Monday, January 5, 2015

What Not To Say...

I've noticed that a lot of articles about "10 Things Not To Say To _____________ (married people, single people, people with kids, your significant other, people with newborns, people without children, people of different ethnic backgrounds, people with or without pets, people who are people)" are popping up all over social media and all I've taken away from these articles is that people are too sensitive, whiny, and self important.

seriously, don't
If you followed all those "rules" you wouldn't be able to say anything to anyone.  I feel like if you can't say things to your friends, who can you talk to?  Strangers? That's a different story, unsolicited advice from someone you don't know is rarely welcomed.

Yeah, it's annoying when you're single and someone asks "Hey... when are you going to find the right person and settle down?" Like the right person is sitting on a shelf in the grocery store waiting to be picked up with your box of pasta, or when you're dating someone you really like and the questions like "So... when are you going to get married?" start... then you walk down an aisle exchange rings and then people think it's okay to start interrogating you about when the babies are going to arrive, if you've invested enough in your 401K, or once you do hear the pitter patter of small kids people tell you how to raise them, pepper you with questions about college funds and prep schools, and it seems like you can't win.

Here's the thing... and it's something I have to remind myself when I'm getting annoyed... people are asking because they care, because they're trying to help, because they're hoping someone can benefit from their experiences... not because they're sadistic assholes trying to bring your sleep deprived state to the brink of craziness and then push you over the Cliffs of Insanity. Your friends and loved ones want you to be happy, they want to be involved in your life, they want to help in ways that they know how.  Sure it might not be what you want to hear, maybe you'd rather have them bring you a casserole or scrub a toilet for you, or maybe hold the baby so you can shower, or take the dog for a loop around the neighborhood, you know as long as they don't set you up on a blind dates or sign you up for a dating site without your permission.

My suggestions? (in less than 10 bullet points)
  • Grow a thicker skin (yeah, that's a douchey thing to say, but it doesn't make it less true)
  • If you want to help a friend, instead of putting in your two cents worth of advice maybe ask them "How can I help you?" or "What do you need?" or "This worked for me... maybe it would work for you" instead of "HEY! You're doing it wrong MY WAY is the ONLY WAY"
  • Recognize that the world is bigger than you and your experiences... and that life doesn't have to be a competition.
  • Don't touch a stranger without permission (don't pet someones hair because you think it's pretty, pregnant bellies are not public property, and not all dogs like unfamiliar people) 
  • Intentions matter, even if the road to hell is paved with good ones.  Meaning if someone is trying to be helpful and nice, don't look for reasons to be angry about it.  If someone is being an asshole, then respond accordingly.
  • Think about what you're about to say before opening your mouth. If it sounds offensive, it probably is.  Trust me any sentence that starts with "I'm not trying to be {insert word here}, but ________" you are accomplishing that very thing without even trying. Same thing goes for "Just saying...." or "No offense, but....." 
  • Understand that different tactics work for different people, and what might be awesome for you might be the worst thing ever for someone else.  You do you, let them do them. 
  • Basically treat other people the way you'd like to be treated, no matter how different they may be from you.  We learned this in kindergarten, let's apply it to real life.