Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Too Nice for her own good

These are some of my favorite emails...the ones that don't necessarily have a cut and dry answer. This particular situation has many different variables and so I put it out to you "Pink Teapotians"...what do you think?

"I have a neighbor who drops by unannounced in the evenings just to say "hello." Sometimes it happens at dinner or bath time. Sometime its just inconvenient because I'm trying to steal a minute for myself. I don't have the heart to be rude, but she drops by with her child and once my child sees who is at the door, I don't have much choice in acknowledging them. When I open the door, her child rushes in and then I have company, even if just for a few minutes.

I might say something like, "Oh I'm busy making dinner and doing laundry." And she might respond with, "we'll just stay a minute." I don't even invite her past the foyer, but even that doesn't seem to get through. Then, we have to pry the kids apart to send them on their way.

What do you recommend?

Too Nice for Her own good"

We're all intelligent here. But this takes some thinking. What are the parties' personalities like? What are their needs? There is a basic infringement going on here. The person who is just "coming in" during dinner time or that special time of day is simply infringing upon this person's boundaries.

The one thing I will say is that if we will allow them, others will show us their boundaries. I want to hear from you!! I'm so excited to hear what you have to say to this person! I'm sure they are excited too!


Garr and Jennie said...

When you stay at a hotel, there is always a "do not disturb" sign available for you use. At the times when you know you are going to be busy, have a sign ready to put on your door that reads something like, "We are enjoying family time, (or personal time) please feel free to stop by tomorrow, (or please do not disturb). Sincerely..."

Placing signs on the front door can also inform friends (who can read, of course) that your children are busy with family until a certain time on Saturdays, or many other uses. Hope this helps!

Jennifer and Jason Young said...

Lately, I have been trying to weigh my level of discomfort against the other person's needs. It is your job to make your home a sacred place and be protective of your family. At the same time a little inconvenience is appropriate for the kindness of other's comfort. I wonder if your friend has a need that she is trying to fill by coming over. Possibly, you could find out what that is.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting, I can't wait to hear what kind advice I receive!

No is a hard one in my vocab.

Rochelle said...

Hm, that is a tough one. It doesn't have to be a 'no' but I think some boundaries definitely need to be set. I am not sure there's a super tactful way of going about it except to just sit her down and be completely honest with her. Let her know that you genuinely enjoy spending time with her, but that you also need alone time with your family. Set up specific play dates and times to hang out 2-3 times a week (or even just 1 time if necessary). That way there are set times, she knows you want to hang out, but hopefully realizes the infringement in a gentle way. Don't be rude or pushy, just honest, real, and friendly.

I think anything other than the straight truth might be offensive or misconstrued, you still like her and want to hang out with her, right? Make a point to get it scheduled and let her know the other times she can swing by if she calls ahead to see if you're busy first or not.

While it's your duty to be a friend and find out her needs, it's her duty to not be rude or irresponsible. Lines need to be drawn. Tactfully.

Business Communications Training said...

When we use body language to avoid being direct, it never quite says what we think is so completely obvious. It might even appear unnaturally aggressive but a person who likes you can get over that. Instead, use these tools in 1-2-3 fashion: 1) start with showing enthusiasm for them or appreciation regarding their visit or topic they want to discuss. Now, you have their attention! 2) Educate them that you are handling somethings right now (and do not pause here! Quickly jump to number 3! 3) (Offer them choices that are feasible for you.) ie. Let's meet for lunch tomorrow or do you mind if I call you later? Now this person has been politely received, educated and given choices- (not just told no, not now, etc.) If he/she is indecisive, you can tell them which option works best for you and quickly jump to thanking them for stopping by and I look forward to calling you later!

Its not easy when you are trying to maintain good relations yet you should not feel afraid to show that you are focused. So long as you do the 1-2-3 together, that person can't easily get mad and this person needs to see that you have your boundaries besides. If he she is keen to talk, that person will try to work with your suggestions if not offer a better time. "Just a minute?" "Just smile and say, "Save that thought for lunch! I'm very focused right now so I know I can enjoy it much better when we chat later. Thanks for understanding."

Julie said...

i'm all about being honest and up front. A simple candid discussion with the friend would be appropriate in this situation. Something like, I really appreciate and value our relationship. I feel so lucky to have a great neighbor and friend. I appreciate your pop in visits but the evening is really such a busy crazy time for me. Is there any way you call before you visit or stop by a bit earlier???

I like the "do not disturb" idea but feel like in this situation it may be viewed by the neighbor as a bit underhanded!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for all the advice. I enjoying hearing the different approaches from everyone.

I love the 1,2,3 idea and "how about we meet for lunch tomorrow?" If I do it enough times that might just get the message across without having to resort to "un"pleastries.

Just in time, too, b/c my husband is threatening to answer the door and take care of it himself! ;)

-Too Nice

Ms. Missteps said...

This is avoidance at it’s best, but when I really couldn’t deal with it, I’d neglect to answer the door, later claiming backyard activity. This solves nothing, but darn it, it works.

Heather said...

My mother always taught me that just because someone knocks on your door, you're not obligated to answer. If this was my neighbor and she repeatedly showed up unannounced in the evenings I'd stop answering the door and hope she got the message soon: we're not *always* available!

If she brings up your not answering the next day on the street - perfect: now you can tell her straight up. "Sorry, I was too busy! You can always call before coming to make sure it's a good time for us."

Susan said...

I would simply talk with the friend and tell her that I absolutely love that she comes to visit and feels comfortable enough to visit often, but that evenings just aren't a good time for you as a family as it is harder to get everybody to bed on time if routines like dinner times, bath times, and reading times, etc, don't happen when they're supposed to, which makes mornings not go so smoothly, etc. Be sure to let her know what times ARE good times - like the hour before you start making dinner, etc.

There could be something deeper going on, though. Like what Jennifer Young's comment mentioned.