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home : people : opinions October 04, 2015

9/6/2013 12:10:00 AM
Casual, Cursory, Candid, Cobbled Comments
By Cecil Acuff

Being a better Small- Talker should not include being a Large-Advice giver.

The weather may be a good way to start a friendship, but to tell someone, "You should have known to bring an umbrella today," is not one of them. A second Small-Talk way of introducing oneself is a firm handshake but does not include a best-grip contest.

Small-Talkers may ask questions to seek a topic of common interest. Well, that doesn't mean as soon as the ask-ee responds, don't say, "Here's my advice, the XYZ Tiddledly Winks Company is a great investment."

If you're talking to someone who quotes the "Friendship Song,"If you're ever in a jam, here I am. If you're in a mess, S-O-S." Proceed with caution. "Ask; What-a-ya mean, what jam, what mess."

After the Friendship making, seek a graceful exit, but be careful what you ask for. "How's the wife doing?" "We suffered a 3-year bitterly contested divorce. We lost almost everything, the lawyers and banks gained almost everything!"

Headline, "The Perils of Giving Advice In Life, Married or Not Married." The battle of "what he says vs. what she said." Many men like to instruct or share advice. Women often hear the advice as condescending. He says, "You need to ask your boss for a raise." She hears, "You've got a lot to learn about getting ahead." He says, This is how you cut an onion." She hears, "So you're the cook in this house?" She says, "Black shoes will go better with blue slacks." He thinks, "Who cares. No one's gonna look down at my shoes." She says, "You talk too much with your sad little un-funny stories when we're out with friends." He thinks, "You say so little, people will think I married a dummy." The problem: the thinks will become, "No Thanks, I think I'll go elsewhere."

The whole advice issue is typically most difficult to navigate between spouses or partners; who should know each other best, but may not. Two familiar phrases of communication; "I know what you should do, and here's my advice," and, "What's that supposed to mean?"

Unsolicited advice from one person can bring unsolicited advice from another. Perhaps people should borrow from business: No Solicitors Allowed.

In a study of six studies that followed 100 couples for the first seven years of marriage, researchers at the University of Iowa found that husbands and wives (a comment: why is this always husbands first?)feel lower marital satisfaction when when they are given too much advice from the other, as opposed to too little. And, no surprise, unsolicited advice is the most dangerous kind.

In another study, researchers taped spouses discussing a problem of one; maybe a weight or smoking problem, while the partner offered advice. They then examined positive and negative behaviors of each person during the process.

The result was expected: the person asking for or receiving support is more important to the health of the relationship than the one giving the advice. Also, when too little advice (who determines that?), is given, men suffered more. Researchers believe this is because men often look to their wives as their primary source of encouragement. But wives lean on friends and other loved ones, in addition to Hubby.

Even after decades of being together, spouses and partners think they know how the other interprets words. But they cannot. Humans are too complex. Advice will be thought as criticism, and vice-versa. It would be wise to become accustomed to different approaches, "Would you like some ideas on tha?" The Golden Rule applies. Not the one which says, "Do unto me as I say, because I'm the ruler here." But, "Treat others as you want to be treated."

Couples should use other approaches. One spouse may relate a story of past reactions to a similar present- day problem. The other spouse can say, "I appreciate your story, but my situation is different." Or, maybe, "I'm not seeking advice at this time."

One can only imagine retorts of antagonistic spouses, "Who asked you.?" "When I want your advice, I'll ask for it!" Since when have you become an Expert. Most of the time , Experts are little Spurts from out-of-town."

Two people will never completely know each other. But they should continually seek that goal. A song: "I've grown accustomed to your face/You make the day begin/I've grown accustomed to the tune/You whistle night and noon." "Your smiles, your frowns/Your ups and downs/Are second nature to me now/Like breathing out and in." "I was serenely independent/And content before we met/Surely I could always be/That way again." "I've grown accustomed to your looks/Accustomed to your voice/Accustomed to your face."

The actress Cher once said, "Some women get all excited over nothing, then they marry the guy!" Obviously, these women never heard the advice of Ralph Waldo Emerson; Poet, Philosopher, Lecturer, Essayist, and above all, Naturalist: "Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience."

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