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Background

I am blind. I work as a software developer in a company. I hate all kinds of gatherings. If I have a choice, I would spend my time alone with a computer.

Situation

I was attending my company's christmass party. There are series of plays, shows and music that would be performed by each department. When the first performance started, I began to take my phone out to read a book (I am not interested at the performance). Suddenly, a manager sat down beside me. We did some small talk for awhile until he started describing (in detail) things that are happening in the stage for my benefit. For example, when people are laughing, he would stop just to explain why something is funny. I was shocked at this manager's kindness. I absolutely did not expect someone would do such a thing. Although I was bored out of my mind, I acted like I am interested (to show my appreciation). After all, not anyone would take the time to do what he did (even for people like me).

My question is: Is there something I can say to escape this situation without hurting the manager's feelings? I mean, I really am not interested in the performance, not his commentary.

  • 3
    Honest question: why did you even attend the party? Was it mandatory, or during working hours? – AsheraH Dec 23 '19 at 7:20
  • @AsheraH volontary. And my team insists that I go. And I am the only one not going if I say no. – snakeGod Dec 23 '19 at 8:24
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I've been the well-intentioned person you speak of.

In my case, I've had a couple of experiences with this situation. I am friends with a blind man that I volunteered with. In that case, when we started our relationship, I came out and told him, "I have no experience with a blind person. What can I do to make things easier for you without insulting you?" I think a lot of people feel that but are afraid to ask it.

I've also tried helping someone handicapped without their requesting it, thinking "they must be tired of asking for help." It turns out that they didn't need it. But they handled the situation with a great deal of grace. They said to me, "Thank you for the help. I'm OK, really; I can do this by myself."

There are 2 things at play here and I think you would benefit from both of them. First of all is responding with grace, and saying something like "Thank you for the help! I appreciate it - I really do - but don't require it right now. Are you going to be around later? If something comes up, can I ask you?" Just because you're blind doesn't mean you don't have tastes and preferences like any other person. I'd also feel free to say "Thanks! This just isn't my cup of tea" if you feel comfortable with that.

Secondly, and I realize this isn't part of the question, but I'm going stick my big nose in here anyway: even though you detest "required fun", it's a good grace to participate in it. A lot of the IT guys I know hate "required fun" but they do it because it just makes things a little easier for them. If I were to read a book during "required fun", I think my boss would have a chat with me about my manners. So I'd recommend that interpersonal skill - join for a little bit, take part as much as you can, and then leave early.

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  • 2
    I feel like people forcing themselves to "required fun" usually end up taking some of the fun from people actually enjoying it. If I don't feel like it, I always stay at home instead. I'd suggest that here too. That being said, I absolutely agree on what you suggest to politely decline unwanted help. – theSameTime Dec 24 '19 at 9:37
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    @theSameTime Thanks for the counterpoint! As an interpersonal skill, your suggestion is better than mine. I was thinking of potential backlash from the workplace, which sometimes happen if you don't take part in "required fun". That probably makes this a better answer for The Workplace. I'd like to see what others have to say... This is a valuable idea, even if we leave it in comments for OP. – baldPrussian Dec 24 '19 at 12:47

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