Entering Rainbows, Puppies, and Fuzzy Bunnies into the Conversation

Behind me there's a consultation that's become a heated debate. I'm pretty sure that they're not even having the same conversation.

Have you ever . . . had a consultee get defensive? Perhaps he takes offense to the accusation that his sentence is a fragment. But it's not an accusation--it's a fact. However, before you can explain why it's a fact, he/she sits back and his eyes glaze over and he puts his fingers in his ears and begins to sing, "Of course I know how to write a complete sentence, I'm not listening, I can't even hear you, la, la, la." Okay, well, minus the song.

So what do you do?
-I compare it to a good example in the paper to put the emphasis back on something they are doing "right".
-Consult a source (handbook, another consultant, the assignment), in case it has a clearer explanation or just because maybe he/she would rather listen to someone else.
-OR I talk to the hard stare until I reach a point where I gloss over it and move on (read: fail).

I can't say I'm especially fond of the last option. Any other suggestions? Perhaps I should add some snazzier choreography to my grammar dance?


  1. That's a tough situation. First of all, I'd like to say I always try to mention said rainbows, puppies, and fuzzy bunnies into the conversation at least twice per consultation.

    I've only had one consultation that I can recall where the consultee was defensively denying my grammar facts. I asked her about the reasoning behind her platform. She tried to explain, but then backed down, out of words and confused. I then stepped in and explained where I was coming from, the rules I was building off of, etc.

    She was sedated after that and the consultation progressed as normal with fuzzy bunnies, but looking back I wonder...

    The method I used may have made me too right, too superior, too directively swooping in to save the grammar day after she screwed it up. I don't know...good topic! :)

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  3. While I have never brought up rainbows, puppies, and fuzzy bunnies in a consultation, it could be fun to do.

    As to the question, I have faced this problem a number of times and have no good answer. Elizabeth's asking the write to explain their choice is the direction I lean, but it does not fit all situations and does have a little hint of "come-to-the-board-and-solve-the
    -you-fail" to it.

  4. I usually just slap the writer in the face and say "wake up! I know what I'm talking about." Ok, Ok, I talk a big game, but that's not really what I do.

    I've found that if I drop the issue for a couple of minutes and continue on with the paper, I usually find another example of the error. Then, I just pretend like we didn't have the first head-butting session to begin with and proceed to address the same error but in a new context. Usually, if I come at it from a slightly different angle than the first time, we can enter the discussion again. Most of the time, the writer "gets it" the second time around.

    And I do think that if my explanations are not coming out as clearly as possible, it's always a good thing to consult a handbook or a grammar website in order to get a definitive description of the issue and how to solve it. Sometimes I just don't explain things as well as I'd like, or I'm tired and my own thoughts don't make sense to me. The book can help get me back on track. Never, ever, though, do I mention fuzzy bunnies. They've frightened me ever since I saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Real big teef!

  5. Elizabeth and Zach-

    Thanks. I do think asking the consultee for his reasoning can be a useful strategy. Although, when I ask questions like this, sometimes I end up with an explanation of what is meant rather than what is written. Maybe I just need to clarify and pursue it a little further.


    Ah yes, I think of this as
    retreating and attacking from a new angle, or alternating honey with vinegar.

    As for the fuzzy bunnies, I have no fear . . . since I have never seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I know! How is this possible?


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