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September 24, 2009

How to make people less likely to want to enhance your life


It's very easy.

Simply do what most people do: when someone tells or gives you something or sends you a link or a photo or anything you already have or have read or seen, first thing say, "Oh, I saw/knew/have that."

Me, I see a lot but you'll never, ever hear me saying that.


Because the instant you deflate the other person's bubble of joy at giving you something they think you'll like, you make it much more likely that next time they'll reflexively think, "the heck with him/her, why bother?"

And you'll be sure to miss out on something that would've indeed been a wonderful surprise as a result of your having been so full of yourself you just had to show how up to the minute you were.

Common courtesy demands graciousness, perhaps an increasingly lost art but still one worth cultivating, not only for your own good but that of those around you.

A simple "thank you" works beautifully.

Always has, always will.

September 24, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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Thanks so much for this post, Joe! I've been (low level) trying to figure out why I feel bad and full of trepidation every time I chat with my neighbor. Not only does she do the 'I know this already' bit but her favorite is 'You told me that yesterday.' Ans then I feel bad AND stupid! No more. :)(:

Posted by: Pamela Daley | Sep 27, 2009 10:31:07 PM

I think you gotta pick your battles on this one.

There are hundreds of scenarios (well, maybe dozens) in which it's a lovely sentiment that should be deployed.

And there are just as many where the Pollyannaish attitude gets in the way of actual communication (see widgets discussion above).

There's nothing wrong with saying, "Hey, that's neat, thanks -- I actually did see that recently, and it was so great! I'm glad you reminded me." Etc.

Posted by: Randee | Sep 27, 2009 12:08:21 AM

If someone is devasted because they sent me a picture or a silly link I have already seen then they need a mental health facility

This fragile eggshell feelings business of the interwebs is dumb

Posted by: Fritz | Sep 24, 2009 6:44:24 PM

I wholeheartedly agree with the simple thank you although you've seen/heard/have it.

That said, then comes this scenario:
A: Hey, you've got ten widgets on your shelf here -- I thought you said you didn't have any widgets!
B. Well, yeah, I had a couple.
A: When I gave you that widget the other day you acted like you'd never SEEN a widget!
B. I've seen them, but I LOVE them! I love widgets! I welcome ALL widgets!
A: Well damn, I wouldn't given you one if I'd known you already had a shelf full!
B. No -- I LOVE the one you gave me! It's one of my favorites!
A: Shit, I could've gotten you something else...you should've TOLD me you didn't need any...
B. I LOVE WIDGETS! I would take a hundred widgets!
A: Well, next time when I ask if you like it or already have one, I wish you'd tell me the truth so I could get something else...

You can't win.

Posted by: Flautist | Sep 24, 2009 5:53:51 PM

Also curbs those wonderful individuals who forward every single thing sent to them...

Posted by: Jesse | Sep 24, 2009 5:11:33 PM


Posted by: Joe Peach | Sep 24, 2009 4:45:45 PM

I got this advice a while ago...

Posted by: clifyt | Sep 24, 2009 3:24:50 PM

hmmm... couldn't agree more but I seem to remember a cell phone charger offer once...

Posted by: Milena | Sep 24, 2009 3:06:09 PM

I guess this is similar to smiling and laughing at the stories my grandmother tells, even though we've heard them all a bunch of times.

We smile and laugh at them because we're afraid she'll get self-conscious and not talk much any more.

BTW, they are good stories, just not the 20th time you've heard them.

Posted by: EEJ | Sep 24, 2009 3:03:19 PM

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