People in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.
You have probably heard this saying at least once in your life. Maybe you have used it yourself or had it expressed to you—I know I have experienced both. Here’s the thing. I think this should be revised:
People. Don’t throw rocks.
There. I said it. Whether you are in a glass house, a normal house, an apartment, outside, whatever… people should throw metaphorical rocks. Ever! Basically, I see this symbolic rock-throwing as just another form of bullying. Yes, it may be much more mile and “well-intentioned” but the point is: if you are “throwing rocks” whatever you are expressing was unsolicited.
If someone asks your advice or opinion on something, that is completely different. If they asked, they better be prepared to receive. I’ve experienced this in my life as well. Someone has asked about something potentially sensitive. My response is usually honest, whether for good or bad. You asked. I understand that many times people ask wanting positive affirmation, but I learned long ago that does no good for anyone.
I once had a delicate conversation with someone. We had a very good relationship. We could have discussions, and disagreements, and still be OK. We are two people who actually regularly disagree in our lives because we are on opposite sides of almost everything… Religion, Politics, etc. That said, we can have an argument and still come out friends. An argument doesn’t have to be negative. Hell, debate is an argument and there are high school clubs. It doesn’t have to be I’m right, you’re wrong, I hate you!
So, I had this delicate conversation where the person asked me a very pointed question. Without pausing I answered honestly. I am not including the question because it isn’t relevant—it could have been anything. I was asked the question and gave my short, but honest, answer. There was silence. I mean, uncomfortable silence. Silence to the point where I had to make sure they were still there (it was a phone conversation).
“Are you there?” (I actually called them by name).
“Yeah. I... just… I… Um… I guess I didn’t realize that is how you felt.”
“I’m sorry. I am always going to be honest with you. If you ask, I’m going to answer. So, if you don’t want to know the answer… Don’t ask the question.”
“No. I mean… I appreciate the honesty. You’re right. If I don’t want to hear the HONEST answer, I shouldn’t ask. I would do the same thing.”
OK. So that was the long was around to what I am getting at in this whole thing.
Recently someone reached out to me. By reach out, I mean, they “threw a rock.” This is actually someone I consider a friend, but they are more a friend-of-a-friend. I would not be friends with them except for the mutual friend.
While I completely agree with what they were saying to me and recognize that what they were saying came from the most well-intentioned place… it absolutely. Was. Not. Their. Place. They had no business sticking their nose in, but they did. Even the mutual friend agreed.
Now, let me say that this is a person KNOWN for speaking the unsolicited uncensored mind. While I appreciate honesty rather than sugar-coating things, it doesn’t mean you SHOULD just speak your truth to anyone at any moment.
You don’t have to tell that woman who just walked in that you hate her dress. You don’t have to tell your friend you hate their date—on their first date. You don’t have to unload anyone unsolicited. You just don’t. Sure, there are exceptions to this. If you have a coworker you don’t get along with, you have to figure that out. But most situations do not compel you to speak your mind simply because it is on your mind.
So, this person reached out to tell me their thoughts and feelings on something. They were very pointed and direct, and true-to-form, uncensored. I read their rather long, for text, message. My first read made my blood boil. I am extremely non-confrontational, but I wanted to punch them in the face at that moment. Even though I agreed with what they were saying, I was so angry they were inserting themselves into something in which they were involved.
I took a minute to breathe. My next reaction was to respond to each and every item they pointed out. I wanted to fight back and correct everything they had wrong. I wanted to show them how they needed to “butt out” of other people’s business. “This is why people don’t like you,” I thought. You are such an asshole because you have to tell everyone your opinion, EVEN when they don’t want it.
They are passing judgement or giving advice based on the information they believe is the whole picture. Yes, they are going from “what they have,” but they don’t know if what they have is everything, most, or just one portion. It’s like I blindfold you, say reach out and grab whatever is in front of you and tell me where you are. You reach out and respond, “It’s sand. A sandbox” I take off your blindfold and you see you are in a sandbox. Oh, but more of the picture. I say turn to the right, and you see you are in a playground. Oh. I say turn a little more and you see an elementary. Oh, There’s the whole picture.
I didn’t want it. I didn’t ask for it. Our mutual friend hadn’t requested it. Still, this person felt a compulsion to share their stance on “things” with me.
My gut and my head wanted to point out all the faults and ill-informed positions of everything mentioned in the message. I wanted to humiliate them. I wanted to show them what an asshole they were. I wanted to explain how they do this all the time and it annoys people.
I took another minute to breathe.
My response was simple. I thanked them. I agreed with them. I mentioned a couple of things I was doing the aligned with what they said. I thanked them again, and sent the message.
While I didn’t expect to hear back from them, I did expect our mutual friend to hear about the interaction. I told the mutual friend about what happened because we have talked about how this person inserts themselves into business which is not theirs. We commiserated on how that is “just the way they are,” and “their heart is in the right place,” but “it’s none of their business in the end.”
A few days later, I found out this person contacted our mutual friend about the interaction.
“I hope I didn’t upset him… or you. I just… I just think it is important he hears the truth. I think he is great, but I think he needs to know the reality of the situation. I wasn’t trying to be rude.”
“No,” our friend said, “you weren’t TRYING to be rude. You just ARE rude. Sorry. That’s just the way you are. You are honest. You are blunt. You are direct. But honestly,. Sometimes you just need to not. This was a time for you to not. It’s too late. What’s done is done. But this is the reason you piss everyone off. This wasn’t YOUR thing. This wasn’t something you NEEDED to insert yourself into, but you did. He accepted for what it is, and he is an open, patient, and understanding person. That’s why he responded the way he did. He wanted to respond to all your inaccuracies. He wanted to tell you to eff off. He wanted to fight back. Guess what? He didn’t. Why? Because HE is the bigger person. He is willing to accept the criticism for what it is. He is willing to accept that you overstep your bounds ALL THE TIME. He is willing to acknowledge the truth in what you said and simply respond, thank you.”
“Well, he needed to hear it” the person replied.
“Yes. Yes, he did. And he has. He has heard it from the people in his life who need to share it. That’s not you.”
“No well… Someday you are going to have to learn to butt the f*** out of people’s lives or you are not going to have anyone in YOUR life. You do this all the time and it is not appropriate. It is NOT normal. And it is NOT winning you any new fans.
While appreciated finding out the “backup” I was given, once again, my reaction was wanting to punch this person in the face. They still felt they were in the right.
This is where the glass houses thing comes in. This person, like everyone, has their own s*** to deal with. As even they said, they are not perfect. They didn’t elaborate on their imperfections, but I know MANY of them. I’m not going to list any of them here because it doesn’t matter what they are.
The point is, we all have our stuff to take care of. My feeling is… Clean up you own house (glass or otherwise). This person has their own things (big things) to work out. To start pointing out the flaws of another individual, no matter their validity, is just silly.
If I were an extremely close long-term friend, family member, partner/spouse things might be different. That is a person you are truly connected to and you want the best for them. However, to reach out to a friend-of-a-friend with your unsolicited opinion… you should expect lash-back.