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 truth. 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.
Tags: family, second chances, truth