By Paul Warrington
Tired of your friends making fun of you? Tired of the taunts and finger-pointing and references to inappropriate parts of the human anatomy? Well stop screaming like a girl when ladybugs crawl by. I wrote this article because I can’t tell you how many times I hear friends complain about this or that. They whine about the weather, when it’s too dry or too wet, when it’s too hot or too cold, when their clothes stick or when their hats fly away. Sometimes I just want to tell them, “why in the hell do you live in New Orleans?” But sadly I know why. They didn’t choose to live here. They were chosen. But that doesn’t mean they have to be burdens on the rest of us, right? As a solution I’ve decided to offer a few quick tips for our skittishly annoying friends. Hopefully they’ll read them, though we both know they’ll probably complain about the font or the size of the font or the fact that it isn’t double-spaced with one-inch margins.
1. Make Big Problems Smaller
Start by biting off only what you can chew. When you’re getting ready to start a project or a new job, don’t try to impress anybody with what you’re willing to take on. Learn from the people that know what they’re doing and then grab what you think you can honestly handle. Nothing is worse than hearing someone say, “I’ll paint these two rooms,” then listening to them complain about taking on an unfair portion of the work. Instead do the humble thing and ask. Asking “What can I do?” is always a safe option. This stems from the fact that humility never hurts. Most humble people also happen to be honest and honesty is worth its weight in gold.
I also mean literally don’t put more on your plate than you’re capable of eating. Know your limits. That way when it looks like you won’t accomplish something, your friends will feel more obligated to help you and less obligated to kick you in the ass.
2. Refrain From Name-Calling
If someone calls you a “pudding” don’t counter by calling them a “jerk.” In fact don’t counter them at all. I’ve found that two whiners are prone to name calling and not to productive conversation. That’s not to say you should try opening a meaningful dialogue with a name-caller. The point of all this: Don’t let another whiner turn you into a whiner. I’ve found that a lot of complaints come from those that don’t really have complaints but have simply jumped on the wrong end of a band wagon. Be reasonable. When someone complains, they don’t want to fix the problem, they just want to vent their frustrations. Instead of taking this opportunity to start a pissing party, try solving the problem instead.
3. The Best Excuse is No Excuse
Can’t go to the party? Don’t feel like helping me paint my house? Say so. Sadly I’ve been known to abuse this rule myself. Sometimes you want to be so accommodating that you forget you can’t really do all the things you promise. And then, you feel the need to make excuses when the promises you made aren’t possible. Once again, keep it simple. Say “no” when the answer is no and say “yes” only after sincere and reflective forethought. Any friend that gets crabby when they hear you say “no” isn’t a real friend and doesn’t deserve the excuse you were going to craft up anyway. And an unaccommodating friend that wants to seem accommodating is about as desirable as a pimple on the bottom of your eyelid.
4. Pick Your Battles
Some wars on not worth being fought, some drama really is better saved for your mama. If you haven’t noticed most of these tips focus on discretion. Unfortunately few people truly understand what it means to be discrete. To be discrete you have to think before you act, you have to understand yourself and the situation, you have to be considerate and thoughtful not just of yourself but of others. A discrete person knows wearing tight spandex to a wedding is inappropriate and texting during a family dinner is unacceptable. An indiscrete person will do what they want when they want. When they suffer they want everyone to suffer with them, even if that means making an effort to ensure others suffer. Now I’ll say this for the cheap seats, it’s one thing not to like the food or service at a restaurant that is known to have questionable food or service, but to go to a restaurant where the food and service are suspect and to complain about what you’ve already suspected is ridiculous. Don’t go to IHOP and expect the Belgian waffles to remind you of Europe. They won’t. They’ll remind of you IHOP, the sticky floors and the sticky seats, the tiny packets of butter and the lukewarm lemonade.
5. Follow Through
Dear Lord, I cannot stress this last tip enough. I stress it because I know it’s hard. I know most things are easier said than done, I know what you “want” to do and what you “can” do are usually two very different things. But if you say you’ll do something, try your very best to do it. By having no excuse I didn’t just mean for others, I meant for you as well. You’ll find that the better you become at making excuses, the more reasons you’ll find not to do this or that. It’ll be too hot or too cold to go for a run with friends, it’ll be too late for a drink or too early for a movie. You’ll build up walls that your friends will both not be able to climb and not want to in the first place.