So, I am the person who has the best clap back about 10 minutes after an interaction has ended. In this age of everybody sharing and offering their opinion, as I do for a business, I have had to prepare for some quick go-to responses.
I have never experienced as much unsolicited advice or comments as I have since I became pregnant and became a mother. People telling me how to deliver, what I am carrying (come on now, it’s a 50/50 chance), and even people telling me how to nurse. Now, this may all seem lighthearted and innocent, but the repetition became overwhelming. Unsolicited advice pushes one’s personal opinions and reflections onto another; it makes things about them rather than the person they believe they are helping.
I recently experienced a complete stranger offering an unsolicited comment at a point of frustration.
So, I was in the grocery store and I unavoidably had to bring my 3-year-old with me, something I normally try to avoid at all costs. Everything that I put in the cart was a toy for her. She grabbed an avocado. Sounds innocent, but she started to lick this avocado and you can imagine that, as a germaphobe, this is killing me. I took the avocado; guess what happened…she screamed. I returned the avocado with the clear statement of “Do not lick!”- she understands this, please do not say she is too young. She cooperated until we got to check out then guess what? Lick, Lick, Lick. So, I chastised her in front of the clerk.
Clerk: You must be one of those mean, strict parents.
Me: You do not know the back story to comment on my parenting skills.
Clerk: blink blink
Me: Have a wonderful day.
“Don’t push me cause I‘m close to the edge. “
~ Grandmaster Flash
Now, I could have given her the back story, but I did not have the energy, so I made it clear to her that she had imposed and made an unsolicited and unnecessary comment. That day I had a reasonable come back, but why was I internalizing this so much? I felt a little guilty for being so short, but she made the faux pas; I had to let that guilt go.
Now, in the realm of etiquette, offering unsolicited advice or comments is an offense of the person who offered it, so how should you respond? Do you respond with a polite phrase, do you try to explain yourself, or do you consider the source? Because the person who offered the advice is the offender, you do not have to make yourself unconformable to ensure they are content in this matter. I can offer some easy and more polite go-to phrases for those who just don’t have the time for a quick clap back:
Thanks for sharing what you would do in this situation? This makes it clear that just because the other person prefers to do something one way doesn't mean it's right for you.
2. That is an interesting perspective, but my experience has shown that this way works well.
This lets that person know that you have done this in the past and your experience can benefit this situation.
3. That's not actually in line with my values.
This is very popular around the holiday season. There are many religious beliefs and customs that not everyone follows. Things like, “Why don’t you celebrate (insert holiday)?”
So, in conclusion, I know that this post was really therapy for myself. I hope that you can use some of the tools I have gained along my journey. We all wish people would mind their own business, but this is not possible in a world of know-it-alls (self-included) so learning how to handle the matter swiftly and directly can help cut back on the annoyance. Consider the consequences of the clap back, is it your job or checking the intrusive stranger?
Design your self...