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how not to be obnoxious/belittling

October 6, 2005   

Apropos of nothing, I figured I’d do this how-to. Let’s say your friend tells you about a problem or situation and how she (or he — I’ll just use she because whatever) handled it. Let’s also say that the way she handled it seemed to be unobvious and that a different obvious solution pops into your mind.

You can handle this situation in one of two ways:
1. Assume your friend is an idiot and didn’t know any better.
2. Assume that there were more influential factors that her overview did not illuminate and that she is smart enough to have considered the trivially obvious solution and rejected it for a good reason.

I respect my friends and think highly of them, so I opt for choice 2. And it’s nice when my friends do the same for me. Here are sample scenarios:

Case 1.
Friend: We decided to buy a house in [less than desireable location].
Me: That place sucks. I would never buy a place there. You should buy the worst house in a great neighborhood instead.
Friend: *punches me in the face*

Case 2.
Friend: We decided to buy a house in [less than desiereable location].
Me: What made you guys decide on that place? I am wondering because I know you know it’s not the greatest for [whatever reason], so I know there must have been something awesome that made this the best choice for you.
Friend: [long boring yet rational explanation that makes perfect sense]

Seppo and I frequently ran/still run into this situation:

Us: Welcome to our house! It’s crazy, we know.
Friend: How much have you guys put into it?
Us: X amount for house and Y amount for repairs.
Friend: OMG, you should just have torn the place down and rebuilt it. It would have been cheaper.
Us: You are so right! *slap selves on foreheads* We never thought of such a thing! We would have been so much better off if we were as smart as you! Gosh, I never considered that option! *kill friend with frickin’ laserbeams*

I’ve run into this situation a few times:
Me: [tells story of some shitty thing someone did to my parents because they don’t speak English]
Friend: They should learn English.
Me: *dies from apoplexy*

Well DUH. DUH on a STICK. Wow, I’m so glad you shared this amazing tidbit of wisdom that I never once considered! Shocking! I ::heart:: you forever!