Dear You’re Stupid,
What do you do about people who ask for advice, and then happily tell you soon after: “Thanks for taking all that time to talk to me. I’m going to do exactly nothing of what you said!”
I understand that part of human existence is to seek advice from others until you find someone who tells you exactly what you wanted to do anyway. But how can I avoid being a victim of time-suck? And why do people think it’s okay to actually tell you that they blew off every single piece of your advice? I’m generally a nice person for most of the month, and tend to get sucked in easily. I sort of feel bad when it appears to be time wasted.
Then again, I could just have control issues. Please advise.
Dear Dummy in Dallas,
I think you nailed two important, crucial points right there in your letter: One, they have already made up their minds about what they want to do, and are therefore just looking for someone else to give them what they want to hear — to go ahead with their bonehead plans — and, two? Yep, they want to come back and tell you that they did what they wanted to do anyway.
Quit giving these kinds of people advice. Period.
See, I don’t want to stereotype here, but I will. You know those kinds of people who just bitch and bitch and bitch and never listen? And then when you try to give them advice, they just dive in again with their bitchin’? Yep, these are the folks who have no interest in listening to you or anyone else for that matter. They will talk and bulldoze and talk and bulldoze their way through their existence, until, of course, anyone with any real power will shut them down.
You, however, being an impartial third party, do not harness the powers to shut these kind of folk down. So just shut them out.
Do not feel guilty. You owe them nothing. Really. Nothing. If they’ve refused to take heed your advice in the past and then shoved your face in it triumphantly, then the next time they approach you, you just say, “Why do you ask me? You didn’t listen to what I said last time, so I’d rather just not get involved. Good luck with your situation. Truly. But I need not be involved in your decision-making process.”
And, for good measure, for the more extreme head cases may I suggest some professional third-party advice, i.e., gently suggesting some therapy?
They may be mad. They may stomp around a little bit. Let them. Let them think over why no one listens when they talk anymore. Then they may just start listening.