Sunday, December 22, 2013

Unsolicited Advice

"Don't leave your handbag there, Ma'am!  it's so unsafe!" a woman said as she huffed past the mall bathroom stall.  I was trying to go to the bathroom and give my toddler a chance at the potty and I wasn't really in a listening mode.  The handicap stall was taken so I had just left the stroller with my purse right outside the stall we were using.  The bathroom was empty except for us the handicap lady so I figured we were fairly safe.  I just ignored the comment and moved on.

"Do you need to potty, love?" I asked my son.  "No.  No peepee," he told me.  Since he had just gone fifteen minutes before, I wasn't too worried about it.  We're about 2 weeks in on the potty training and I trust his judgement.  We headed out of the stall to the stroller, washed hands and headed for the mall playground.  But the advice just kept on coming.

"I've had four kids and sixteen grandkids," came a gruff voice from behind, "and take it from me - The only answer to 'do you have to go to the potty' had better be yes."  I stood there surprised for a minute.  "Oh, well, thank you," I stammered, "but he just went a few minutes ago.  He should be fine." I tried to force a smile.  "Yeah, well, you might want to try again," she said under her breath as she walked away.  

I pushed my son another foot before I felt another tap on my shoulder.  "I've had a handbag stolen, you know, and it's such a nightmare.  Never ever leave your handbag unattended like that.  Always take it with you and hang it on the hook," said a silver haired sixty something woman.  "Will do.  Thanks," I said hearing the edge in my own voice.

I was irritated, at least for a moment.  But as I pushed my son's stroller through the mall I realized that these women, however pushy, really were doing their best to try and help me.  They wanted to share from their experiences to prevent something awful (Wet toddler undies!  Stolen wallet!) from happening to me.  I wondered if they knew how they came across.  I wondered if they realized that their approach made people not want to listen to their sage advice.  Probably not.  

While I can't change how they come across, it certainly made me think about all the times I may have offered people unsolicited advice.  I hear a friend sharing a problem and I think, "I know how to fix that!" and jump in with my two cents.  The two women I met today helped solidify my view that most people simply don't want to hear it.  I don't think any of us really want someone to tell us that our instincts or decision making skills are off, no matter how well intentioned.  

Do you ever give or receive unsolicited advice?  How can you be sure to keep your opinions to yourself unless someone asks for them?  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...