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Has anyone else dealt with someone who doesn't want to listen to criticism/doesn't want to help themselves?


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I have posted this in the friends forum as it is the closest forum to this. I currently work with someone who is a couple of years older than me. For context, in our team, hierarchal speaking, I am the one with the authority. I have worked at this place for 2-3 years and they have been there longer than me.

On/off for these years, this person has repeatedly 'complained' about their quality of life. They have expressed that they are unhappy in this current job and want to look for something else, but are not making any efforts to further themselves. They did apply for a job recently, but were unsuccessful, but this job was very niche in terms of what they want to do. They are interested in entering a career that is very few and far between, and is not massively profitable/workable unless they are entering a certain field within it. They don't want to enter this particular field, and as such the cycle of complaints continue. I even saw a job the other day that would potentially appeal to them, and they flat out turned it away because it was not in their field of interest which you simply just cannot go into that easily.

What has led to this post is an incident which happened today. They are currently producing some stock to sell at a market stall on the weekend. They have been working a lot out of work hours in the last week and over the weekend, and I noticed this morning how tired they seemed. I asked how they were and they confirmed this. They also coughed at one point and said that they hope they hadn't caught their dad's current cold. I suggested to them that they may just be feeling a little rundown as that's sometimes how my body responds when I'm overworking myself. I asked how their products were coming along and they explained they still had a lot to do and that they planned to stay every evening this week after work (Monday-Friday). I suggested that it may be a better idea to chunk and manage the workload. I'm used to managing my time by setting myself realistic targets, and I explained that that was something that helped me. They immediately dismissed this, saying 'that doesn't work for me.' I then asked how they work best, and they responded with 'haphazardly and well'. I pointed out that it may be worth giving the targeting idea a try, as it appeared that their haphazard way of working was causing them some burnout. They dismissed it once again, and began getting more irritated. I just want to add that my suggestions were said very politely and in a friendly manner, and I was just trying to gage more into how they worked best. Eventually, I was annoyed with the way they were speaking to me, and told them that they were becoming quite stressful in their tone towards me. This ended the conversation, and this occurred at the beginning of the day.

Before I left work this evening, I asked them which of their products they were going to make this evening. They said they didn't know. I asked how many they felt they could make in the realistic time they had and they also said they didn't know. I don't really know anything about the process of making their stock or how long it takes, so these were all innocent questions. I suggested that they try setting the targets again. They repeated that that didn't work for them as they get angry when they don't meet it. I suggested they set a realistic target that could be easily achieved. The conversation began heating up again, to which point I just told them that I'm trying to help. They then raised their voice saying 'I don't want your help!' I told them that they seemed very stressed out by the whole situation and I was just trying to offer some advice that helps me so that I don't experience burnout. They told me they didn't want my help again and that they weren't stressed. I understand about gaslighting, so I immediately stopped saying they seemed stressed when they told me they weren't. It was also on the verge of spilling into an unprofessional outburst, so I explained to them that this was all being said as a means to offer advice and support. I decided to just leave the situation and walk away; the whole situation really irritated me. 

In hindsight, I perhaps wonder if I caused the clash later in the day, but I would appreciate advice from anyone who has dealt with someone who just does not help themselves. As much as I can see where I perhaps had some wrongdoing, it's getting frustrating hearing their constant complaining and then doing nothing to better the situation. I wonder if it's perhaps a pride thing, but I really don't think it's the way to behave to just dismiss people like that

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Why are you offering advice to someone that clearing does not want it?

They might not be happy and they may not do things the way you would, but I think you're missing the very clear message, to mind your own business. 

Save your breath and frustration. Only offer advice when asked for it.

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Step way back. Most people do not want chronic "suggestions" or micromanaging everything from their career to their health to their stress etc.

 If they are complaining too much,  limit your listening. Otherwise they are not asking you for tips on just about everything and anything. 

 Is there a romantic interest? You seem excessively overinvolved and overinvested in this person.

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9 minutes ago, Lambert said:

Why are you offering advice to someone that clearing does not want it?

They might not be happy and they may not do things the way you would, but I think you're missing the very clear message, to mind your own business. 

Save your breath and frustration. Only offer advice when asked for it.

Thanks, Lambert. I did think that. I'm not going to mention it anymore to them out of respect

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5 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Step way back. Most people do not want chronic "suggestions" or micromanaging everything from their career to their health to their stress etc.

 If they are complaining too much,  limit your listening. Otherwise they are not asking you for tips on just about everything and anything. 

 Is there a romantic interest? You seem excessively overinvolved and overinvested in this person.

Thanks Wiseman2. Am going to stop mentioning it anymore to them. I think it just comes more from a place of care, but I am aware that I could have perhaps pushed it a little too much today. Just going to make the effort to stop asking from now as it's clearly a topic that just seems to set us off

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You need to back off from complicated or complex people otherwise you'll infuriate them easily or so I've since learned the hard way.  There are several relatives and in-laws who are difficult people and the smartest thing for you to do is steer clear.  Enforce strong, healthy boundaries for yourself.  Maintain a professional, respectful, cool, safe distance.

Try getting a third party involved in your conversation whenever you have suggestions because 1:1 interactions has the risk of becoming heated.  Generally, with witnesses such as another colleague or manager in the conversation will cause people to behave better meaning more politely and cooperate. 

Regarding coughing, medicines or whatever, even though your intentions are good, don't be too nice and personal.  Wear a mask, stay away or whatever if you don't want to get sick.  I agree with Lambert.  Don't give unsolicited advice otherwise it will backfire.  This is how society is so grow accustomed to it.  Not everyone will be kind to you.  It is a mean world indeed. 

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Some people automatically assume that if someone's complaining about something that means they want advice. They don't. It's called venting.

If this guy's complaining bothers you, simply remove yourself. Say you're sorry he's having a bit of a rough time. Then excuse yourself.

Also, once they've declined your advice don't keep giving it. They don't want it.

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I think you did mean well. To me as an innocent third party bystander your advice does sound useful. However, I actually think you were being pushy in this situation and it's true that this person had never asked you for advice.

My Mum is actually a micro manager and she's constantly telling me what to do or that I'm doing things wrong. We even had a bad fight the other day because she didn't like my dress and kept telling me to get changed into other clothes. I'm nearly 37 just for context. People don't like being told what to do but especially if it's not actually their parents or a relative or friend. I think in that sense being told what to do is even worse because it's someone not close to you at all.

I'm not sure what you meant that you have more authority in your workplace. You didn't say that you are this person's manager or team leader. But even if you are, this matter that you were giving advice with is actually not work related. A manager can give advice or instructions to their employees about the job. But their personal life outside of their work is none of the manager's business and they shouldn't be giving advice about that.

I understand you meant well and you were trying to help, but as the person said to you the first time, they didn't want your help and they made it clear. It's also true that people are different and not every technique helps every person to prioritise or cope with stress. What works for you might not actually work for someone else.

I understand it's frustrating when someone complains about their life, but this person is just your colleague at work. If it was your family, friend or partner that may be different. Then you could give advice. In the case of a colleague you aren't close to them. So I think if you don't like how they behave then just be polite but keep your distance. I don't think it's your job to actually tell them how to live their life and I think that's why they got so upset.

I think unless you're actually friends, you seem to be crossing a line with thus colleague. You seem annoyed that they didn't apply for a job you suggested to them. They don't actually have to do that. It's OK to just casually say: "By the way, I saw this advertisement for this great job, would you like me to forward it to you?" If they say yes then you can send them the job ad, but this is where your involvement should end. Whether they want to apply for that job, or any other job, is actually none of your concern. This person is an adult so let them handle themselves and their own life. 

If you don't like them, or how they act or live, just keep your distance. You can't change people and this (presumably) doesn't affect you outside of work. So I think it may be best to stay out of it.

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32 minutes ago, Tinydance said:

I think you did mean well. To me as an innocent third party bystander your advice does sound useful. However, I actually think you were being pushy in this situation and it's true that this person had never asked you for advice.

My Mum is actually a micro manager and she's constantly telling me what to do or that I'm doing things wrong. We even had a bad fight the other day because she didn't like my dress and kept telling me to get changed into other clothes. I'm nearly 37 just for context. People don't like being told what to do but especially if it's not actually their parents or a relative or friend. I think in that sense being told what to do is even worse because it's someone not close to you at all.

I'm not sure what you meant that you have more authority in your workplace. You didn't say that you are this person's manager or team leader. But even if you are, this matter that you were giving advice with is actually not work related. A manager can give advice or instructions to their employees about the job. But their personal life outside of their work is none of the manager's business and they shouldn't be giving advice about that.

I understand you meant well and you were trying to help, but as the person said to you the first time, they didn't want your help and they made it clear. It's also true that people are different and not every technique helps every person to prioritise or cope with stress. What works for you might not actually work for someone else.

I understand it's frustrating when someone complains about their life, but this person is just your colleague at work. If it was your family, friend or partner that may be different. Then you could give advice. In the case of a colleague you aren't close to them. So I think if you don't like how they behave then just be polite but keep your distance. I don't think it's your job to actually tell them how to live their life and I think that's why they got so upset.

I think unless you're actually friends, you seem to be crossing a line with thus colleague. You seem annoyed that they didn't apply for a job you suggested to them. They don't actually have to do that. It's OK to just casually say: "By the way, I saw this advertisement for this great job, would you like me to forward it to you?" If they say yes then you can send them the job ad, but this is where your involvement should end. Whether they want to apply for that job, or any other job, is actually none of your concern. This person is an adult so let them handle themselves and their own life. 

If you don't like them, or how they act or live, just keep your distance. You can't change people and this (presumably) doesn't affect you outside of work. So I think it may be best to stay out of it.

Super true, Tinydance. Thank you so much for your comment. I definitely did mean for it to come from a good place, but I can completely see your point of view and has given me a lot to take away. As mentioned in some of my other responses, I'm dropping this situation now as I don't think it's best to converse with them about it anymore, but I'm definitely taking your advice on board

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3 hours ago, artsygirl said:

In hindsight, I perhaps wonder if I caused the clash later in the day, but I would appreciate advice from anyone who has dealt with someone who just does not help themselves. As much as I can see where I perhaps had some wrongdoing, it's getting frustrating hearing their constant complaining and then doing nothing to better the situation.

I think you did (inadvertently) cause both clashes, not just the first one. I know that you wanted to help, but what you didn't realize was that your help wasn't wanted. Here's your first clue that they didn't want help:

3 hours ago, artsygirl said:

I explained that that was something that helped me. They immediately dismissed this, saying 'that doesn't work for me.'

Perhaps you are someone who asks for help when you need it. Maybe you interpreted this person's complaints as a request for help. But it seems that this person is just a complainer. 

Complainers are the worst. They like to whine and cry about everything and they bring everyone around them down. My advice to you is to avoid this person as much as possible. That's how I deal with people like this.

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1 hour ago, artsygirl said:

Super true, Tinydance. Thank you so much for your comment. I definitely did mean for it to come from a good place, but I can completely see your point of view and has given me a lot to take away. As mentioned in some of my other responses, I'm dropping this situation now as I don't think it's best to converse with them about it anymore, but I'm definitely taking your advice on board

Yes I agree with the others -especially with someone you supervise or could -never offer unsolicited advice.  I get that it's tempting and so often comes from a place of care but even sometimes when someone actually asks for advice they don't want to hear it.  I've been in that situation too -like yours-with someone who was job hunting and being very unrealistic about her options under the circumstances.  Ironically I suggested she apply for X job - a job that was below her qualifications in one way but in another way it was a way for her to shift into the career she said she wanted.  She was very offended I even suggested it.  Yet, a couple of minutes later into the conversation she herself told me that she would consider it but for other reasons she wouldn't want to.  So, she just didn't want to hear it from me it seems.  (Yes I ended up having to keep my distance /have boundaries -her negativity was just overwhelming after awhile).

By contrast I have another friend who both vents and asks for advice but I've noticed again and again -she always wants my input.  She's got a thick skin and she's no nonsense and when I do give input it's clear to me she assumed I would -that I shouldn't have to ask. 

Sometimes I do especially if it's a more sensitive topic.  For example she's chosen to delay getting her son a covid vaccine.  I said to her very directly "I respect and support whatever decision you make, for what it is worth.  I am happy to listen to you about your reasons and concerns and I am not comfortable giving input -you are the parent and I know you know what is best."  

Bottom line -default is never offer unsolicited advice or tell someone what he or she already knows.  Be very careful about offering advice to someone you supervise.  And, listen to yourself -you've reached your limit with this person's venting and negativity.  It's not healthy.  And my sense is this is a man and there's also some complication here given the gender difference/potential attractions.

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My best friend for decades is a chronic complainer.  It's an endless loop of the same thing for years. Weight, money, men, money, weight, men.   She's incredibly intelligent, capable and very opinionated.  But at the same time she can't seem to get out of her own way.

I used to get frustrated and sometimes offer advise, especially if she asked for it. Even if the answer to her dilemma of the day was the most remedial thing to do, she won't do it. 

It took some time but I finally learned that she didn't want advise. She only wants attention.  The very things she complains about seem to work for her on some subconscious level or she wouldn't continue do them.  It's not my place to fix it.   I've also learned to distance myself from someone who won't help themselves.

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Hi all. I wanted to thank you for your time to comment. I have read them all and I am working to take them on board. I didn't speak with them today about the products they are making- it's just not worth the hassle, and if I bring it up, at that point I'm pretty much just stirring the pot. We have resumed as normal in a working and professional relationship and just not spoken about the products, nor do I intend to bring them up in the future.

Thank you all again for your advice

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