notquiteold

Nancy Roman

More Advice – And Why You Can Ignore It

I give lots and lots of advice.

Just as if I know what the hell I’m talking about.

I don’t have any qualifications for all this advice – except that I’m intelligent, good-hearted – and old.

Old people are allowed to give advice, because they have so much experience. Of course, in my case, I’m sort of an introvert and non-risk taker and non boat-rocker. So my experience is limited in some areas.

On the other hand, I’m relatively happy and relatively easy-going – and it seems that lots of other people would like to be those two things too. So I can offer my own little strategies that haved helped make me so.

For whatever it’s worth.

When I was growing up, my mother gave me lots of advice. But as I matured, she always added this caveat.

“I give you advice because I’m your mother and I love you, but you don’t have to take it. You can make your own decisions. But because I’m your mother, you shouldn’t argue with me either. Just say ‘Sure, Mom’ – and then go do what you like. ”

And that is good advice on taking advice.

I’m not even your mother.

So you don’t have to even be polite. Do whatever you like. It’s okay.

However.

(Did you ever notice how often I use ‘however’ as a paragraph all by itself? That’s called STYLE. And I’ve got it up the wazoo.)

However.

There is a kind of advice that I HATE. And so you absolutely should take my advice when I advise you to disregard this advice. And if you give this kind of advice, I have some advice on a better substitute.

It’s those short little pieces of advice that are actually unsolicited, often judgmental, orders.

Stuff like:

Relax!
Don’t Worry.
Try Harder.
Trust Me.

And there are two commands-disguised-as-advice that I particular hate.

CALM DOWN!

Isn’t it amazing how the person who says this to you is almost always the person who sent you off the rails in the first place?

But anyway, there are many times we have the right to be angry. And although there are lots of times when people (meaning: ME) overreact, telling people (meaning: ME) to Calm Down is most likely going to have the opposite effect.

And this was the inspiration for writing this today:

I recently had cause to become a little agitated (unglued might be closer to the truth). I had a cell phone failure. You’d think someones had mugged me, for God’s sake. But phones die. And I am addicted to my phone, and I was going through withdrawal. Most of my anger stemmed from the fact that my cell phone provider was not helpful. I have been a customer for 18 YEARS. Being a little helpful would have been nice.

And at my third trip to the cell phone dealer (and dealer is totally the right word) – I went just slightly unhinged. I wasn’t screaming… I am not a public screamer… but I came pretty close.

And the store manager said this:

“I can see how frustrated you are, and you have every reason to be. And I am going to do what I can to help. But being this stressed out isn’t going to make this problem go away any faster, and it will only make us both feel worse. So let’s sit down and see what we can do to fix things.”

And it worked. I calmed down. Without being told to “Calm Down!”

Which would not have worked.

 

SMILE!

Holy Crap, does this infuriate me.

And have you EVER heard a man say this to another MAN?

And it is very rare for a woman to say it to another woman. Mostly because woman know how maddening it is to hear.

No. This seems to be “Advice” that men say to women.

And here’s my advice to men who do:

DON’T.

Women find this patronizing. Always.

So here’s my alternative advice for men:

If the woman is a stranger there are two ways to go:

  1. If you are trying to pick her up, let me assure you, “Smile!” will not work. Try something else. How about – “You seem like someone I would like to get to know. Would it be okay if I talked to you for a bit?”
  2. Don’t say anything.  Women are allowed to be serious.

If the woman is someone you know, there are also two ways to go:

  1. If she truly looks distressed, and she is a close friend (not just an acquaintance) you might say, “You seem (not ‘look’) a little down (not ‘upset’). Is there anything I can do?”
  2. Don’t say anything.  Women are allowed to be serious.

 

watercolorwomanframe

 

 

 

 

 

17 Comments

  1. It always makes me calmer when a customer service person acknowledges the validity of my complaint. And, I always feel like telling a person who says “smile” to mind their own business. Harrumph

    Liked by 1 person

    • When you are distressed, having it be acknowledged is powerful. It immediately brings down the pain level. And yes, – people who tell me to smile should mind their own business.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Diane

    Love how you incorporated your painting into this post.

    Like

    • Thanks, Diane. Women do not have to smile to be beautiful, and my painting tried to capture that…. I am not the greatest artist but I’m learning.

      Like

  3. Cathy

    I’m sure you’ve seen the collection of photos documenting 4 or 5 sisters (I think 5) throughout 20 something years. While I may be a little fuzzy on the back story, I’ll never forget the comments on Facebook: the majority of them were wondering why the sisters didn’t smile in ANY of the photos and suggested that they should’ve. I remember thinking why? It really irritated me and it wasn’t even directed at me! So you can imagine my response to men who say “Smile” to me. BTW: great painting

    Like

    • Although I do think I am prettier when I smile, and I feel better… it is my decision when and if I smile. Don’t tell me to!

      Like

  4. The “calm down” thing really gets to me most, when used by my son! He is the reason I am usually not calm to begin with, and then he tells me to calm down! I am getting jittery just thinking about it and he isn’t even here right now!!

    Like

    • The people who tell me to calm down are ALWAYS the people who got me riled in the first place!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Christine

    When I first started at the investment company I retired from after nearly 40 years, one of my responsibilities was to direct calls from clients who had complaints to the person who could help them (which most of the time was not me). Since money was almost always involved, some of the clients were pretty upset. My boss at the time told me I should always tell the person that they were right, that they had every reason to be upset and that in their position I would be too. That usually calmed them right down, because it’s hard to stay angry at someone who is agreeing with you, and it made them more willing to work with you in solving the problem. I think the manager at the cell phone dealer must have gotten the same advice.

    Like

    • I remember working at the phone company as a teenager. When people had a long wait, when I finally got to them, I started off with “Thank you for being so patient! You’re terrific!” If they were going to yell at me, they usually changed their minds.

      Like

  7. You sound like me, in fact I could have written this just not as well

    Like

    • Thanks! I have found that pet peeves are often pretty universal.

      Like

  8. Excellent advice. And… did you paint that watercolour? It’s wonderful! 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks, yes, I painted it. I have been painting on and off for most of my life, without much success – until recently. Suddenly this year, I find it all coming together. I’m loving it, and painting twice a week.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s awesome! I just signed up for a six-week watercolour course. I’m feeling very intimidated since I’ve been trying watercolours off and on for the last 30 years or so without success, but… fingers crossed!

        Like

  9. First, do you know my brother? (CALM DOWN! Isn’t it amazing how the person who says this to you is almost always the person who sent you off the rails in the first place?) Second, thank you for this post (!)

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: