Boy vs. Girl in the World Series of Love
November 9, 2010 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Husband vs. Wife. The challenge? "In a typical household situation, does every statement you make or question you ask require a verbal or visual response from the other person?"

Help settle a good-natured argument between me and Mrs. Cool Papa Bell. Let's call it the "Roger Wilco" problem.

* In a typical household situation, does every statement you make or question you ask require a response from the other person?
* In other words, must every communication be responded do in some fashion, as if you were saying "Roger Wilco" to everything?
* "Roger Wilco" is defined here as being verbal (e.g. "Uh-huh," "I got it," or "Yes") or visual (e.g. a nod of the head, a wave of the hand).

The example:
* Persons A and B are in the same room, watching television.
* Person A gets up to head to the kitchen.
* Person B says, "While you're up, can you get me a glass of water, please."
* Person A does not perform the "Roger Wilco," but does indeed return with a glass of water.
* Person B: "Did you hear me?"
* Person A: "I brought you the water, didn't I?"
* Person B: "Yes, but could you let me know you heard me? At least grunt or something."
* Person A: "Geezus, am I supposed to say 'Roger Wilco' to everything? I'm right here. We're not communicating by battlefield radio."

BTW, Mrs. Cool Papa Bell endorsed my plan to ask this question and is eager for responses, because she thinks I'm crazy old galoot and I (lovingly) think she's a harridan.
posted by Cool Papa Bell to Grab Bag (107 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
A's right, B's wrong.
posted by semacd at 8:56 AM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I think 'Roger Wilco' is required. Even if it's just 'sure.' It doesn't require a dance or anything but does require some sort of human noise.

Humans aren't just noisemakers -- we have words so we can converse, not just issue orders. Unless we're unpleasant authority figures.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:58 AM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

I don't know about "require", but it does drive me nuts when my wife doesn't acknowledge that she heard me. It drives me even more nuts when I repeat myself and she gets mad because she already heard me.

Providing immediate feedback for input is a basic concept in designing user interfaces, I don't see why it shouldn't be in human-human communication.
posted by callmejay at 8:58 AM on November 9, 2010 [79 favorites]

B's request doesn't seem that unreasonable- they want to know that they were heard. Is it really that hard to say "Sure" or "Yea" or whatever? Not a hill worth dying on.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:59 AM on November 9, 2010 [16 favorites]

Does person B habitually NOT hear what person A says? If so, I don't think it's unreasonable to want an acknowledgment that person A's request was heard. A nod?

Otherwise, A is sitting there wondering whether the water is going to arrive or if s/he should repeat him/herself.
posted by hansbrough at 9:00 AM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

I think in the example given the glass of water is the "Roger Wilco."

Every request should be acknowledged somehow, whether by verbal acknowledgment or by carrying out the request. But it's also not as clear when you're talking about couples who have been together for a long time. Sometimes body language is the roger wilco. It's not always verbal, the the wilco is there.
posted by bondcliff at 9:01 AM on November 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

Similar to callmejay, I don't know about require, but it freakin' makes me CRAZY when I get no acknowledgment to a request.

So yes. A Roger Wilco is required, in my world.
posted by stray at 9:01 AM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

B's right, A's wrong.

I'm exaggerating — probably I could think of circumstances where an acknowledgment wasn't necessary — and expressing a personal opinion, in any case.

Acknowledging that you heard someone is, in a small way, to acknowledge their personhood; if B (like most people, I think) needs her (his?) personhood to be acknowledged a bit more regularly and overtly than A does, then A would be strongly advised to do the acknowledging anyway.

The idea that saying the equivalent of "Roger Wilco" is like "communicating by battlefield radio" can just as easily be turned on its head: you two aren't machines carrying out commands where unnecessary verbiage should be eliminated if it has no relationship to the fulfilment of the specific goal at hand. You are primarily maintaining a relationship; secondarily fetching each other water.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:03 AM on November 9, 2010 [6 favorites]

It's not required but person B has every right to think it's weird and maybe ask for even just a grunt of acknowledgement. The only rules in a relationship are the ones you both agree on.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:03 AM on November 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

Acknowledging when someone has spoken is just simple respect, and it's so deeply ingrained that most people do it unconsciously. In my head, if I was in this situation and my partner asked for the water, I'd probably just say, "Mhm" absently without even thinking about it. Or I'd say "GET IT YOURSELF, LARDASS," in a way that made it clear that I was kidding and had no problem getting the water. Cases in which I would hear but not acknowledge surely occur but are not the norm.

I think Person A was just tired or testy about something else and let a little thing get to him/her.
posted by hermitosis at 9:03 AM on November 9, 2010

In my household, B is right and A is wrong, because if I don't hear a grunt 9 times out of 10 I won't get the glass of water, and I should repeat myself louder and louder till I get an acknowledgement that I was heard.

YMMV of course.
posted by muddgirl at 9:04 AM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Not replying on occasion, because your mouth is full or you're tired or whatever = understandable.

Never or rarely replying, because what's the point = really rude.

You can usually tell if you're in category 2 when the other person gets really annoyed, assuming the rest of the relationship is doing OK.

(My mother and sister play games like this. I include the "geez, why don't you say you heard me!" exchange in my list of reasons to get out of the house for a while.
posted by SMPA at 9:04 AM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

B's right, A's wrong
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:04 AM on November 9, 2010

I would say A is correct but with the idea that the two of you are heading into a blissful old age together and it is best to get into this habit now before the hearing loss really sets in and you NEED to.
That will make it a bit trickier.
posted by readery at 9:04 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

A Roger Wilco is required in my relationship because it reduces double-requests (otherwise known as "nagging.")
posted by charmcityblues at 9:04 AM on November 9, 2010 [19 favorites]

I don't know what is right, but I'm often person A and I take a fairly significant amount of grief for it. I'm being slowly retrained like Pavlov's dog.
posted by Lame_username at 9:05 AM on November 9, 2010

Oops I meant B.
posted by readery at 9:05 AM on November 9, 2010

I don't think you need to respond to everything, no, but I certainly consider it good manners and unambiguous to respond to a request (as in this instance). It requires a response anyway (the glass of water) so is it that much to ask to acknowledge that the request is being granted?

So I'd consider it correct to respond in that example.
posted by Brockles at 9:05 AM on November 9, 2010

Statements do not require confirmation, requests do. If I asked you a question and you made no indication that you had even heard me, I would repeat myself.
posted by crankylex at 9:05 AM on November 9, 2010 [11 favorites]

Yeah, I think the important part here is whether or not there are times where A doesn't hear B, and doesn't bring the water. If A has consistently brought the water without fail, then I think B can let it pass. However, missing once or twice leads to the whole "I'm not sure if A heard me, should I ask again? I don't want to pester A though, for doing me a favor. Hmmmm, if only A had responded in some way I wouldn't be sitting here worrying!"
posted by Grither at 9:05 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

If A and B are sitting on the couch, and B asks A to hand the TV Guide to B, and A immediately does so, then no, no Roger Wilco is required.

But if A is walking away and B asks something of A and A does not acknowledge B's question, that's annoying. B does not know if A heard B, and won't know until B returns. Roger Wilco is required.
posted by iguanapolitico at 9:06 AM on November 9, 2010 [8 favorites]

I don't think the 10-4 is necessarily required, BUT I do think that B's request is reasonable. If B would like acknowledgment of his/her every utterance, then that's the sort of minor effort that A should be willing to make.

Personal anecdote: I have less than perfect hearing and my wife has the voice of a dormouse, so I've learned to acknowledge everything she says because otherwise she will (quite reasonably) wonder if I've heard her. The acknowledgment is often as small as a tiny dip of the chin or a barely vocalised mhmm. It's not like I always say "10-4, reading you loud and clear." Any sort of detectable reaction will do.
posted by 256 at 9:07 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

If A and B are sitting on the couch, and B asks A to hand the TV Guide to B, and A immediately does so, then no, no Roger Wilco is required.

This isn't really a special case in my mind. If B asks A to do something and A makes a motion to do it immediately then that motion itself serves as a Roger Wilco. If, on the other hand, A is currently fiddling with his watch and will pass the TV Guide in a few seconds when he finishes up with that, then some other acknowledgment is required.
posted by 256 at 9:10 AM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

It's not "required" to say "please" or "thank you," or to wait for other people to exit an elevator before boarding it, or to cover one's mouth when one sneezes, but it's polite. If A wants to avoid the minimal amount of effort it takes to be polite, then go ahead, but it will make people (including B, it seems) think slightly less of A's manners.
posted by xingcat at 9:12 AM on November 9, 2010

If A and B are sitting on the couch, and B asks A to hand the TV Guide to B, and A immediately does so, then no, no Roger Wilco is required.

This isn't really a special case in my mind. If B asks A to do something and A makes a motion to do it immediately then that motion itself serves as a Roger Wilco. If, on the other hand, A is currently fiddling with his watch and will pass the TV Guide in a few seconds when he finishes up with that, then some other acknowledgment is required.

My point was that the immediate response serves as the Roger Wilco. :) The no-response-and-A-is-doing-something-else is where some acknowledgment would be appreciated.
posted by iguanapolitico at 9:15 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I gotta go with Person B here.

The Person A in my house is notorious for not responding to such requests unless they are repeated 532,036 times - and then getting grumpy when they ARE repeated that many times. If only person A would acknowledge hearing things the first or second time (even if the acknowledgment is "no, get up and get your own water, you lazybones"), I ... I mean, Person B, might not feel like such a nag.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 9:15 AM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

We live in a civilization here. How hard is it to say "Yup"? Jesus.
posted by spicynuts at 9:15 AM on November 9, 2010 [14 favorites]

I'm with B. However the glass of water could have been interpreted as a response, so I wouldn't get too upset about it.
posted by valadil at 9:16 AM on November 9, 2010

I'm on the B team here.

Of course, A and B are required to (at least sometimes) use pleased and thank yous.
posted by bilabial at 9:16 AM on November 9, 2010

Person B is correct. In the glass of water example, B could just sit there, unsure whether A heard them or not, and wait for them to return. If A had acknowledged the request, B would know whether a glass of water was incoming (or not) and could then choose to repeat themselves, or get up and get their own glass of water. By not acknowledging the request, A wastes B's time, as B cannot make a decision about what to do next, until A reappears at some unknown time in the future. Or B has to repeat the request, and risk A getting grouchy "Yes I heard you already!". Or B can get up and get their own water when A was already getting it, which is wasted effort. B style behaviour is an optimisation of human interactions :D

In my house, I am B, and my SO is A. A style behaviour drives me insane. I am of the opinion that males are more often prone to A-style behaviour and females more often display B-style behaviour. I have no idea why. Or maybe I just keep hanging around with A-style males.
posted by Joh at 9:17 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think of it as a (possibly egotistical) affront to not be acknowledged in a situation like that. The way I think of it, its similar to saying "you're not important enough for me to acknowledge you as another person, but the TV/cell phone/whatever has my full attention."

It's not like she's a whining kid, saying "hey hey look at me looktameeee!" she's someone you care for and means the world to you right? Give her a grunt at least.
posted by fontophilic at 9:17 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

This isn't really a special case in my mind. If B asks A to do something and A makes a motion to do it immediately then that motion itself serves as a Roger Wilco. If, on the other hand, A is currently fiddling with his watch and will pass the TV Guide in a few seconds when he finishes up with that, then some other acknowledgment is required.

posted by knapah at 9:18 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

The only cases I can think of where a Roger Wilco is unnecessary is if the request is fulfilled almost instantly (please pass the salt) or B can directly and immediately see A's behavior change in a way that's consistent with the request.

The OP's example fits neither of those. A was already walking towards kitchen. B makes request. Nothing immediately detectable results from request, so B is left wondering whether request was heard or possibly refused. That's a problem.
posted by jon1270 at 9:19 AM on November 9, 2010 [10 favorites]

Data point: I really hate it when people don't acknowledge me when I say something. If I say "good morning", I expect at least something--even a pre-coffee grunt is fine, but please give me some signal that you're acknowledging my existence for a second. How hard is it to just say "yup" before getting the glass of water? Or even just nodding that you will? Leaving the other person in the dark about whether you heard them or not puts lots of stress on that person.
posted by Melismata at 9:20 AM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

I have this problem with my son.

ME: Can you please go set the table?
KID: (playing a computer game, does nothing to acknowledge that he has heard me)

So now everyone's annoyed, whereas if he'd simply said "okay", it could've been avoided.
posted by Lucinda at 9:20 AM on November 9, 2010 [7 favorites]

Depends on the lag. If A returns with the glass of water within a few minuets, then a response wasn't necessary. But if B asks A to do something (e.g.) a week later, and then they fail to do so, then that's a problem: there should have been an affirmative response at the time.

This happens at my house, too, between the adults and across the generations. And it makes me CRRRRAZY.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:21 AM on November 9, 2010

On preview: jon1270 nails it.
posted by Melismata at 9:23 AM on November 9, 2010

Once in a while a person actually doesn't hear, or mishears, what was said.

In any case the person that wasn't acknowledged is left mildly dissatisfied and uncertain, if only for a brief period.

Is a simple grunt really too much trouble to avoid that?

The only scenario I can think of right now where an acknowledgment is not called for is where your action immediately shows that you got the message. e.g. They ask for the remote, and you pass it over.
posted by philipy at 9:24 AM on November 9, 2010

I agree with crankylex: questions and requests require acknowledgement. General statements may or may not, depending on context.

It pains me, as I'm definitely an A, but it's always the B who determines the standard of conversational etiquette. I find it exhausting to be conversationally "on" whenever I'm in the presence of a B, but it is what it is.

In consolation, an A may reply to B's requests with any of a number of ridiculous acknowlegements.

"Roger Wilco"
"Roger Roger, what's your vector, Victor?"
"That's a big 10-4, little buddy (or insert ridiculous trucker CB handle)"
"Oh, right ho" etc etc
posted by a young man in spats at 9:25 AM on November 9, 2010

I fall on person B's side, but I will disclaim that my partner gets way wrapped up in his head and may very well actually not hear something I've said while sitting right next to him. We're going on 11 years together and we've long since worked out that I really do need to clarify whether or not he's heard me. I would not be at all confident in that situation that he'd heard me and was planning to bring me a glass of water without some sort of acknowledgement of the request.

At which point he'd come back, I'd reach out for my glass of water, he'd feel badly not to have heard me, and then we'd spend two minutes in a ridiculous little dance of "No problem, I'll get myself a glass!" vs "Sorry I didn't hear you, let me go back!" In the end, I could have gotten myself a glass of water five times over, plus we've probably both forgotten what the hell was going on before we hit pause on the TiVo. A "sure" from him or a "Hey, did you hear me?" from me saves us both a lot of ridiculousness.

So around here, if I have a specific request I do generally expect some kind of acknowledgement, and I believe I offer the same courtesy. I'm less confident that a statement requires an acknowledgement - but I'm sitting here trying to think of something my partner would say to me that I likely wouldn't respond to in any way, and I'm coming up short.
posted by Stacey at 9:27 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a habit of ending questions in a particular way that indicates that I'm expecting a response (usually by ending it in '...yeah?') that has always worked well for me. My S.O. has started doing it as well, and I think it works great (in our case) as far as good communication. For example:

Scenario 1, response not expected
Me: Hey, could you get me a glass of water?
SO: He returns with glass of water

Scenario 2, response expected
Me: Hey, could you get me a glass of water, yeah?
SO: Sure thing. He returns with glass of water

Scenario 3, response expected and I really need to make sure he's heard me cause I speak softly and he has selective hearing and this might be important
Me: Hey, babe.
Him: ...
Me: Hey, honey?
Him: ...
Me: HEY [Mr. Sephira]!
Him: Huh?
Me: Could you get me a glass of water, yeah?
Him: Sure thing.

The end prompt seems to work on everyone, including coworkers and strangers. I think letting them know you're expecting a reply is just as vital to good communication as receiving the answer.
posted by sephira at 9:28 AM on November 9, 2010

I don't think there's an absolute where every single thing the other person says must be acknowledged. I do, however, think that the example given is one in which acknowledgment was necessary. Did Mr. Cool hear her? She had no way of knowing until he got back with the water, and in the interim is wondering if she should ask again, thus seeming like a nag? Get up and get her own water?

If someone ask a question or makes a specific request of you, you need to acknowledge it. That might be a visible signal or an auditory one, but if you appear to ignore it, the other person is going to assume they've either not been heard or deliberately ignored.

Statements are perhaps a little iffier, but even there, I'm having a hard time figuring out what kind of statements someone might make directly to you that you wouldn't want to acknowledge in some way, other than an obvious closing statement at the end of a conversation. Even random observations in the middle of a TV show should get something -- a chuckle, a raised eyebrow, a look towards the person that shows that you were listening.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:29 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Formal courtesy between husband and wife is even more important than it is between strangers. -- Lazarus Long
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:31 AM on November 9, 2010 [10 favorites]

The important part is that from B's perspective it requires a Roger Wilco, so there's no reason to exacerbate the situation further by refusing to give one since it's such a simple and quick thing to do. It doesn't matter whether B is "right" or "wrong" if following through with B's request causes no harm to anyone and reduces friction in the relationship. So I'd comply with B.

That said, I am totally a B.
posted by pineappleheart at 9:31 AM on November 9, 2010

I'm on Team B (and also, I didn't realized I was married to Cool Papa Bell).

For me, the golden rule of relationships is if your partner specifically requests that you do X, you make an effort to accommodate his/her request. This might sound unbalanced but the rule applies to both people in the relationship. Relationships grow on yes and wilt on no.
posted by jamaro at 9:34 AM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

It doesn't matter. Anybody married knows that "A Happy Wife is a Happy Life". Mrs. Cool Papa Bell is always right. End of story.

(I am not Mrs. Cool Papa Bell).

With that in mind... some folks have an unspoken language between them, maybe just a look or a nod - but that's also a form of a roger wilco. So while I'd say a vocalization isn't REQUIRED, some acknowledgement is expected.

Unless you're me outside having a smoke after dinner and Mr. Matty throws the garbage out the door at me - it's a given that someone wants me to take the garbage out.
posted by matty at 9:35 AM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Hah! Lucinda, I do that to my boyfriend. It happens to us because I immediately start taking action toward quitting the game - so I feel like I've fulfilled my need to respond in the same way that someone who reaches for the salt has agreed to pass it. A follow up like "hey, did you hear me?" (authentically inquiring tone) usually helps.

I think that gives a pretty good idea of which side I'm on: I think there's a need to respond. Now, sometimes someone is preoccupied and makes a mental note without responding (or vice versa - agrees and forgets) and, hey, it's your loved one and you can cut them some slack. But as a general rule, yes, you should grunt or say 'yea' or otherwise respond.
posted by Lady Li at 9:35 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

A fondly remembered conversation in my family of origin:

Mom: Come and get it (to Dad), breakfast is REAAAAAAAAAADYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
Dad: *silence* from other end of house
Mom: Cooooooooooooomeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, its getting COOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLDDDDDD
Dad: *chirping birds with early worms*
Me: Comingggggggggggg (er, helping out :p)
Mom: Not you, darling, I'm talking to HIIIIMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
Me: *giggles*
*Moments pass*
*Dad arrives at breakfast table, birds still chirp*
Mom: &^%$$##

So, seeing as how they've been married some 45 years and ongoing, I'm going to go with maybe you'll find a way, maybe you won't but acknowledging a request like water would help since its so awkward to sit there not knowing unless you've figured out through years of observation that you'll get the water regardless of acknowledgement. The rest of the blather can be non verbal or even ignored sometimes (I've seen mom chat happily to the back of dad-glued-to-laptop's head without ever losing it like she did that day for breakfast ;p) Its contextual I think and also how important the content is...
posted by The Lady is a designer at 9:39 AM on November 9, 2010

In a typical household situation, does every statement you make or question you ask require a response from the other person?

In my household, yes. As far as I'm concerned, unless I know if the other person has heard me, I am not certain if I've actually communicated anything. I have a spacey SO who sometimes actually hasn't heard me, enough so that now I want something in the way of acknowledgement but it can be vocal or visual [grunt, nod, whatever].

That said, if I'm needing this, it's simple enough to say "Okay?" and make sure he's heard me if I get no response the first time. Some days I'm grouchy and don't like doing this. Some days he's grouchy and doesn't like the grunt/not requirement. We muddle through okay.
posted by jessamyn at 9:42 AM on November 9, 2010

If someone makes a request it is correct to, at the basic level, acknowledge that request, better would be to either explicitly confirm or deny the request. A request is a question, and a verbal question expects an verbal answer.

If you don't want the back and forth, start framing your requests into demands, there is less of an expectation when the entire conversation can be self-contained in the declarative. But even polite demands for small things can be off putting on a continual basis, and still might carry an occasional expectation of verbal response.
posted by edgeways at 9:43 AM on November 9, 2010

I'm 100% on team B!
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:43 AM on November 9, 2010

I am not an API. I do not do MAIL ACK.

If I screw up a lot, if I were hard of hearing, sure, it would be worth it, but otherwise, have a little faith in me, and some patience, too. I have body language, I would hope you have learned to read it by now.
posted by adipocere at 9:44 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

B here. Acknowledgement needn't be verbal -- anything from a tight-lipped nod, to a thumbs up, to a tossed cushion are all in my playbook -- but it is necessary.

I'm also probably a harridan.
posted by angiep at 9:45 AM on November 9, 2010

We have this discussion often. I'm an acknowledgment is needed person, he's not. It's very frustrating at times.
posted by Abbril at 9:47 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Acknowledging when someone has spoken is just simple respect

Completely agree with hermitosis here, and think it applies to statements as well as requests. IMO it's just courteous to respond. If I don't respond to something my husband says, it's usually because I'm annoyed about something (yeah, not the greatest tactic, but anyway); and if he doesn't acknowledge something I've said, I suspect there might be something up with him. Replying (even briefly) greases the wheels of the relationship and keeps the other person from having even subconsciously to evaluate what a silence might mean.

I've disagreed with my husband over this topic, though, and it's interesting to see it come up here.
posted by torticat at 9:52 AM on November 9, 2010

Oh come on. How hard is it to say, "Okay" or just respond. She's not asking you to respond with a song and dance. A simple "Sure thing" doesn't hurt.
posted by anniecat at 9:54 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it's a short and simple exchange ("can you get me a glass of water while you're in there?") within a short range of space, A is in the right. In this situation there's almost no doubt that A heard B and can comply.

If it's "can you grab me one of those Honeycrisp apples that are on the counter? If we're out of Honeycrisps, then I'd rather some grapes - but could you put them in a bowl?" and there is doubt about whether the person was in earshot, then B is in the right. Because in this situation, there is potential for doubt that the message was communicated correctly, and it would be polite of A to clarify that for B.

Then again, if A has such complicated instructions for B, maybe the polite thing would be for A to get her own damn fruit.
posted by Sara C. at 9:56 AM on November 9, 2010

Benefits of making a response: asker does not need to wonder whether they need to ask again more loudly, or give up and get it themselves, or if for some weird reason what they asked caused some sort of offense. Or if you're going deaf. Or senile.

Benefits of making no response: none.
posted by nanojath at 9:57 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's polite to let others know that the communication has been heard. It has the beneficial side effect of preventing the speaker from repeating themselves. I have this conversation all the time with my SO, who wonders why I won't "give it a rest." It's because I don't know if I've been heard, am being ignored, or need to be patient as results unfold, or if my opinions have been taken onboard and been rejected. A nod, a grunt, the "just one sec" index finger, a polite refusal...*anything* (short of hostility) would be better than nothing. Just some indication to let me know that my words [and by extension my person] have some significance to the other person.

I do agree that the presence of the glass of water does amount to a Roger Wilco, but consider this: As you are walking out of the room, I guarantee that the thought process going on in her head is something along the lines of "Gosh darn it, did he hear me or didn't he?!" It's not so much that getting a glass of water is a big deal, it's more that tiny little spark of frustration that passes through as one debates the pros and cons of shouting after (when perhaps it's been heard, which will probably result in the other person being annoyed by the implication that they are deaf/stupid) versus saying nothing and being disappointed by getting no water when you might have, had you only repeated the request.
posted by Ys at 10:01 AM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

Team B.

One thing that I notice in my own relationship is that when I start treating my SO as something other than a dear friend that things are not so good. I figure if I can apply the same niceties I afford to officemates and friends out in the world to the love of my life that it makes our relationship that much smoother and congenial. Your family is who you can be yourself around, who will (most likely) still love you even if you treat them like dirt once in awhile. But, we all know that there is a breaking point where your grumpy self might just get taken out with the trash. Why are we nicer to strangers than the people that we live with daily?

Basic acknowledgment falls into that category for me. So does thanking them for the chores they do around the house. Noticing when they have been super sweet. Reaching out to them on a bad day even when you've had one yourself and apologizing when you've taken your grumpy attitude out on them. What greases the wheels in society, greases the wheels at home, in my opinion.

Obviously, we are more lax with each other than we are with other people out there but I really think it pays to be extra awesome to the love of your life when at all possible.
posted by amanda at 10:02 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here's another way of looking at it that drives me nuts and may help get the concept across:

The kids are in the basement, watching TV/Playing video games. I yell down the basement - loud enough over the TV that the chances they heard are high, but not necessarily certain.

"Dinner's nearly ready, come up and set the table"

"......." (no discernible sound of things being shut off after suitable pause)

"I said, Dinner's..." *interrupted from below*"I KNOW I'M COMING! (god!)" /teen angst mumbling and stomping

I cannot, no matter how many times I tell or explain or demand it, get them to understand that if they JUST FUCKING ANSWER ME THE FIRST TIME, I won't have to say anything again and they won't get so mortally offended that they are being NAGGED and HARANGUED and OPPRESSED and VICTIMISED by being asked to do something twice because they didn't respond the first time.

I've tried to explain to them that this is how life is: If I want or need you to do something (whether that be something you have to do or even may want to do) and I am trying to explain the concept to you, the only way I know you understand the concept is to respond that you acknowledge the request. To my mind, no response is exactly the same as the request not getting to the ears and brain of the recipient. Besides which, refusal to respond is very much (as demonstrated above) a teenage rebellion thing to do, to my logic.

Sorry to hijack your example, but to ignore the response is crystal clear teenage-style obnoxiousness, to me. It hits a nerve with me, but after thinking about your example to try and remove that element and see this in isolation I just ... can't think of it as anything other than rude to ignore a request in that way. If the response (the TV guide one) can be immediate, then this can count as the response, but a response of some sort is always required.
posted by Brockles at 10:02 AM on November 9, 2010 [11 favorites]

This is not a chore.

It's an opportunity to demonstrate that you like it when your partner talks to you.

Communicating positive things is good and married people should take every opportunity to be nice to each other that they possibly can.

It's like an extra credit assignment--you demonstrate that you're putting in the effort and so you're cushioned from mistakes and fuck-ups in other areas.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:02 AM on November 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

B may have a point, particularly if A is, say, the distracted type and liable to drift off into space/become absorbed in their thoughts (although you seem to indicate that this isn't an issue for you).

Personally, I think it's nice to have a little feedback in my interactions, which otherwise lack a sense of closure. I guess it has something to do with your tolerance for that uncertainty (eg: "Is A going to bring me that glass of water?"), of which I apparently have little.

Also, I think that not verbally acknowledging the request is awkward, like when people hang up the phone without saying "bye."
posted by Hydrophage at 10:05 AM on November 9, 2010

I also think it is rude not to respond when a human is talking to you.

The old expression "familiarity breeds contempt" seems to apply here. Giving the silent treatment can be seen as an expression of contempt.
posted by grouse at 10:06 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Part of this comes from Coast Guard Auxiliary boat crew training for me - safety relies on good communication, and so a response is required in those situations. Thanks to that, I've started to notice other places where communication isn't as crucial, yet acknowledgment is still used to avert problems. The one that currently stands out is my local Starbuck's - the barrista always repeats the call from register to be sure they got it right.

I'm not saying anyone needs to say, "water, right away, SIR!" to a spouse. But that communication frequently averts problems, annoyances, danger, and all sorts of other bad stuff.
posted by ldthomps at 10:07 AM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

It appears to me that some people use silence or intentionally ignoring others as a means of manipulation. One purpose is to try to establish some sort of social hierarchy - like you should feel lucky to get any response at all because it's not a relationship of equals, they are dominant and you are a supplicant.

Another one I've observed is that people who have a short temper seem to very quickly realize that they can use that temper and others' anticipation of their anger as a means of manipulation. So if they've acclimated others to dealing with the short fuse and sometimes silence represents building anger on their part, they can then cause anxiety, put others off balance and maintain the upper hand in any situation by adding a long pause before responding, or by not responding at all. Emotional hell for anyone who cares about them and has to deal with them regularly but it provides a wide array of benefits to the person carrying out the manipulation.

In the OP's scenario that could totally not be what's going on; Person A could be absentminded or distracted or just generally quiet. But if someone in Person B's past has mistreated and manipulated in this way, if it continues to happen from Person A with any regularity it may still be viscerally anxiety-causing or damaging to trust in the relationship. I don't really think there's a right or wrong of it, it's just a legacy of how other people have used silence in the past.
posted by XMLicious at 10:15 AM on November 9, 2010 [7 favorites]

Person A is an uncivilized Morlock who should be thankful that B puts up with their bullshit.

Player B should advance ahead two squares and be allowed to pull a card from the Sexual Favors deck.
posted by nomadicink at 10:16 AM on November 9, 2010 [18 favorites]

Can the requester see your face? Roger Wilco can happen in the form of a nod, a typical eyebrow wiggle, or something else nonverbal.

If requester can't see your face, then some noise is expected (to my mind) -- doesn't have to be a word, could be a clicking noise from the corner of the mouth, could be "mmm", or whatever little household communication style you have.

But yeah - acknowledgment of some kind. Otherwise I'll ask again.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:19 AM on November 9, 2010

If I asked my husband to get me a glass of water I'd expect an answer so I'd know that a) he heard me and b) that he is willing and able to get the water. Cuts down on the potential for confusion and irritation.

If he doesn't answer I'm going to either ask again until he does answer or until I get impatient with wondering and just head on out to the kitchen to get it myself. Both are somewhat less efficient scenarios than a simple ask/answer transaction.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:19 AM on November 9, 2010

"Games People Play" is a slightly risible, slightly brilliant 1960's book about patterns in social interaction.

It defines a "stroke" as an otherwise-inconsequential gesture of interaction, whose sole purpose is to make your interlocutor feel gratified by the fact that he is on your interactive radar.

One of the most famous lines from the book is: "If you are not stroked" by a person as often as your history with that person suggests is appropriate, "your spinal cord will shrivel up."

Even leaving aside the fact that it makes perfect functional sense to have a ritual of acknowledging the receipt of transmissions (for precisely the same reason that radio operators say "Roger Wilco"!) -- how hard is it to loose an occasional "sure" or a "mmhmm" so your wife's spine doesn't shrivel up?
posted by foursentences at 10:21 AM on November 9, 2010 [7 favorites]

Sometimes my husband and I don't hear each other when we're sitting right next to each other. We're not hard of hearing, we just sometimes get wrapped up in what we're doing. Why is it hard to give some indication that you've heard what's been said? It saves the person talking to you wondering if you heard them at all, if they're shouting into the void, if you even care that without a response they don't know how to proceed.

In my relationship, we also do a lot of talking in settings where hearing is iffy (we're each doing a chore of some kind and moving around and walls, wind, rustling of things carried etc may obscure some of what's been said).

We're both B's and we each think we're dealing with an A from time to time...when in reality, the person being addressed just didn't respond because they legitimately DIDN'T hear. The person doing the addressing talks, repeats, eventually says, "Well??" and that's usually the first the addressee has heard of that particular exchange... Oops :)

I definitely think it's only courteous to let someone know you heard them.
posted by galadriel at 10:25 AM on November 9, 2010

I don't require feedback. If she comes back without the water, I'll just get it myself (but then, I would probably have gotten it myself to begin with).

If, on the other hand, I was requesting a defibrillator, or a tourniquet, or some other emergency response device, acknowledgment -- and haste -- would be appreciated.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:34 AM on November 9, 2010


I am 'A', but even if I *do* say 'OK', my wife will not hear it half the time. So she asks again anyway, and then complains I never responded.

Plus when the request occurs after a period of silence, I swear it can take me ten seconds to get my brain into the mode where I can say, 'OK' or any other utterance for that matter. By then I can have *done* the thing, or *thought* the thing. For instance, if my wife asks me, while I am sat at my desk, "Can you tell me the number for so-and-so?", it is quicker for me to just look it up and tell her, than to get my brain into gear to acknowledge her first. My wife still complains... :(
posted by blue_wardrobe at 10:47 AM on November 9, 2010

I'm the quiet one in my relationship, and the dude. And Person A's stance strikes even me as very odd and pretty rude. If someone asks you for something that you're willing to give, but you don't ack, they're left wondering whether they're going to receive the object or of they need to go get it themselves. This is similar to booking events for the future: if Person A says "we have tickets to the previously-agreed-upon-show at 6:30," and Person B doesn't ack, Person A has no idea whether to repeat the statement.

Now, Person B's method of raising the question could have been better. Asking whether Person A heard the request when the request was clearly fulfilled is a slightly accusatory way of dealing with the rudely omitted ack. A better approach might have been to say "thanks," then to draw attention to the fact that Person B didn't know whether she should go get the water herself, and an ack would have been very helpful. But that doesn't change the answer to your question - Person A should ack, and that's that.
posted by Tehhund at 10:54 AM on November 9, 2010

Every communication? No. The situation you described? It would be churlish to refuse to just say "'K," "mmhm" or something. It makes me think of the way a rude teenager treats his/her mother. Who wants to be treated like that?

The only exceptions I can think of are if you are actually angry at the person, and don't want to speak because you might end up saying things you'd regret, or if you're groggy, sick, out-of-it, exhausted, or whatever and just don't feel like speaking or interacting at all at that moment. Aaaaaand, then there's the outlier: those quirky relationships where one party is a non-stop chatterbox, and the other party just becomes more and more silent over the years... one person never shuts up, and the other won't ever open their mouth. Some of these couples seem perfectly happy with the arrangement, and some seem to do it just to piss each other off.

I'm a B married to a B, though. I'd be a very unhappy camper if my husband refused to communicate in such a way that I never knew if he heard/understood/processed basic communication that requires some sort of action or response. I'd probably start doing the same thing to him, so that he'd never know if I was going to take care of that thing that he asked me to do... and I suppose that it wouldn't take too long for him to realize how incredibly annoying that is.
posted by taz at 10:54 AM on November 9, 2010

I'm a B, married to an A. It is so reassuring to have it confirmed that this is a common communication style thing.

Cool Papa Bell: I thinks youse been outvoted here.
posted by bardophile at 11:04 AM on November 9, 2010

Oh god--my sister does this. We'll be together at some family gathering, and she'll be on her laptop, and someone will say something, and she won't acknowledge that they've spoken to her at all--her gaze doesn't even flit up. So they repeat themselves, and the same thing happens. And by the time the party has repeated themselves a third or fourth time, she gets all snappy and annoyed.

I don't think verbal acknowledgement is necessarily required, but I think it's just crazy-making to ignore the person completely. It should be clear, via body language or eye contact or a nod or a word, that you've heard them. This goes double in my romantic relationship because Mr. WanKenobi is kind of deaf, so if he doesn't acknowledgement, I know he hasn't heard me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:14 AM on November 9, 2010

PhoB are you my kid sister? You never know what people are doing when they're on a laptop and often it could be composing a long thoughtfully and carefully research screed on MetaFilter and having to break the thinking of the choice of words in order to reply (when a finger raised or waggled is considered rude) can be a challenge.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 11:22 AM on November 9, 2010

Ha! Could be. :) I hear you about it being difficult to respond when occupied--it happens to me often enough that I have to ask Mr. WanKenobi to repeat himself after launching into a story while I'm on the computer.

I still ask, though. "I'm sorry, I was zoned out; can you repeat that?" is common courtesy, even if it's annoying.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:26 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

In this case I'm with B.

There may be a case for acceptable non-response, but that one ain't it.

Perhaps: you're both in a car, B says 'turn here' and you immediately do. No response required, response was immediately indicated by your action. If the turn was coming up ahead, a verbal acknowledgment would be called for.
posted by mazola at 11:58 AM on November 9, 2010

I think this falls firmly in the territory of "don't be deliberately annoying."

If B knows A is irritated by a lack of response, then B is choosing to irritate A by not responding.
If A knows B is irritated by responding to every remark A makes, then A is choosing to irritate B by demanding it.

The solution is for both of them to make an effort to accommodate the other. People living together need some flex.
posted by endless_forms at 11:58 AM on November 9, 2010

I guess I'm a B in a relationship with a B, and I'm from a family of Bs too. Even after reading the responses from people who side with A, I find A's position in the dispute hard to understand. What is so difficult or exasperating about saying "yep," "sure," "OK," "no problem, be right back" or any other acknowledgment? I find it pleasant not only to receive but also to send these little phatic blips. It's all part of the daily, habitual maintenance of the relationship, demonstrating that you care enough about the other person to acknowledge their presence and their wishes.

I started to write out a lengthy anecdote, but I'll skip to the conclusion: apart from practical considerations (wondering whether the person heard you, etc), being ignored feels bad. When you're trying to interact with someone and they don't even acknowledge your presence, it can make you feel unworthy, subhuman. Ignoring another person's social overture is one of the most degrading things you can do to them (see: the cut direct). You may say that a request for a glass of water is not a social overture, and A is not ignoring B; A is busy fetching water for B. Nevertheless, B still has the social/emotional conditioning that makes the request feel like a social interaction and non-acknowledgment feel like being ignored. You may say that B should be secure in knowing that A loves her (They're married! A always brings water upon request!), but for a moment after A leaves the room without acknowledging B's request, I think that some non-rational part of B's brain is left wondering, "Why did the person who loves me just treat me like someone unloved?"
posted by Orinda at 12:06 PM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

Yes, a response is polite! I'm with team B. Even a grunt is nice!
posted by two lights above the sea at 12:19 PM on November 9, 2010

I agree with those saying that requests need to be acknowledged immediately, but statements should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Because some statements are passive requests, thus requiring a response, and some are just statements, that may or may not need action.

ME: (playing a videogame) I fucking hate games that take away all your weapons at the end of every level. I worked for those. I should get to keep them. Seems like lazy design.

SHE: (silence)

That's fine, I wasn't soliciting input or requesting action. I just wanted to moan aloud into a sympathetic ear about a trivial irritant. I do not feel unacknowledged by her silence.


ME: (standing at door holding the shopping bags) It's really pouring down out there.

SHE: Do you want to wait to go grocery shopping until the storm blows through?

In that case, my statement was actually a contextual request; grocery shopping was on the agenda, we were getting ready to go, but given the weather I thought it best to seek input and perhaps modify our intended actions.

Some statements ALWAYS require a response, though: "I'm going to bed." "The cat is out." "Your hair is on fire." These all demand immediate attention, whether from politeness, feline logistics, or immolation avoidance.

So when in doubt, respond. Also, experience has taught me that, "I'm sorry, I wasn't listening. What did you say?" is a MUCH better response than flipping a mental coin and randomly picking an answer to disguise the fact that you haven't heard a word she's said in the last three minutes. Honestly admitting that you really were paying more attention to $_RANDOM_DISTRACTION than to her is in the end less unpleasant than accidentally agreeing to something that you have no intention of following through with.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:21 PM on November 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

Aside from the feeling of being ignored and the mild bad/sad feeling that causes, there is also the following non-emotional reason for irritation: cognitive cost.

I've emitted a ping and I'm sitting here waiting for a response, and my systems are all tied up until I get the response-ping that will free me to go back to whatever I was doing.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Looking up from my work/whatever, ears cocked, ready to receive the response ping. Waiting. Precious moments of life are draining away while I'm locked into waiting-for-response mode.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:35 PM on November 9, 2010 [9 favorites]

I believe B is "correct" - or at least more healthily socialized - even though I sometimes find myself acting like A. Verbal cues and feedback are important to most people, even when they know each other very well. Withholding those cues tends toward seeming either passive-aggressive (if consciously withholding them) or aspergery (if unthinkingly withholding them).
posted by aught at 12:42 PM on November 9, 2010

It goes both ways, A should reply but B shouldn't get too bent out of shape when A doesn't (unless it's some kind of real emergency). The problem with not answering is it can be seen as hostility towards B. So, A should probably work on answering more often and B should be more accepting of A's human foibles.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:46 PM on November 9, 2010

If it's not immediately clear whether or not you heard (like pass the salt), it's polite to confirm. Unless you're some kind of robot that always hears every request and always fulfills them -- but assuming you're human, you should do the polite thing and at least grunt.

Why assume the other person can read your mind?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:01 PM on November 9, 2010

A response is nice, but clearly the request was granted and that's all that matters. Or, in other words, it's not worth getting bothered about.
posted by ob at 1:10 PM on November 9, 2010

I think some translation may be in order about how Party A may feel.

"Were you really so anxious about getting the glass of water that you needed to not only have it in hand but also have a progress report about getting a glass of water? Is there a fire, or a control issue?"

Yes, there is a cost. The cost is that I have an additional overhead of "oh and I have to also follow this thing." If you're an A, actions speak louder than words. Maybe my throat hurts. Maybe I really do not want to break my concentration, because you're interrupting me. This is the glass of water you requested. I don't mean to be all Zen about it, but placing additional verbal requirements on top of the request can be ... emotionally cumbersome. Bunches of have-tos tend to be either straitjacketing or hoop-jumping. This tempts the human urge towards infraction-tallying.

Unless I'm the absent-minded professor, why assume that I ignored your request?

This is not a wooden shoe. *tips over the glass of water with his foot and walks out*
posted by adipocere at 1:16 PM on November 9, 2010

A response is nice, but clearly the request was granted and that's all that matters.

Speaking only for myself, I would rather have a response from my partner and a denied request than the opposite.
posted by grouse at 1:16 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I actually use "Roger" almost always in these situations. I wish Mrs. exogenous would as well, because she's a bit hard of hearing so I'm not always sure if she heard me.

You might be interested in knowing that "Wilco" stands for "will comply." I don't say "Wilco."
posted by exogenous at 1:36 PM on November 9, 2010

In case somebody is keeping score in this round of the world series of love, I'm saying A.

Exogenous is onto something. I say the best thing to do would be to continue your good-natured game. You can always say "roger" or "roger wilco" or "BLOOP" or "meep" or "10-40." You both win! She gets her roger, you get a small morsel of humor every time you say it.
posted by lover at 1:48 PM on November 9, 2010

Just to add my vote, yes you have to acknowledge. I like to say 'ack' but my non-geek wife does not like it.
posted by d4nj450n at 2:03 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Everything gets a response whether you intend one or not. You are responding to your wife with silence. That communicates something to her she doesn't like: that you aren't listening.

It's up to you, but I don't think it's a huge problem to work on responding with something other than silence.
posted by PsychoTherapist at 2:35 PM on November 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

I am married to a "person A"! My husband often responds to my remarks with silence or will do something I ask, but not verbally acknowledge that he's going to do it. I've mostly gotten used to it. But sometimes I have to say "I'd like a verbal response with that!" It's not a big deal in our relationship.
posted by MorningPerson at 4:09 PM on November 9, 2010

I think it's polite to respond, and it really wouldn't take that much extra effort on A's part to acknowledge the request, so there's no reason not to do so. I know I would feel ignored and a little put out if I were B in this situation, even though A did end up bringing back the water.
posted by you zombitch at 4:12 PM on November 9, 2010

This is too funny. Lise Winer, a Canadian linguist, wrote a book a few years ago about language use in my country, Trinidad and Tobago. An anecdote from the first essay in the book points out how culturally dependent this kind of response is:

"A second example occurred while I was at a friend's house, back in Canada. As I was washing the dishes:

Friend: Try not to let the water run too much; the ground is wet and the sump [drainage pit] might not drain.
LW: (runs water into bowl to use and turns off faucet)
Friend: (pause) That wasn't a criticism...

My friend thought I was angry because I had not said something like, "Oh, sure, okay," to indicate that I had heard and understood, and was not taking the comment as a criticism. My lack of verbal response was interpreted as resentment or anger, which it certainly would have meant a year previously. Only on thinking back and checking with Trinidadian friends in Montreal did it become clear that I had "absorbed" (i.e., learned "field dependently") a Trinidadian behaviour pattern, i.e., not responding verbally to a command but simply carrying it out."

When I first read that, I had never noticed anything like this and was a little sceptical of the whole thing. This thread has convinced me. While I'm more or less on Team B, and think giving some kind of confirmation of message receipt is probably, theoretically, the right thing to do, I'm sure I don't always do it or notice/care whether other people do, and the conviction and near-unanimity of the answers here is just astonishing to me. I wonder how come it's this way?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:58 PM on November 9, 2010

I'm with the young rope rider on this one, and decidedly on the B team here. Aside from everything else, 'sure' or 'no problem' takes ZERO effort to say, and, hey, you're communicating with your loved one. That shouldn't be a chore, it should be something you relish. It's also a good chance to try out various nicknames to see if they'll stick:

No prob, honeybear. Sure, thunderbottom. Anytime, mein fuhrer.

Some of these get more positive results than others.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:23 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Unless I'm the absent-minded professor, why assume that I ignored your request?

Do you have absolutely perfect hearing, every time, in every circumstance? Do you absolutely always hear a request and fulfill it, never having anything else you were doing that took precedence? Do you never have instances where for some reason you haven't heard or done something that was requested? Not ever? 100% of the time, when someone asks you to do something, no matter the circumstances, you do it?

That seems pretty unrealistic to expect of another human being: that they never have anything of their own to do, that they are always and forever available immediately for any little thing I might request.
posted by galadriel at 6:14 PM on November 9, 2010

A all the way. If A consistently delivers on requests from B then B should expect that she has been heard even if there is no acknowledgment. Also, battlefield radio LOL.
posted by vegetable100% at 7:20 PM on November 9, 2010

Communication is important, but it doesn't have to be verbal. Perhaps the two of you could devise a system of hand gestures. Or dance moves. Or smooching sounds.
posted by beandip at 7:22 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Team A! Why would B ask "Did you hear me?" at all if the glass of water was in hand? It'd be different if A asked when B hadn't yet returned with the water.
posted by emeiji at 9:37 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm split on this one - sometimes (as person B) the suspense is killing me... will there be water? or no water? oooh.... But I'm getting better with the realization that it really doesn't matter. If my darling husband A steps back into the room without water, I say "oh, no water? You must not have heard me, could you grab me a glass of water, please?" and he goes and does that. The only conflict is in my head right after I ask while I'm waiting to find out if I get my water soonlater or laterlater - so it's a decision not to care, because he will take care of me and there will be water (+/- 60 seconds).

For something longer-term, yes I might ask for confirmation.
posted by aimedwander at 7:40 AM on November 10, 2010

Great question. I'm totally with B on this one. All of my long-term relationships, including my marriage, were with musicians so I've had partners with actual hearing loss. Without a response, I couldn't be sure I was actually heard. But I think I would feel that way in any circumstance -- verbal request warrants response.

I'm genuinely curious: what's the cost to A? Why is it bothersome to make a short reply to acknowledge the request?
posted by Majorita at 10:10 AM on November 10, 2010

I really don't think it has anything to do with the water like people are making it out to be. The issue is the sentiment communicated by person A intentionally failing to acknowledge that B has spoken. The same situation would exist if the message communicated wasn't a request but was simply commentary or general griping or any of the other things that people say to each other.
posted by XMLicious at 10:18 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all of your answers. I lost this round. Harridan 1, Morlock 0.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:52 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

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