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If someone says "I don't like [thing]", resist the urge to say "you just haven't tried the right [thing]!"

McKinley Valentine — 3 min read
If someone says "I don't like [thing]", resist the urge to say "you just haven't tried the right [thing]!"
Photo by Nagara Oyodo / Unsplash

Or "But have you tried [specific version of thing]?"

You know this is annoying because it's annoying when people do it to you.

But when it's the other way around - when someone says they don't like, I don't know, brie, the belief forms in your heart that they couldn't possibly say that if they'd tried triple-cream duck-infused brie, or whatever brie changed your life. They've probably only had cheap supermarket brie. If they'd had the good stuff, they'd feel the way you feel.

Keep your mouth shut, seriously, don't do it. You know it's annoying so stop yourself. Sometimes people just have different tastes to you, it's not that they just haven't had the right experience. They have, and they didn't like it.

If you need a displacement habit when you feel the urge, like smokers who chew gum when they crave a cigarette, you could try saying:

  • "What cheeses do you like?"
    (we're still going with the brie example here, don't try and apply this exact wording to non-cheese situations)

You can also say:

  • "Oh huh, I love brie, especially triple-cream duck-infused brie, on a cracker with half a grape, that is the best way to eat brie in my opinion."

A big theme of Unsolicited Advice is that "you" statements can be pretty irritating - you should do this, you should try this, you would like this - but they are super easily transformed into non-irritating statements by just making them "I" statements - I tried this, I liked this. Say how you feel, instead of insisting you know how other people feel.

We have a huge cultural problem of basically not believing other people are the experts on their own life. At its worst, that's doctors routinely not believing women who say they're in pain, resulting in horrendous medical mismanagement. But it's all on a spectrum, and this is springin from the same thinking mistake.

And this is the important bit:

You have to avoid doing it even if you're sure you're right. Even if they really only have tried shitty brie.

In my case this comes up because I like fantasy books, and you often meet people who say they don't like fantasy because they think it means dragons and Harry Potter or whatever.

They're almost certainly wrong. Fantasy is so broad that there would be something to their tastes, whether they like gritty military books, murder mysteries, slice-of-life burned-out married couple suburban malaise, post-modern stream-of-consciousness writing, etc etc, they would be able to find something within that style within the fantasy genre. They've probably actually read fantasy books they like, but think they don't count as fantasy because no dragons.

But so what! It is 100% harmless for them to miss out on some books they might have liked. There are other books - more good books than any of us will be able to read in our lifetimes. The fantasy-snubber will have a good life anyway. (We must also accept that people will be happy even if their life does not include the things that make us happy.)

Again it is *annoying* when someone ignorantly says they don't like an entire genre, and I understand the temptation to say "you should try..." When people say they don't like country music, I'm like, really? all nine decades of it, and there's not one single song you like? So I get it. If it wasn't incredibly tempting to say the thing, this column wouldn't exist. It's as much a reminder to myself to stop doing it has a PSA.

Anyway, you're always going to have a more interesting conversation talking about why you like something, or what the other person does like, than saying "you're wrong, I bet you do actually like it". It's honestly no loss.

In real life, Green Eggs and Ham would end up with the guy saying "you were right Sam-I-Am, these are delicious. Also, we're not friends anymore. Hope it was worth it."

This piece was originally published in The Whippet #87 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!

Unsolicited AdviceEQ & Interpersonal


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