People will ask for advice if they really want it. People are not “broken pieces of code” begging to be fixed.
I’ve lost friends over this, until one dear friend pointed this out to me in a “look, I have to tell you something really really important” manner.
So I've come to realize - After a friend/coworker shares something that they're sad/angry about, my standard MO is:
1) Say something like "Wow, that must really feel terrible. I'm sorry to hear that!" (I always feel the need to add more to this statement, but it's better off said with a light touch and not heavy-handed.) Then,
2) "I feel like I was in a similar situation a few months ago when..." Important rule about this step - this statement is NOT to be a 1-upper. You're not saying this to proclaim that your situation from the past is more significant/worse than their situation. You're saying this because it helps your friend/colleague understand that they're not alone in how they're feeling, and their feelings are (generally-speaking) justified. Also - You don't talk about what you did to solve the issue. You talk about how you felt, etc. Be vulnerable, be open, and the person venting to you will respond similarly. Finally,
3) Ask "So what are you gonna do about it?" This kinda turns its head on the status-quo. Usually, this is the time you start explaining "Well here's what I did in my situation!" But that's not what you want here. Instead, you're asking the person if they've thought of a plan to tackle the issue. If you've established a "safe space" to discuss the topic, they feel more open about sharing their plan to resolve the problem, even if they don't have a plan and have to come up with it on the spot. Then, more likely than not, they'll ask "What do you think?"
At this point, you're free to let your problem-solving self run wild, assuming that you don't then consider your friend/colleague a "broken piece of code begging to be fixed."
The others are too nuanced to easily explain, but “what are you going to do with that,” is a fucking fantastic question when a friend confides in you. You’re right that this requires some level of safety, but you are making sure they are still self-empowered.
The worst thing you can do is remove that agency and try to solve someone’s problems for them.
And as a teacher, you are telling them.
Good riddance if that's how somebody in my life ever reacted in that situation.
Nobody wants to be the person that other people see as a basket case. Just because someone is upset doesn't mean they can't solve the problem.
They would probably not say that and just slowly freeze you out of their social life because they found you annoying, grating, or unpleasant to interact with.
People often simply want to share what's going on and be heard and recognized. It's a basic human need.
Obviously it all depends on the situation.
Most people just don't like advice they didn't ask for.
Unsolicited advice only annoys me if it's long-winded and preventing me from doing something else.
Also, I don't know what "validation" is in this context. Oxford English Dictionary doesn't seem to adequately cover psychobabble (though it does at least have the word "psychobabble").
If you’re trying to be absurd or sarcastic then I think you need someone like me to help you with that, and I won’t.
I’m a programmer but I don’t enjoy writing code. I enjoy helping people with themselves.
So I strongly advocate for anyone who wants a way in and I choos to use my coaching skills to be a cheerleader for new and existing talent.
But to answer your question, I’m a coach in training for coaching.
That being said, when more "socially normal" people are the recipients of other people's venting, I don't imagine that they are able to ignore it because they are psychopaths. In fact, I imagine many of them aren't actually ignoring it. I imagine that many of them feel sympathy, some maybe even empathy, but they understand what we don't, namely that unsolicited advice makes it worse. More "socially normal" people understand how to commiserate without providing unsolicited advice, and they understand that such commiseration is helpful.
Like I've told my wife multiple times, if I'm venting, I want solutions. If someone isn't able to give me advice, they're not helpful. But I've realized that more "socially normal" people aren't like this. They often don't care about the solution, they just want to be heard and understood. I don't get it, it boggles my mind to no end. But I've come to accept that it's true (though I often forget). My wife doesn't care for my solutions if she doesn't ask for them. She'll figure it out herself. She just needs emotional support.
Again, emotional support is useless to me. It's idiotic. I need solutions, not emotional support. But other people want the opposite.
Now, how to provide that emotional support... without being flippant, condescending, insincere, etc... is yet another conundrum... partly due to my foundational believe that emotional support by itself is useless. How can I be sincere about something I don't believe to be effective?
Anyway, my point is... I don't think others are psychopaths... they're just more emotionally intelligent as to what other people are actually hoping to get when in need.
And I doubt "socially normal" people "understand" such commiseration is helpful (i am sure it is, by the way), but they are genetically or environmentally conditioned to respond like that and it just happened it is majority like that.
Don't get me wrong. I understand it requires effort to be accepted, and i try to fit in. But being constantly under stress during my normal day, adding on top of it someone's else emotions about something they do not want to fix, but rather want to share stress with someone as a social interaction, is no good for me mentally (very different story at parties where I get quickly drunk enough to no pass out, but completelly turn off my internal problem solver btw - I can talk feelings all night long).
Somethings can be true and useful.
Somethings can be true and neither useful nor useless.
Somethings can be true and counterproductive.
These philosophical statements I think do apply to general conversation. Sometimes it's not useful to tell somebody what steps they need to take, sometimes because they put themselves in the situation in the first place, and sometimes because they just need to understand it from a wholistic perspective.
Because people are at seeing their actions. We then judge ourselves by our motives—and others by their behavior. Even the smartest of us.
You make some great points above which is what I try to follow too after doing it poorly in the past. It's especially important if you're married. :)
My wife almost always wants my perspective but she wants to be listened to first and to vent on occasion. And also to ensure I have all the information first before I weigh in.
She wants an advisor not a magic 8 ball.
I guess the trick is not worrying about other people's problems. But... I dunno, I just don't like unsolved problems hanging around.
A farmer is sitting on his porch in a chair, hanging out.
A friend walks up to the porch to say hello, and hears an awful yelping, squealing sound coming from inside the house.
"What's that terrifyin' sound?" asks the friend.
"It's my dog," said the farmer. "He's sittin' on a nail."
"Why doesn't he just sit up and get off it?" asks the friend.
The farmer deliberates on this and replies:
"Doesn't hurt enough yet.
Like many here, this has not been natural for me, but one thing I’ve been impressed by is how much more people will be encouraged to talk if you just give them short answers that show you’re listening and leave the ball in their court vs. taking over the conversation at every opportunity. Sometimes you just have to let the silence hang for a bit.
The hard thing to square is, if you really care about someone, and you really think you have some input that could help them, you need to figure out how to communicate that without annoying them / hurting their feelings.
It's also important not to have an ego when giving advice / input. It's likely that you're not perfectly correct.
Me: I have this problem that sucks.
Other person: Have you tried A?
Me: No, I thought about that already. A isn't a good idea because of B.
Other person: Well, what about C?
Me: No, I thought about that too. C isn't a good idea because of D.
Other person: (Angrily) Well, I don't know how to help you then.
And so now in addition to having to deal with a hard problem to solve, I have to deal with making other people angry about how they can not solve my hard problems.
People get angry, because they want to feel helpful and useful. When they can't help with something they feel frustrated and when you tell them you've already thought of everything, they feel stupid. By doing it the other way, they still feel like they've helped you. I'll usually try and be light hearted about it and laugh about how it really is a difficult problem or something like that. When you do it that way, it puts the problem into perspective for them and they don't feel stupid for trying to help, they feel like it's something difficult you're both trying to solve. Then they inevitably get bored and go do something else and leave you amicably to work on your problem. At least in my experience.
Sorry for the unsolicited advice.
I just don't understand this humanoid need for seeking emotional validation by pretending to ask for advice. A lot of my friends and acquaintances do that, and I know how to handle it, but myself, I just can't do that.
now if someone describes a problem and asks "what should I do?", that is a clear solicitation for advice. if they get mad at you for trying to help solve the problem, that's totally on them.
In some cases People aren’t looking for the advice/solution, as much as the recognition that they have a problem... person A tells a problem, person B suggests ways to resolve the problem, to which person A has to give/come up with a reason why that solution won’t do.
We then repeat this until a stalemate is reached, and everybody can acknowledge that person A is justified in their feelings about having a problem...
So on the flip side; your example seems to be a misinterpretation of this game. I.e. some person who’s played this game, and learned that this is what to do, meets a frustration where you’re not playing along with it... (maybe)
Short order solution; don’t play that game with people who don’t have a healthy relationship with frustrating problems.
- If someone talks to me about a problem that I can't solve. I'll try to help, if I don't know the answer. that's normal. I don't know everything.
- If I try a solution to a problem and It doesn't work, I get frustrated not at the asker, but because It didn't work.
If everybody acts this way, The situation gets easier for everybody, problem are solved if possible and no bad feeling are had,if not.
In fact this behaviour follows directly from already well established moral values: giving others the benefit of the doubt, not being vain ( needing others to validate/compliment you), humility, "I know that I know nothing", Thirst for learning.
I don't understand why autistic people are assumed to be wrong/inferrior in scoial contexts even when their behaviour is the right thing to do.
Another example is trashtalking people behind their back. I always feel compelled to either say a nicething about that person, defend him/play the devil, stop the conversation. People don't like it when I do that, although I'm sure that they, as well as I, would appreciate if someone defends them when they are not there.
The world would be a better place if you ever found an answer to that question.
It's not a fair comparison, but I tend to internally categorize people as logical or emotional. It usually helps keep things running more smoothly to treat the two groups how they prefer.
The trick is to not make the distinction a value judgement. I'm usually pretty good at that, but sometimes I slip up.
: Because both groups display traits of the other, and it's not a hard line distinction. Ever seen someone on the spectrum throw a tantrum? It might (might) be logic that started it, but emotions take over nearly immediately.
maybe a slight more productive way to have these conversations would be
"I thought about A, it didn't seem like a good idea to me because of B, what do you think? Am I thinking about this wrong? Is there some reason why B doesn't prevent A from being a good idea?"
subtle difference, but it signals that you value their input and ideas, and leaves open the possibility of you learning new things about your problem
(if you don't value their input and ideas, perhaps you shouldn't share your problems with them)
Most people feel the best when THEY manage or solve their problems. But this is really hard. Often one's emotions get in the way. By sharing them with other people, you can sometimes release a pressure valve which makes someone feel more capable of dealing with their problem.
It's a key distinction.
Sometimes people are more receptive about suggested solutions after you've expressed some solidarity.
"Yeah that does suck"
"That situation happened to me, it was a pain in the ass, I tried to do X, it didn't work that well, then I tried to do Y, it seemed to work ok, if I'm in that situation again, I'll probably go with Y"
If you don't want actionable answers to a problem, save it to your personal life or therapist.
Your colleagues have a duty to behave decently towards you but they are not paid to be your emotional dumpster.
Sometimes my colleague needs to went about a project that is going bad or a person that is making their life difficult and sometimes I might do that as well. You listen and sometimes you discuss solutions but sometimes it just venting about a situation you both know is shitty.
Just don't become they guy/girl who is always negative or talking shit about people though.
In other words, a choice to talk about a problem can be fueled by several possible impulses - the need to solve the problem, the need to connect with their friend, the need to share the interesting complexity of the problem, etc.
Good advice. Sometimes people clarify situations by talking about them, and simple active listening can provide what's needed.
If sympathy is what they want, and you start offering solutions, they will be tempted to argue back about why the solutions won't work, and then (as the saying goes) you have two problems.
Anyone who receives unsolicited advice often has reason to believe that the advice giver (a) doesn't truly understand the issue at hand (b) cares more about themselves being the giver of information than it actually helping.
Before you give advice, you need to make sure you've established trust. One way of doing this is to actively listen and communicate back what you understand. Many social problems involve an emotional aspect, which is why many people recommend acknowledging the emotions of another person.
Spewing a ton of information without listening doesn't build trust. And if you present it as something they SHOULD do, versus something they have the OPTION of choosing, that minimizes their agency. People don't like to be bossed around.
The reason why your comment is no big deal on this forum is that you haven't targeted anyone personally, so nobody feels like you are misunderstanding their personal circumstances or that you are trying to trump their agency.
Meta, I know the sentence structure wasn't the best, but I don't want help with improving it right now
I've stopped helping, or even started avoiding, some "friends" because of this.
Of course some tact is needed, and I've sometimes got that wrong. You have to properly listen before making suggestions, perhaps you need to ask questions first too to make sure you actually really understand, and definitely watch for signs (or explicit mentions) that advice/solutions are not wanted at this point (sometimes people just need to sound it out, to help get things in order in their own heads), and don't give definitive sounding advice when you aren't as sure as you sound, and sometimes great care needs to be given to your wording/intonation (lest advice be confused for judgement), but if after all that I make a suggestion and get my face bitten off, I am not the dick in that situation.
An actual quote, yelled before storming off: "oh, that is just like you, trying to solve everything". Damn right that is just like me, the me you know well. If someone I care about has a problem in front of me then yes I'll try help them solve it. If you don't like that, then making me not care is not particularly difficult - screaming "oh, that is just like you, trying to solve everything", storming off, and not offering any apology at all afterwards, is an effective step in that process.
Of course I need to be aware that how I react to problems may not be what other people want, and I'm not afraid to admit that empathy is a trait/skill I am sometimes not as strong in as I would like to be. But accepting that other people are different should work both ways.
You should read about the triforce. http://thebetaman.com/2017/09/26/the-triforce-of-communicati...
Like I will tell my friends and family about problems I am having at work because they are my friends and family and I assume that they care about how my life is going. If they are able to provide solutions, I will not rule it out for them. But most likely they are not because they have different jobs. When people attempt to give advice on things they don't know about, I assume they are more interested in appearing smart than my well being.
Depends on the situation. I would certainly make it clear (if I didn't think it was already abundantly so) that anything I said wasn't from a position of expertise.
If someone is simply wanting to sound out a problem, or is seeking to describe their frustration as in your example, that should be fairly obvious from their wording (this tends to fall apart a little when there is a bit of a language barrier, so take extra care in those situations).
They may be deliberately looking for an outsides view - sometimes even a wrong suggestion can jog the mind towards some wood that you've not seen for the trees. Here asking questions can help: if you try to formulate your problem in a way that an outsider understands it can actually help your own understanding, or make you spot the simply thing that you'd managed to miss while "thinking too hard".
Another way of helping rather than directly, particularly in technical matters, is to suggest other helpers ("have you asked [insert someone I think will be able to help for more than I, here]?"). Or even general problem solving help. They may just need a distraction (the old "fresh air / food / hydration / company - then hopefully hit the problem again with a fresher mind).
> When people attempt to give advice on things they don't know about, I assume they are more interested in appearing smart than my well being.
I would agree with that, but only after allowing for the above caveats. And I try to be polite when it happens: the Dunning-Kruger effect can lead people to innocently misunderstand both complexity and scale, through no malice nor desire for self promotion.
Maybe they wanted comfort, and not a solution?
"Ein ungefragter Rat ist ein Schlag."
Unfortunately, in english, it doesn't rhyme that nicely: "An undemanded advice is a punch." (I seriously doubt that "undemanded" is the best translation for "ungefragt", but you get the idea.)
When feel like people would benefit from advice to the extent that not giving it would be unfriendly/selfish/whatever itself, I try to follow following guidelines:
* Refraining from using "you did", "you said", "you <whatever", but instead choosing something like "I read that as", "I interpreted it this way".
* Not implying what the other one meant, but instead saying something like "when I did it the way you did, I did it because of xy. Only later I learned that I was wrong, and people didn't actually mean it that way." That puts you onto the same level as the person you are talking to. Even if the other person takes what you say as accusation, you are accusing yourself of the same, so it's less bad. Plus, there is still the emergency exit for the other person to say "well, actually my reasons for stating it this way are entirely different".
I hope you get what I mean.
"Ratschläge sind auch Schläge."
which could be translated as
"Advice is also punishment"
In German it becomes obvious as the word "Schläge" (punishment/beating/plural of punch) is part of the word "Ratschläge" (advice).
...conveys the meaning of the German words best to me. It's funny how meaning of words in one language doesn't map cleanly to another.
Of course, that doesn't mean people like it.
Personally, I will eventually give advice to people if they're venting. I'll make it polite, of course. If they don't want to fix their shit, then I'm not obliged to listen to it.
While it's rarely very useful, and sometimes annoying, it's not something people expect me to be offended about. If it's really not that useful the conversation changes quickly. It's usually just a window into another's frame of mind. I welcome it.
Note well: Five minutes worked for me talking to my wife. For person X talking to person Y, the correct time may range from 0 to infinity.
Who should be considered? Well, both.
At least over time. I'm not saying finding the balance in a relationship is appropriate at the moment when people are emotional, but it is possible to emotionally neglect or bully someone who is fairly even-keeled.
And, of course, I've seen less emotive women bullied by emotionally unstable men. I wouldn't say it's necessarily one gender getting the short end of this dysfunctional communication pattern.
I've never met a frustrated or angry person who is receptive to actual feedback. I'm the same way. Validate my emotional concern first, then move on to the next step.
Most of the time all I need to do is vocalize my problem... and that works best when I "have the floor."
If you don't mind me suggesting, that is really what was happening.
The way I'd put it is "just let them talk for 5 minutes" is another person's "actually listen to them before offering feedback". I'm constantly surprised by how many people offer advice without even hearing what the problem actually is.
I think, for me, it comes from a deep desire and need to be "noticed" and when I am observing someone or listening to someone and there is an opportunity for me to start "fixing" I feel this compulsive urge to do so.
I've started telling myself: just STFU. STFU, let them talk, and if after talking they open the door for feedback or thoughts or observations share them, otherwise they only want someone to acknowledge what's going on for them.
Unsolicited advice is also really vicious the more I've thought about it, you're robbing someone of the opportunity to figure things out for themselves, even if you've figured it out yourself or you have a great way of doing things, most people will and should figure things out on their own (and those that want to improve will open themselves up to feedback).
On the one hand I get the desire to just vent. But if you're going to post certain types of problems (esp technical) very publicly, IMO the expectation should be for unsolicited feedback, especially since others might benefit. Nonetheless, I still usually err on the side of not replying.
As to whether I'm just venting, I suppose I imagine that on Twitter the developers might hear my complaints. (And yes, as such I should always remind myself to keep my complaint relatively respectful for this reason).
You can dig pretty deep in that way and they may open up to the root of the issue, and sometimes reveal a belief that is preventing them from carrying out the correct action.
In many cases once they have talked at length about the problem so that all it's ramifications are as clear for you as they are for them, they have also greatly increased their own perception of their problem, which generally reveals an obvious solution (and this is the important bit) that they themselves have to put into words.
The "solution" may be obvious to you, but if you present it as such immediately you will get pushback.
I used to joke that at a previous gig I was the team's therapist because I'd take people out to coffee or a beer and let them vent about whatever problem they're dealing with, while not really caring too much about it myself. Very rarely did I ever give any advice unless I was directly asked, and usually I would just give a question like "Well, have you tried this option?".
Listening to the problem while simultaneously not caring about gives the other person the ability to care less about it as well - and a solution usually presents itself.
Can you please elaborate? I don't follow.
They break the phonetic rules of the language and you're kind of expected to memorize it and get on with it.
People will even ask for advice even when they really don't want it! So don't say that a girl is fat and needs to diet even if she asks you why she can't get the guys she want and tell you to be honest. Some want to hear that but most don't.
Then give her a hug.
Don't do this if you are bad at reading people.
The alternative is to just be brutally honest and that way filter out friends who aren't ok with it. It might hurt a bit, but if you value this kind of communication over having many friends it could be worth it. Just don't do this at your job since you will likely get fired or managed out.
I found the inverse to be even more valuable. Finding friends who are not afraid to be brutally honest with you when the situation calls for it is difficult, but worth it so much. Just make sure you actually can receive this kind of criticism first without taking it as a personal attack.
in the stereotypical "does this dress make me look fat?" conversation, the person is (probably) not asking whether her partner think she looks fat. the actual content here is usually a request for reassurance. even if the partner does think she looks fat, "no, of course not" isn't really a lie; it's just satisfying the subtextual request.
if on the other hand, she says "I have a meeting with some executives today, does this outfit work?", she is looking for a literal answer and responding with reassurance would be unhelpful.
“look, I have to tell you something really really important”
See, this is what I mean. In that case it was your friend giving you unsolicited advice and it sounds like it was actually important advice to receive and your life improved as a consequence. Do you now like your friend less?
>[do not] give unsolicited advice to friends, family, acquaintances, or even strangers
>one dear friend [gave me unsolicited advice which helped]
Avoid people that can't stand facts? Isolation sucks.
Or not. However, if the concern is to state facts, then it's not really a communication because it ignores the reception and betrays the actual intention of the fact-stater.
Definitely pay attention to the audience. If they're bored or off-put by advice, stop it. Maybe slip an apology in.
But part of being yourself, (generally what people advise!) is being OK with some people not enjoying your approach. Other people will enjoy a nice troubleshooting session and they'll stick around.
At the beginning of our relationship, I can't tell you how many times I heard, "I'm not asking for you to solve my problem, I just want you to listen!"
It can be frustrating, I know, but just shut up and be there for the person that just needs you to be there.
Occasionally people do legitimately want your advice & perspective and to be careful about it you can precede it with "would you like to hear my perspective/advice?"
"If you cut across on Maple, you can skip that slow light on Main Street."
"Nice. I'll try that next time."
I struggle with this a lot. My life is so focused on problem-solving that my mind doesn't generate anything else. Sure I can say a few empty words of empathy and sympathy but that leaves a lot of empty air to fill and using tools is all I got and I can't remember a time when I wasn't like this.
I don't think any malicious intent was involved. They just tried to protect their fragile egos, and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also, I was stupid enough to listen.
If a person does not want to discuss my advice - they cannot give me feedback about my advice.
If I cannot get that feedback - why do I need that person in my life in the first place?
So when I give unsolicited advice -- I implicitly encourage people I do not need in my life - to disconnect from me. That frees my attention to people who are good with using advise as a tool for improvement.
When somebody has lost a loved one, never say "I know just how you feel, blah blah".
In fact, this is when you MUST say you can't imagine how they feel. Then listen.
It has been somewhat difficult to turn off that "always helping" part of me - and to be frank it will probably never go away completely which I don't think is a bad thing - but substantial progress has been made.
As part of the process you learn that you’re not there to offer solutions, you’re there to listen and let those people find their own solution.
You know, like the rubber duck.
Also, I believe you're right. I've experienced both sides.
I strongly disagree here. Friends should try and help friends IF they have the skills to do so. And we should all try and learn how, while recognising our limitations (I'm an engineer stereotype so I don't pretend to myself I am very skilled).
I agree that knowing when to keep your mouth shut is obligatory, and I completely agree it is extremely difficult to help without alienating.
You should know some people who do have the skills to gently and successfully help others, often older and less obvious. I personally try and learn that skill by copying their tact and non-judgement. Beware that many people completely lack the skills even though their job should need it (I've seen nurses, psychologists, social workers etc with nearly zero ability - Dunning Kruger?).
> People will ask for advice if they really want it
Yet there are plenty of counter-examples, especially when people lack the insight to even see their own problems.
> I’ve lost friends over this
I've risked losing friends over this when I've felt strongly about it. Take time to myself to think about whatever the issue is. Losing a friend can be better than not trying to help a friend.
Acquantances are different: personally I let most people do what they will - who am I to judge their path? How can I help if I don't know them well, and I am not around as needed? I guess there are people that can and do help in a short encounter, but either they are uncommon or I don't recognise the skill.
Not saying this applies to everyone, but I think it's helpful for people who approach their social anxiety with a type-A mentality.
You are going to be dumb, lame, awkward, etc at pretty much anything you haven't done before; the only path to not being that way is to just tough it through that awkward phase.
It's tough, and the worst part is that there's no way out or hope for things to improve. And you can't complain or seek help, or you get treated like someone who must be broken to feel that way. It's an impersonal and judgemental world that we live in today, no matter who you are or what your views are like.
No wonder so many people seem to feel that our current culture and society are so vehemently toxic that they aren't worth even trying to participate in.
But you also can't opt out of online socializing if you want to meet and keep in touch with people.
Social rejection is how you learn to be social, and it ain’t gonna ruin your life. It’s just painful.
He wasn’t even fired. What is there to complain about? Cancel culture is a myth.
A great example of satirizing the movement would be 30 Rock's "Idiots are people two!"
Edit: also that you dismissed it, even though googling my comment verbatim would've given you a source, shows that you're starting at your conclusion then working backwards. Trolling isn't appreciated
FWIW I preserved my original comment in good faith. I don’t appreciate your not recognizing my edits.
I believe you're overblowing the frequency of this happening.
This is what happens when children aren't allowed time to play with fellow kids. They'll won't learn much needed social skills when the social/emotional cost is low.
Wasn't this more the case for our ancestors? You make a mistake, and you're banished from the tribe or you don't reproduce. In modern times, the stakes aren't as high, but our emotions haven't yet recalibrated.
Think you're the only one being dumb/lame/awkward? Regardless of actually you being one of those things, chances are the other person is actually thinking the same.
Everyone tries to distinguish these two, it's mostly just in the eye of the beholder - IMO aggression is just assertion when it's judged to be inappropriate or incompetently done - a drill instructor being assertive looks different to a police officer in a stand-off which is different to how you talk to co-workers - the distinction is highly contextual and subjective.
I think a lot of people with poor social skills thinks the aggression / assertion line is all about being angry or shouty or rude. Assertion uses a bunch of tools (including potentially - a louder or quieter voice, appearing angry, threats, manipulations, etc) to achieve a goal. Doing so in an inappropriate way is seen as aggressive (e.g. threatening to quit over a minor issue). Overusing any given tool (e.g. swearing a lot instead of realising a different tool is needed) is seen as incompetent (or losing control) thus it's seen as aggressive. But fundamentally there's no real objective difference.
It’s 90% niceties and explaining .map over and over again.
Similar things can be observed in many meetups and some companies. Everything is awesome. Everybody is nice. People shy away from deciding anything. Even the simple act of two people wanting to go through the same door at the same time is an impossible conundrum.
No matter how important psychological safety is (and it really is), a constant state of coddling serves nobody.
Tangential, but I hit this issue very often with couple of friends during university years; two of us wanted to go through a door, and get stuck in a "you go", "no, you go", "I insist" loop. At some point I said, "you know what, let's do rock-paper-scissors, if you lose you go first". It immediately caught on with my friends, and ever since that, when attempting to go through a door at the same time, we'd just exchange looks, and immediately play a wordless round of rock-paper-scissor to resolve the conflict, while the rest of the class looked at us and asked "WTF just happened?!".
I believe that the optimal solution to this problem is to offer, and then if there is a counter-offer, take it. If the other person is offended then they have followed the letter of the social law but do not understand it in their hearts. In addition, it is often polite to take what is offered to you.
La extrema urbanidad y cortesía
agota y cansa la paciencia mía.
Figúrate lector, y es un ejemplo,
que entrar queremos en sala, alcoba o gabiente
y que somos por juntos seis o siete.
¿No es un feroz y bárbaro tormento el
"pase Usted primero" y "faltaría mas, caballero"?
Y han así de pasar horas galanes y señoras,
estando todos ellos convencidos
de lo inútiles que son tales cumplidos.
Voy a dar aquí un mínimo consejo,
y mírese quien quiera en este espejo:
cuando te digan que pases adelantes,
no te hagas rogar, pasa al instante.
(Other... "unusual" behaviors include standing in the pouring rain for an entire hour till the other gives up, passing the party leadership onto each other for a solid 10 minutes until one of us starts the game queue...)
Rock, paper, scissors might work too. Haven't tried that.
There are cases where marking errors is done to belittle, offend, portray incompetence, etc.; however it shouldn't be too hard to avoid those perils -- it's just a matter of showing how mistakes are (mostly, and to a measure) inevitable, not disqualify the person for the mistake (i.e. recognize it's something that is not inherent and can be fixed). Avoid broadcasting mishaps (communicate one-to-one), be supportive when pointing things out, and the environment is going to be better for everyone.
Superficial niceness might be worse than sincere harshness indeed. But the best is bold sincerity and support, which ultimately creates trust and robust, enduring relations.
One can be assertive without being aggressive and aggressive without being assertive. They are different characteristics.
Assertive and not aggressive - deciding to speak up instead of being silent. "Excuse me, can you explain this decision to me?"
Aggressive and not assertive - being passive-aggressive, giving people the silent treatment / cold shoulder / "cancel culture", and similar behaviors.
edit: I'm saying - where you draw the line is about things like whether it's competent, and whether it's "OK" within the contex. A polite "excuse me" is both competent and almost always "OK". A polite legal threat might not be "OK" (and it might not be competent either) so whether you judge it to be aggressive will depend on your point of view.
One can also be awkward but not polite, polite but not awkward, and politely awkward. They're just different characteristics.
I think it would be a mistake to characterize assertiveness as just a subset of aggression, defined as all aggressive acts less the inappropriate ones, or the reverse, as you seem to be arguing here. I think it's more accurate to say there's a very small set of cases where they overlap.
Most advice given to men how to be more socially adaptive is actually advice how to best be taken advantage of. It has nothing to do with their own best interest.
Assertiveness is considerate and has compassion for the recipient, considers how our assertion may affect the recipient, may offer understanding and empathy for their situation, then asserts our need by taking personal ownership and using "I" language, etc.
The real world doesn't coddle you. Work should reflect that to some degree - with some respect to being a decent person in general. Just knowing that you know your shit, and it's okay (preferred even), if you fight to be your own advocate.
There's a balance between negative and positive reinforcement. We can't simply look at being "nice" to each other all the time as an optimal solution. It's a great way to get completely side-swiped by someone who is even only slightly aggressive.
If I have a terrible idea, I'd rather hear someone tell me that it's a shit idea than patronizingly tend to my "feelings" on the matter.
A week ago I saw an animal documentary where a lion was attacked by a pack of hyenas. A while later, another lion saw the situation and ran to help; the hyenas knew they couldn't take two lions so they fled. Afterwards, the lions cuddled. Both lions benefited: the first one might help the second one out in the future.
I would argue that one of the reasons why humans have taken over the world is that we help eachother and work together. If Bob has a bad knee and can't hunt, it doesn't mean Bob is useless and we should kill him. Bob can stay home and build weapons for the hunters.
Of course, if Bob is taking advantage of the situation and does fuck-all, positive reinforcement won't do anything. However, it does not mean the environment has to continually be abrasive and competitive, especially not for the rest of the group who are doing their job.
If my idea is better than my coworkers, I want that celebrated. If theirs is better, I want that celebrated, even if that means telling me that my idea isn't great.
Edit: Also, if Bob is doing fuck-all, he should expect to be kicked out of the group. He can find another tribe that accepts his bullshit (until they eventually drop him as well), or learn to carry his own weight before being reaccepted - by means of crafting weapons or providing in some other way as you mention. "Safe spaces" to me, are akin to allowing Bob to stick around and mooch off the group indefinitely because kicking him out wouldn't be very nice. Nature says you provide for the group, or you go. It's harsh, but real.
By contrast, environments that provide psychological safety enable people who may have better ideas, but may not be as brash and overconfident to contribute.
I always felt that those sessions were more productive than just going around the table or people just speaking up.
I think great leadership is when someone notices that happening and shuts it down.
I prefer environments that teach you how to advocate for your ideas. Build you up as a good self-advocate.
Environments that say "Hey everybody! It's Timmy's turn to speak. Pass him the talking stick" are patronizing and disgust me at the onset.
Better to have someone by your side saying, "Timmy, speak up! You have a great idea. Tell everyone"
His point is that there isn't much correlation between good ideas and assertive personalities, so if you incentivize the latter you won't necessarily get the former. I'm inclined to agree with that.
A man of culture!
I think we can call in the Pareto Principle here. After a certain point, assertiveness / aggressiveness becomes zero-sum (or worse). But getting to the point where everyone worth listening to has had a chance to speak gives you a lot of bang for your buck. You can either have an environment which enables this (everyone gets the talking stick) or train everyone to have a baseline of assertiveness skills.
The baseline shouldn't just be "excuse me, I have a question" scenarios though. The baseline has to be sufficient to handle stuff like "I think my boss is screwing up big time".
You are probably right.
I don't have a good argument for getting your good idea recognized by others, if you are not an assertive type, other than learning to fight harder for it be heard, or finding someone to fight hard for you.
There may not be a correlation between good ideas and assertive personalities, but if you aren't at least somewhat assertive, I just won't hear your idea.
It's like playing a song in your basement and wondering why no one is praising your musical talent. Get yourself out in the real world and play in front of people, loudly enough for them to hear you!
This is an idealized version of the system and a million things can go wrong, but it seems like the only way that makes any sense.
Having worked at IBM Austin in the '90s, I'd tend to agree. The management style was very much "the loudest person in the room makes the decision." It did not end well.
I actually personally think its useful to say that in order to shut up overly opinionated people without publicly pointing them out and putting them immediately on the defensive. Opinionated people are also incredibly opinionated on their opinions, of course, and it's more efficient to sidestep that altogether.
I'm engaging in the conversation by bringing my points to the table. I see it as an idealistic proposal that doesn't match my understanding of reality. It is very plausible that I am wrong - please explain to me how you disagree, I'm happy to listen. Seriously.
Just because someone has an idea doesn't mean I have to immediately agree with it or like it. Feel free to disagree with me on this, as it would prove my point. It's your right after all.
It is not that you gave contra arguments, you just ignored.
Which is exactly issue with most confident win system.
You may regard an alternative as "idealistic", and it may be, but the alternative is how many existing environments are supposed to work, if you press those involved hard enough, and is frequently pretty bad at sorting ideas.
Exactly. I am very happy to be proven wrong, given the arguments against my position are good. A lot of people shy away from criticizing ideas, thinking that a person will take it as a personal attack (gotta admit, I am guilty of this too, if I don't know the person well enough to assume they take criticism well).
When it is the fight for the best idea or solution, I don't care how wrong I am, I care about finding the "truth" aka the best solution given the situation. As long as the criticism is directed towards the idea and not the person, I am just as happy, regardless of whether my idea won or not (as long as the idea that won had better arguments for it).
Further I don’t think a loud environment (again, putting it simply)and psychological safety are mutually exclusive.
One can be loud and assertive without tearing each other down.
Being justified in a social setting means other people need to agree with you.
It involves directly addressing the matter at hand; why it is you are justified in confronting somebody. It can also be tactful if you get the person you are confronting to be very specific on the details and why they did something worth being confronted about.
The crowd will decide on their own, but if you truly are justified in confronting somebody then you should have solid foundation for debate.
Now, certain crowds practice mob justice, but that's another thing entirely.
Just advocate for yourself and the things you care about. It's not always easy, but that doesn't necessarily mean aggression.
It's like asking out someone on a date. If you have less experience, you'll probably do so in a dumb way and are more likely to seem like you're harassing them.
There's a lot of gaslighting that the line is aggression / assertion line is primarily about your internal state (mind reading arguments are often a good sign people are wrong), but the line is often about competence.
Pretending people should never be assertive means we aren't letting them develop competence except through experience. Developing competence through experience (without any clear direction) is like letting people learn to drive by letting them crash a bunch of times and learn from it which is hardly optimal.
In doing this, we can more often achieve what we want, and have more support to do so. As Jon also touches on, there will always be people who just aren't interested in giving you the benefit of the doubt, but more often than not, based on the explanations you give them, they extrapolate to something completely different then what's in your mind at the time.
- If you aren't good at speaking in a captivating way, literally write out your best stories. People who are good at telling stories get this way from practice: introverts naturally get less practice and thus tend to be less talented at speaking. You can do a significant amount of practice on a story without a partner - develop a few 2-3 minute anecdotes about yourself that have a clear beginning, middle and punchline, and cut all extraneous information that doesn't enhance the listeners enjoyment or teach them something positive about your character. If the conversation with a new person touches on something from one of your anecdotes, you will be able to quickly go into your anecdote and be engaging. The process of editing a couple stories will teach you to revise future stories without writing them down explicitly.
- The Cube is a really great icebreaker when meeting new people and conversation is petering out. https://oliveremberton.com/2014/how-to-connect-deeply-with-a... A couple times, I've captivated groups of 4-6 strangers for about an hour with this. Everyone likes talking about themselves, and it gives people a framework to discuss their self perceptions in a fun way, and everyone learns some things about each other. (The mappings are somewhat arbitrary, I learned it with ladder as work and flowers as friends)
"I imagined a small dark cube with a light in the middle".
"Cube represents self, do you think small and dark with light in the middle is a good representation of how you perceive yourself?"
"Not really because I'm actually much more ____" When given this context, I found many people will give surprisingly long and interesting justifications for or arguments against their answers.
- First, the most shallow interpretation, it sorta works. Not really of course, but I could believe based on empirical evidence that the "mind projecting itself on abstract objects" isn't totally BS.
- Second, when you get explained the supposed meanings of each element, you enter an introspective phase. You think about whether it does apply to you, "am I actually a fairly transparent person?", "do I expect my partner to be a part of me?". It doesn't really matter what you answered at first, it's your reflection about it that should lead to a mildly interesting self-questioning
- Third, and that's what people good at "basic social skills" have understood, it doesn't even matter if you personally didn't get any insight on yourself, or even if nobody around did. It's a door-opener, a way to engage with people around you, to get personal with them. Is it a shallow outlook on them? Doesn't matter, it's a start, a bond that you can strengthen continuing the discussion.
I do not.
He said that he does not like talking about himself - perhaps that is even why
thfuran's comment was short and concise. He did not say that he does not talk about himself.
More seriously, start off cold but adapt to your surroundings and warm up quickly?
When I've done it for multiple people, I have each person give their answer for an item before moving onto the next section. This keeps it so everyone feels like they are participating (and usually I've had to talk very little besides reminding the prompt and keeping the circle moving, maybe ask some probing descriptive questions for short answers). Then once everyone has given their answers, reveal the 'meaning' of each thing one at a time, and ask people whether you think it is correct for them. The beauty of the test is that even if it's completely wrong - you'll learn about the person from their explanation of why the reading was off base.
Similar one "walk in the forest" https://forum.gateworld.net/threads/20610-A-walk-in-a-forest