Telling others what to do

I feel most of us know people who are like this.  Bossy and always telling other people what to do.  I always wonder why people think they have a right to tell anyone else what or how to do something.  Unless asked of course.

In some normal conversations when you are talking to someone, venting maybe, you aren’t always asking for advice, you are just talking.  What makes that other person feel they have to “fix” it for you?  Offering suggestions when you didn’t ask.  Or if you are doing something, why would someone point out to you that you are doing it wrong?  What makes certain people feel like they can tell you “how much soap to put in your dishwasher?”  My mother told me one day “I wouldn’t use that much soap” and it made me feel like I was 10 years old and I just dumped a bunch more in!  I’ll show you I thought.  I’m 50 years old and I’ll put as much soap in MY dishwasher as I want.  Thank you very much!!!

Or if someone is having a problem and I’m talking to someone about it and they say “it’s all thier own fault”, they should do X, Y and Z.  No talking things over, just being judgmental and overbearing and yes, bossy!

I have told my kids what to do in their lives but only when they lived with me.  Since they have both been living on their own, unless they ask me for advice or my opinion, I keep my smart alack comments to myself.  It’s none of my business what they chose to do.  Jason called me one day a few years ago and said to me “guess what I got” and I had no idea, he said “it’s something I could never had gotten if I lived in your house” and I thought “oh dear lord no, a motorcycle!!!”   But I never said that.  I said “oh, I’m so happy for you.”  I didn’t want to rain on his parade.  Why would anyone?  Just because I HATE motorcycles, that is not my choice.

So, are you a teller of everyone what to do????

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10 Responses to Telling others what to do

  1. SKL says:

    When it comes to people I know well enough, I can definitely be judgmental. I have done the “she should do X, not Y” behind people’s backs – but only in rather eggregious situations. And I have given “advice” outright to my younger siblings, who in my mind have never grown up. Usually, though, it’s in a conversation they start and it seems to me they want my opinion (though that may not actually be true). In other situations, I usually use questions and general observations to get the other person to see my point of view. Like, “have you tried X? I’ve noticed that when I do X, I get the outcome you want.”

    Over the years, I do this less and less, because the fact is, it doesn’t make any difference anyway. People have to make their own mistakes – and I still have a lot to learn myself. Yet, for so long, giving advice was the way I showed caring, so it’s hard to just say nothing when I see someone feeling unhappy and I have some ideas on how to fix things.

    I was thinking the other day about how giving advice online is so different from giving it in person, but maybe it shouldn’t be. When someone mentions in person “I don’t know what to do with my kid, he’s such a handful,” we know she probably doesn’t want our analysis of her kid’s problems and what she should be doing about it. She just wants a sympathetic sigh and helpless grin, or maybe even a story about how awful our own kid is, to make her feel better. But online, when someone posts a personal dilemma, the readers seem to think that’s an invitation to judge and tell them what to do. Why the difference? I think there may be a disconnect between what the writers say and how the readers interpret it – because I’ve seen many instances where the blogger has been surprised and hurt by the comments received. (Once I made a light-hearted post in which I asked “am I crazy or . . . ” and I got trashed and one of the posters even said “I think you are crazy” and meant it. Well, hopefully I learned that if someone asks “am I crazy” she does NOT want a yes answer under any circumstances.)

    I also think it’s easier to tell people what to do in the safety of blogland, because neither side knows how she stacks up to the other side. Each of us holds back our greatest weaknesses, so we feel safe acting superior enough to tell the other person what to do. In person, I know that if you’ve gotten this close, you’ve seen that I’m far from perfect, and I’ve seen that you are a good person who might be hurt by my cold analysis of your faults. Also, I think there is a subconscious assumption that nobody takes things personally on the Internet – at least until we are the victim of an online thrashing. Even then, I think it’s easy to forget the person on the other side is just as human and sensitive as we are.

    I guess I got off on a tangent, but I was connecting this post with my comments on the smoking post. I guess I was telling people what to do, which is uncalled for, but I didn’t see it that way when I was writing my comments. I just promised myself the other day to be more mindful, yet here I am again.

  2. TiredMom says:

    My sister is one of those people. She comes in and takes control of every situation (I’m a control freak and it reall pushes me over the edge). She bosses peopel around and pushes her point always. Drives me insane!

  3. SKL says:

    Speaking of sisters – my sister is very set in her ways and thinks we all should be as well. She gets this “look” whenever she hears I’m going to do (or have done) something she wouldn’t do. It’s like she feels she needs to approve it before it goes forward. NOT!

    I do have a friend who is all about what everyone else should do. One gets used to it after a while. I just say, “remember, we are very different and while that would be perfect for you, it wouldn’t be the best for me, but thanks anyway.”

  4. jderickson says:

    Yes I’m a teller. But now I can say that’s what I get paid to do so technically I’m a professional teller. I’m not so much bossy as I am constructive. I might just over do it sometimes. hopefully nicole won’t read this. My motto is work smarter not harder. my way is usually smarter. But when it comes to over using something I may go a little overboard sometimes

  5. Liza says:

    One of my grandmothers is like this and it drives the rest of us crazy. She will just say so and so should just do this and so and so should just do that and that’s it! No compassion, no love or caring. There are times there’s more involved in making a decision of importance.

    Also, sometimes you are just talking and like Joy said, not asking for help or advice but you can’t really talk to this one about anything because she will just butt in and give her two cents. The funny thing is though to other people, she’s nice, she’s compassionate and rational. But it’s almost like to us, her family, we have to listen to her crap. And we do because what else are we supposed to do? She’s our grandma and for the most part she’s good. She’s just got this horrible habit of always being in the right and always knowing everything about everything.

  6. Tessa says:

    I use to be bad at telling my friends what they should do when they’d tell me their problems or dramas. I am an advice giver, but I have gotten much better realizing that it pushes people away. I am very, very close to my friends-they are like sisters, so it gets really hard to hear of them getting hurt and not tell them how I see it or how to handle it better!

    If a friend constantly tells me about a certain problem or goes on and on about one, then I do give advice. And really, you got to expect the advice if you are complaining or venting that much! If you don’t want advice, then stop venting about it and figure it out on your own. But if it is just a few times or they need to talk, I listen and try to be understanding and relate to them.

    I think when people are very judgemental and critical of others problems, we all know those people, it is because they are unhappy and take it out on someone else by judging instead of confronting their own problems. Some people don’t want to believe that they in fact make mistakes too. Without compassion and empathy, one will always be unhappy.

  7. Tessa says:

    Everyone sees things through different eyes and comes from different circumstances and has learned different things in life, so I think when one realizes that then it is easier to be non-judgmental and understand the other person just needs an ear and will learn in their own time what they need to do or how to do things a better way!

  8. amberfireinus says:

    If you don’t want people to comment… then don’t vent to them. Simple. That avoids the problem. Some people are critical like your mother. But mother’s tend to do that, trying to be “helpful”.

    My personal hate is that people ASK me for my advice, don’t take it then are resentful of me about it. Im like… hello, you called ME?!

  9. russ says:

    My rule of thumb is to talk less than the other person.

    Advise is something that needs time to ferment, like a difficult technical read, best slept on.

    Consider the person with the problem as well as the problem. Then, maybe ask, “did you consider …”, without getting down to the nitty gritty.

    Realize it is sort of like in the movie Matrix. It is dangerous to free a mind that may not be able to accept the broader “truth”.

  10. Lee says:

    THANK YOU for writing about this. I am 53, single, and have always preferred my own space and independence which largely explains my singlehoodness. I work hard, support myself (some years better than others), and have three adult sisters – one older, two are married with children. Our mother is still living. I could write volumes about how dysfunctional we are, but the issue I have been searching for online help with is: 1) mother and at least two siblings who have a tendency to tell me what to do or not do and over things that are not life-changing except I find it very inappropriate and demeaning, and tiresome to “fight;” and, 2) my coping/tolerance skills, or lack thereof, in dealing with them when they feel so inclined to tell me how to be me. My mother and I have made positive progress over the years, which hasn’t been easy and occasionally there are relapses but I give her a lot of credit for trying, and we’re in a better place than we were a couple of years ago. My older sister who is also single and lives with our mother, and my next youngest sibling who is married with three daughters who are college aged, both inherited this need to criticize and tell me what to do. I don’t know if it’s everybody or just me. I’m actually normally a pretty strong, assertive in my own way, take care of myself woman. I’m not a needy person. I’ve been taking care of myself since I was 20. I don’t reach out to them for advice. In fact, my main fault is I have flipped to the opposite extreme and wouldn’t dream of asking them for advice, except for my younger sister who is more like me – she has a good job also. She is married with one child, but we’re still more alike than our other siblings. I have a difficult time coping when they tell me I shouldn’t do this or that. When I was younger I used to take it, but now I get angry and I express that anger through not so nice emails or voice conversations. I know I know better. I can’t change them, but I can try to change how I respond – and that’s when I went searching online for some advice. Examples of what I have trouble dealing with: 1) typically when the family gets together for someone’s birthday we go to the married sister’s house and I am always invited and always go except for once when I was too tired after a long week at work and I called my sister and told her I wouldn’t be coming and she accused me of not wanting to be with them which wasn’t it at all but I was exhausted and one of the few times I have asserted myself within the family I opted to stay home; 2) same sister said I was posting too many comments on one of her daughter’s Facebook page, except I don’t believe I was – perhaps without realizing might have favored that niece and clicked “like” or typed “cute dog” or whatever too often so I have scaled back, but I’m not addicted to FB as they are with their hundreds of photos and friends lists that are endless yet the sister reprimands me for posting too much – except I didn’t; 3) Christmas is out of control except when I suggested drawing names two years ago I was vetoed, but now the sister of the nieces is suggesting it and with her rules that are ridiculously restrictive that it will take all the fun and joy out of gift-giving so I suggested we also play some games when we get together and perhaps bring a few small “dirty Santa” type gifts – well she had to change that to a food theme, which is fine except when I commented that could include food gift cards ($5 to McDonald’s for example) of course she said no – no gift cards, except I’ll probably buy one anyway; 4) I could tell you about the time when my mother and older sister stayed at my house for about 10 days and criticized where I left my keys and I knew exactly why I left them where I did and jeepers creepers what business was it of theirs; 5) I have met friends after work before when the older sister decided to join us and she will correct me if I say something she disagrees with, which usually begins with my name being pronounced with exaggerated vowel sounds, and my friends have picked up on that put-down (I no longer invite the sister, because I also got stuck paying for whatever she ordered) and a couple of them also know my history with my mother which I won’t get into – except to say that she and I have largely dealt with the baggage and while some of the scars are still there at least we aren’t creating any new ones, which is good. I sought professional counselling to deal with her, which helped but mostly the psychologist thought I had a good handle on things and I do…except I don’t know how to respond when faced with being told what to do or say or think? It can be stupid things, but each stupid thing seems to be a breeding ground for something larger. We don’t even see each other that often, and most of us live within 20 minutes of each other which is also sad. Youngest sister was wise and she and her husband live four hours away. I’m sure I am rambling and there are so many dynamics, but when you sift through the layers you’re left with people who love to tell me, and I’m sure others, what to do, think, say, and feel. They don’t see this as controlling behavior. On the flip side, my inability to respond in a mature way to it is also not a good thing either. I really like what SKL posted, but welcome any and all advice and suggestions for how I can learn to walk away or take it without feeling like a doormat or feeling diminished self-esteem. I will definitely read more of what you have written. Thank you.

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