A co-volunteer called me last weekend to update me on his progress regarding a community program our group was working on. After informing me that he had completed all the tasks assigned to him, he proceeded to offer his opinion on how certain aspects should be changed. Since the format was already set in stone, this was unnecessary and a waste of time.
Nonetheless, he shared his ideas explaining in detail why his way was better. Virtually every sentence began or ended with “I’m just saying…” and it took a great deal of self-control not to cut him off. I didn’t mind the suggestions but the cloaking under the garb of “humble opinion” drove me nuts.
As I put down the phone, I was embarrassed at the numerous times I had dished it out, no holds barred. We have all been privy to and administered unsolicited opinions and advice.
How many times have you heard someone say, “If it were me…”. Or, “why don’t you…?” Or, “Here’s what I would do…” It’s frustrating isn’t it? You want to tell the person that you do not want their brain just their ears.
Unfortunately, that’s a little difficult for us to accept. More so at a time when everyone feels compelled to say what they think. The moment a relative, friend or colleague shares their troubles (or experience), we bury them under a truckload of unwanted advice or tell them how to better it.
Social media makes it worse. When you post something here, you’re opening it up to public opinion!!!
A Huffington Post article on a vegan who got trolled for buying a crying child an ice-cream exposed just how addicted we are (or entitled we feel) to “commenting”.
More importantly, it’s not as harmless as we mistakenly believe. If the back and forth goes on long enough, a bored individual is likely to stir up some trouble to introduce a little bit of excitement in his/her day.
We all know one or more of those, don’t we? Thankfully it’s not us, or is it?
What’s wrong with giving ‘your take’ on things? Think of it as forcing someone to buy something he/she really does not need. That no longer makes you feel warm and fuzzy, does it?
Many conversations at social gatherings have turned into ugly word battles. All because some guests just couldn’t let it go. After some rather unpleasant situations, I’ve solemnly resolved not to get drawn in.
Maybe, we’d stop if we realized that it pollutes the environment and harms relationships.
Giving unwelcome advice is really telling the person that they are not smart enough to figure it out (or handle it) on their own. The worst sufferers here are likely to be our children and elderly parents. Or even our partners.
I’ve realized over the years that my biggest drawback is wanting to set things straight. Or trying to fix everything! But being the fixer is not necessarily a commendable job because it undermines everyone else around.
As my sons became teenagers, I was forced to relinquish control little by little. Accepting that they had ideas and a will of their own helped me approach all other relationships from a different perspective. I promised myself not to offer an opinion unless I was asked.
This was easier said than done, so I learned to listen more than talk. A childhood friend I spoke with after 5 years recently commented that I was always a good listener. He might have felt differently if we had spoken a couple of years ago when I felt compelled to say what was on my mind.
I also learned to ask if help was needed rather than insist I could do it.
The biggest lesson came from conversations with friends about their spouses or children. I learned that they just needed to air their frustrations. And that just listening and identifying (without advising) was more therapeutic than playing the know-it-all agony aunt.
After all, each one of us wants to come away from a situation believing that we are capable and can hold our own.
That is not to say one must go to the other end of the spectrum of being completely agreeable and compliant to be on everyone’s good side… in other words wishy-washy. Because being too nice can make you as unpopular as when you are too opinionated.
What’s important here is to be discerning, respectful, accepting and… smart! Weigh the situation and decide the action based on what’s important–your opinion or the relationship? -CINEWS