Monday, July 14, 2008

cold fuzzy, warm prickly

Now for something different...

You've no doubt heard of the distinction between warm fuzzies and cold pricklies, but has it ever occurred to you that these four characteristics might combine differently.

If we take the warm/cold distinction as being a matter of emotional habit, roughly the degree to which one allows others' joys and sorrows to be significant in one's own life, then the fuzzy/prickly distinction might be a matter of vocal habit, whether one is more prone to be comforting or to express criticism.

As with most such gradients, most of us probably fall somewhere near the middle on both counts, being both moderately open to others' concerns and a mixture of comfort and criticism. Statistically, this is known as a normal distribution.

Considering the neglected corners of the grid formed by these two axes might help to illuminate the situation.

A cold fuzzy would be someone who keeps others emotionally at a distance, but is inoffensive or even noncommittally supportive. They may honestly wish you well, but without being really engaged in doing so.

A warm prickly, on the other hand, would be someone who engages quickly and powerfully, but who is just as quick to criticize you for what you're feeling (and therefore dragging them into), or simply for reacting differently than they think they would under the same circumstances, even if you're being upbeat.

As someone recently reminded me, it takes all kinds to make a world.

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