Unfollowed Advice

Dear Wombat & Dingbat,
How do you deal with someone who always thinks that they’re right? Someone who asks for your opinion and/or advice, then quickly discards or discounts the idea/suggestion? Then in almost the same breath, argues that what s/he is doing is better and the idea offered is ‘less than’.

With thanks,

– Disheartened Friend

Dear Disheartened Friend,

You could try what Wombat does when I don’t listen to her advice, which mostly involves body slamming and a certain number of rude words.

Just because you don’t listen doesn’t mean that I’m not always right. The difference is that you rarely ask my opinion. Certainly not as often as you ought to. Kind of like Disheartened’s annoying friend.

Wait. In this scenario, which of us is the annoying one?

You have to ask? So, my question for you, Disheartened, is basically where we always start. What is the goal? What behavior are you trying to get? One possible goal would be to get your friend to listen to your advice, which, after all, they have asked for. Which seems reasonable, but is it realistic? Do you have reason to believe your friend actually wants your advice? It sounds like they really just want a sounding board while they come to their own conclusion. If that’s the case, then the question is whether you really want to be giving advice to this person. It sounds like the way it works currently, it’s pretty annoying. But even if they were going to listen, would it be important to you to give them advice? What do you get out of it?

Good question. What do you get out of giving me advice?

What do you mean? I tell you what to do when you are being bad, like barking just because there is a cat in the yard. The Human doesn’t like it. You need to stop.

When you bark at me to stop barking, do I stop?

No. Clearly, you need to listen better.

So, you are barking at me to stop barking—does that make The Human happy?

How have we gotten so far off topic? I was trying to talk with Disheartened about her friend who won’t listen to advice.

And what were you about to tell her?

That maybe the best solution would be to just stop giving advice.

HA!

What do you mean, “HA!”

If I don’t listen when you tell me what to do, why not just stop telling me what to do?

I’m not sure I like where this conversation is going. Besides, we’re here to talk about Disheartened, not us. As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, maybe when your friend asks for advice, you should just respond to what they seem to really want, which is to have a sounding board. You could say something like: “What have you thought about this so far?” or “What’s your inclination at the moment?” or “Have you made a list of pros and cons?” or “What is your gut telling you?” You can make it your goal to preserve the friendship by managing the situation so that the annoying behavior never has a chance to get started. Whether your friend makes a good choice or not is really not your problem.

Like whether I bark at a cat is really not your problem?

It’s my problem if I have to listen to you.

But it’s not a problem for me to have to listen to you?

No. Because I am right. And because I am older. And smarter. And a girl.

I know, I know: “Bitches rule, dogs drool.”

See, sometimes you do listen. Good job.

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