A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Buzz Off! Why I’m serving up unfiltered truth to nosy advice-givers

Monthly columnist Amy Fenster Brown is married to Jeff and has two teenage sons, Davis and Leo. She volunteers for several Jewish not-for-profit groups. Fenster Brown is an Emmy Award-winning TV news writer and counts time with family and friends, talking and eating peanut butter among her hobbies.

Recently I read an article about home organization. The expert suggested vacuuming in natural light to really be able to see dirt and debris, so you won’t have to go back and do touch ups. Until that moment, I had no idea going back and doing touch ups was even an option. Now we readers are stuck feeling bad about our housekeeping abilities because the expert, who we no longer like, sparked the idea that our vacuuming skills are not up to snuff. 

This is also a great time to consider throwing money at the problem and hiring a cleaning service.

Look, I can’t be a stunning beauty and a stunning housekeeper. Pick One. It’s either me or the house. We can’t both look good at the same time. 

Since this was in a magazine, I can just put it down or throw it away (in the recycle bin, of course) and not read anymore advice from that horribly rude expert. But what about when people say these things to your face? We’ve all gotten unsolicited advice that leaves us a little shocked, not able to respond quickly or quick-wittedly enough, and usually biting our tongues to be polite. 

Well no more Mr. Nice Guy for this lady! If they want to tell us things that aren’t their beeswax, we should be able to respond the way we want to – honestly and unfiltered. 

You know who is the worst in this area? Moms who have given birth. The worst. Pregnant women are literally growing the future of the world in their adorable bellies, and they also have to deal with the mouthy moms who labored before them. If you’ve ever carried the fruit of your loins in your loins, you know what I’m talking about. Everyone has a story for you about their pregnancy and how it was the worst, or their delivery was so painful, or their recovery was so awful. Worse are the stories of complications that really shouldn’t be shared with an expecting mother unless she asks.  This is scary for the sweet Mommy-to-be. If you are the pregnant one, just remember, the mom made it through, the baby made it out, and you are going to be fine. You might not get to shower or eat every day, but you’ll be fine. 

When people give you unsolicited advice you should ask them for a gift receipt so you can return it and get something you actually want. I also wish I could send an invoice to people who waste my time, because I really do deserve compensation for those billable hours. 

Sometimes you need to stop the advice giver in their tracks. If you’re bored or need to escape their wordy wrath, ask them “Paper or plastic?” When they ask what you mean tell them “I’m checking out of this conversation.” That might work. 

You know what else we could do? We could use reverse reverse psychology. With reverse psychology we try to get what we want by acting like we don’t want it. But with reverse reverse psychology we just say what we want right off the bat, unapologetically, without using tactics or manipulation. This is exactly the same as being forthcoming and honest, but since it has the fancy name of reverse reverse psychology it seems more like you’re using a tool in the toolbox your therapist helped you curate, which makes you feel like you really got your money’s worth from all of those sessions. 

Side note – I would be a terrible therapist. Interrupting is my worst habit, especially when I have a joke that I think is so funny it would be a crime not to share it, and it’s probably super annoying for the person trying to talk, well, uninterrupted. Also, when the client would say something like “I’m filled with shame” I would say “Oh, me, too,” which I doubt would be helpful at all. 

If you’ve learned anything here, it’s that you are allowed to stop someone giving you unsolicited advice. If you can’t come up with a comeback fast enough you can always respond with your own unsolicited advice right back to them by saying, “Ask your doctor if minding your own beeswax is right for you.”

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