it was very not nice of me. I did not truly understand why I was being scolded, and felt very confused. I was not being mean. I was just calling it as it was. That woman was fat. My mom had a hearing perspective, and in her eyes; that was very inappropriate. In my eyes as a Deaf person, it was appropriate given the context I was seeing. 

It is often why hearing people feel that, sometimes, Deaf people do not have the best social filter.

It took me a long time to realize that it was not my mom punishing me for being Deaf. She was acting upon hearing norms. She was not educated about norms of Deaf culture. It was not her fault. At the same time, it was also not my fault for using Deaf norms. I was operating on what I knew, and what felt natural for me. I ended up adopting hearing norms, and retained very little of norms that was acceptable in Deaf culture. My Deaf tendencies popped up more frequently when I felt most comfortable which was among my hearing friends. They knew, understood, and accepted that. 

Then I met Stu, my back-then boyfriend/now my husband, and I alternate between hearing and Deaf tendencies. It did confuse Stu especially in the beginning, and he did try to correct me (ha ha ha) when I was operating on Deaf norms. It was a learning experience for us both because I was still figuring out who I was all about back then due to my identity confusion (am I hearing or am I Deaf). Eventually, Stu understood that it was the Deaf thing, and accepted this about me. He understood that when I was being blunt, I was not being critical or uncaring toward his issue he was going through that time, and that it was an act of caring. 

Deaf people don't beat around the bush. They don't dance around the issue. They don't spend their time flogging the dead horse. They say as it is. Yes, it can cause conflicts especially between a hearing and Deaf person. Yes, it also can cause a conflict between two Deaf people especially if there is something that is not too pleasant to be said! 

When you find that you are hanging out with a Deaf person, and the Deaf person is rather blunt with you about something. Don't take it personal. It is a good sign! It shows that the Deaf person feels comfortable enough to include you in his/her world. More often than not, the Deaf person has good intention with what he/she is trying to tell you. I won't lie....there are some Deaf people who are jerks. Just like hearing people. Then again, just like many hearing people, there are more good people than bad. 

Being blunt, and seeing blunt nature among Deaf people can be something of a cultural shock especially if you are not used to it. Just keep in the mind that it is just the Deaf thing


  1. That's really fascinating. Do you suppose the bluntness evolved as an efficiency thing, because even though signing can be done quickly it can be more labor intensive than speech? Also, since you can't work with your hands while you talk if you're deaf it pays to say what you need to say and get back to what you're doing?

  2. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, so I'll be blunt: Mocking people for being overweight isn't call it like it is. It's being an asshole.

  3. Samantha. False. It’s not mean that we made fun of them, it’s how we sign to define who they are which is the deaf norm. It’s not an insensitive comment at all. Unless you really made fun of that person as in discrimination, then it’s not ok at all.

    So get off the high horse you rode on if you don’t agree with the deaf culture or norm. It is how we are and you need to accept us the way we are. Same thing we accept the way you are IE the hearing people. Same thing with you are trying to fix us with cochlear implant, cloning ear, etc. there’s absolutely nothing wrong with us, we can do anything except hear.