Another thing they used to say in La Leche League was that we preferred to give information rather than advice. I’ve talked about this before, but I have feelings about it. So here I am again.
When we were helping women with their babies, we’d let them know what we knew, what the current research says, and what our friends had experienced with their babies. Women would listen to all the information, then make up their own minds about what would work for their families. We had run into so many mother-baby pairs that we knew what is best for one might not be the best for another.
And you know, people seemed to like that approach. Lecturing and saying “you should” often makes people shut right down. People tend to dislike hearing that they are wrong, and often spend a lot of time justifying their own actions rather than taking in new ideas and considering them.
I’ve chosen to take that approach and apply it to potential “arguments” and conversations. Ooh, and I also apply it to exchanges on social media. I find my own self shutting down when I mention an issue I’m having only to find half the world telling me what I should do. It feels like people are ordering me around, even though I know perfectly well that, in their minds, they are giving suggestions! Thus, I try to answer anyone’s questions to make it clear that I’m just giving one data point, not my authoritative expert declaration.
As I recently read, the older you get the more you realize you aren’t an expert at anything! You know you have more to learn. The more you know the more you realize you don’t know, or something like that.
I got to thinking about this when I was reading a book (Getting along with Horses: an Evolution in Understanding) by Crissy McDonald, the spouse of Mark Rashid. She talked about mentioning sharing a photo of a horse that was hobbled (a way to keep them from wandering off when you don’t have a fence). Now, she knew what she was doing, the horse had been trained to be comfortable with the hobbles, etc. But people on social media just started yelling at her that she was abusing animals…before asking her pertinent things like what the horse’s experience with this was, how was she using the technique, etc. There was no effort to be curious about what she shared.
Sigh. Been there myself! Seen it happen to others so many times. I know that there are people who increase their self esteem by putting others down to build themselves up. I know there are people who honestly believe they are experts on most things. There are folks who just love to argue/debate. There are people who just don’t know much social etiquette. Like Crissy, I do my best to send good thoughts to people like that and simply not engage. You’re not going to teach these “experts” anything. They don’t want YOUR lecture any more than you want theirs, right?
So, treasure those around you who are willing to pass out information and let you decide for yourself how to use that information in your unique situation.
Consider, after reading all my information, using the techniques of just offering up things you know, experiences you’ve had, or opinions, not getting all invested in whether your input is acted on. Perhaps the other person has something going on that makes your information inapplicable, and that’s no reflection on you (or me).
Well, I got that off my chest. Two rants in a row. Whew.