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Living with the Consequences

forgiveness-and-consequences-300x204So I was having dinner with , and friends of the . ‘Tis the season.

The night was going well enough. I’ve finally learned to hold my tongue and not take offense when people say offensive things. Just better to get along.

A friend of the family asked if she could share a problem with us. She said she wanted our advice. I didn’t really think she wanted my advice. I was just there…  My plan was to listen and nod at the appropriate places.

It was a family problem. Someone had done something to upset her. There was simmering resentment. The details don’t matter. She wanted to confront the person. Give him an ultimatum. One with teeth. And she wanted to know what we thought.  Should she confront him? Should she deliver the ultimatum.

I listened as others provided her with the same flavor of advice, over and over. The groupthink was that she should try to persuade the guy to change his behavior. To share her feelings with him and convince him that he was wrong, she was right and he needed to make amends.

I quietly stuffed my face with bad food (why does my family always pick bad restaurants?). It didn’t seem like my business and I’m not one to give advice, anyway. But then she asked me. Specifically. What did I think?

I went with the . That I don’t think people change. And if it was a long-standing problem/pattern of behavior, it was probably unlikely that he (her offending family member) would change. That if she really wanted to confront him and deliver her ultimatum, she needed to think through everything that would happen if things went poorly, since they’d probably go poorly. Could she really deliver the blow? What would happen afterwards? Could she live with the consequences?

Pretty basic. People don’t change. And ultimatums almost always frequently backfire.

I said my peace, then tried to change the subject. I knew I’d said the wrong thing and figured it was best to move the conversation along. Talk about the weather.

I don’t know what she’ll end up doing. Again, not my business. But I’m pretty sure I was right. It’s all about the consequences. I’ve learned the hard way.

Or maybe I’m just misanthropic and need a better attitude?

All of the above.

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12 to “Living with the Consequences”

  1. Dennis Hong says:

    Agree 100% with what you said to her.

    For what it’s worth, here’s the first thing I’ve now learned to say whenever someone comes to me for “advice” of any sort:

    “Are you looking for advice, or are you just looking for support?”

    • Simone Grant says:

      I like that and will have to remember it. Most people, I think, don’t really want advice. Just someone to tell them they’re doing the right thing.

  2. More often in life I’ve been thankful for what I have not said- no matter how clever I thought I was. But I do hate the consequences when I don’t hold my tongue.

  3. sandyvs says:

    “I said my peace, then tried to change the subject. I knew I’d said the wrong thing and figured it was best to move the conversation along. Talk about the weather.”

    I don’t understand why you ‘knew’ you’d said the wrong thing, when, IMO you said the perfect RIGHT thing, which you were the only one with the balls to say it.

    Why do you think you were specifically asked your opinion?

    • Simone Grant says:

      I think I was asked for my opinion because I’d been sitting thee silently for a long while while everyone else was talking. And I think/thought I’d said the wrong thing because it wasn’t what she wanted to hear. Like most people, she wanted to WIN and I was telling her that there was no winning.

  4. sandyvs says:

    I don’t know your family dynamics, and that may be why you didn’t say anything until you were asked, rather than jumping in with your opinion. I think if someone asks one to two other people their opinion, they may be just wanting validation for their point of view, but if someone asks a group of people, I would think that they’re expecting a group of different opinions, not the same one.
    That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy reading your comments; to see different takes on the same situation. A lot of the time, after reading others comments I get a different perspective on the situation.

    • Simone Grant says:

      I’m the black sheep. OK, not really. But I do tend to have very different opinions/beliefs than my family members. And because I loathe conflict, I keep my mouth shut when I know there’s going to be a difference of opinions. Which is frequently.
      I guess that’s odd. I don’t know. I consider it self-preservation.

      And thank you. Again and again.

  5. MBE says:

    Haha love the bit about bad restaurants. My family is exactly the same.

    The Austen quote, ‘How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!’ springs to mind. Also Wilde on giving a woman advice: ‘never give a woman anything she can’t wear in the evening’! I agree absolutely with Dennis; people very rarely want advice per se; they just want to discuss, dissect, analyse and talk about a particular issue, and asking advice is a vehicle for this, which engages the audience. And I’m probably as guilty of doing this as anyone!
    MBE recently posted..Mugging OffenceMy Profile

  6. I completely agree with the answer you gave her. People shouldn’t ask for an opinion if they are afraid of the answer. There comes a point in life where we all need to wake up and smell the coffee; others prefer to shugar coat the truth when asked for advice. They are merely afraid of hurting the other persons’ feelings. But the consequences are much moer dyer if you do not give honest advice in the first place.

  7. Gabrielle says:

    Yes, I know from experience that you have to always be aware of the consequences, not matter what. Think first, then speak as they say. Great post. Thanks

  8. Honesty is always the best, we should never regret in being honest!
    Nice article btw!