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burning like matchsticks in the face of the darkness
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Monday, January 26th, 2009

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One of my friends recently complained that I quote back passages in emails rather than just paraphrasing.  It's not even always in the context of arguing -- it's often just in the context of clarifying, of "you said (that someone else said) such-and-such ... which doesn't seem to match what you're telling me now."

My instinct is that it's far more precise to quote than to paraphrase (I am forever pulling up emails, etc. when on the phone to Ari telling stories to her).  My friend said it feels like having a conversation with themselves rather than with me, which I can see -- though I have a strong desire to be understood as well as to understand, so I would want to have the opportunity to clarify someone's understanding of what I said, and knowing exactly what it is that I said that they're reacting to seems the most efficient way to do that.

I'm open to disagreement, though.  Does verbatim quoting-back imply SRS BSNS disagreement and thus come across as really off-putting in casual emailing?  Given my particular history with this particular person, I can point to a number of negative associations that my quoting-back-at-you could trigger, but I just assume that most of the folks I interact with intuitively understand this default mode.


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