Lately so-called well-meaning friends and family have been telling me how to run my life. They have been using various tactics. Which got me thinking about the psychology of telling people what to do.
For one thing, the methods used make a big difference. And whether they are listening to what I am saying, or not saying. Many times I am just telling about the difficult times I have in my life. But I’m not asking for their advice – if I want their advice, I will ask for it. I think they are forgetting the prime “rule” for when someone confides in you. Listen emphatically; don’t give orders.
I think my son has it down pat what to do and what not to do. Certainly if I have a problem with computers and ask him, he will give advice and try to fix the problem. But otherwise…let me give you an example. A few weeks ago I was complaining about all the Toronto public transit subway closures on weekends and despite shuttle buses (which never can hold the high number of subway passengers), it can mess up you getting to where you need to go. All he said was “the TTC have to do the maintenance or they will have to shut down the whole system.”
I’ll come back to that in a moment, but first how other family members have reacted.
This is the one that always gets my goat and I think I stumbled on a way to handle it.
I am talking about needing someone to do the weekly housecleaning and the like – not because I can’t physically do it, but because of my time (a lot of the housecleaning never gets done) and I just don’t like doing it and don’t do a good job. I add in I can’t get anyone to do it because I live below the poverty level for a single person living on my own. So the interference goes something like this:
Why don’t you move into a condo?
Me: Not enough space to garden and I don’t want someone living right on the other side of my walls. (And do they consider that no matter where you live, the place will need cleaning?)
Why don’t you sell the house (no reasoning about where I would move as the condo and the like has already been covered). You would get lots of money to live on for other things.
Then I throw out the kicker.
My ex-husband is half owner of the house.
The silence is palpable.
Back to my son. If you compare his answer to the house ones (and he has never said I should move out of my house), the difference is he offers a logical explanation for the problem but no advice. He doesn’t say something like “deal with it” or “you should…”
So, I will step into the shoes of my so-called advisors with a word of advice.
When a friend or relative confides in you about a problem, unless they ask for your advice, don’t barge in with it.
Just listen emphatically. The person confiding may just need a listening ear at this point in time. In my case, as mentioned before, I do ask for advice and help – but I go to the people who can and/or should help – such as my handyman for house repairs and utility companies and governments who caused the problem in the first place.
If you want to run my life, then you can live it – and that means doing all the things for me that you are suggesting including supplying the funds for them.
And do I really want that?
No. (The extra money needed from somewhere would be helpful, though).
How do you handle unwelcome advice from others? Comments please.
Only Child Writes