From Tolerating Ignorance to Expressing Opinions

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Patronizing – Why Are People like That?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

I am petite in size, but I am also independent and resourceful. But some people are patronizing around me, and their unsolicited opinions bug me. Why are people patronizing?


Dear Independent:

I believe that generally people are well-meaning and trying to be helpful when offering advice, especially in those instances when someone is sharing a problem or a need — this tends to tap into the instinct to assist another. Also, it is not uncommon for people who are uncomfortable with their ignorance (which basically means that something has not yet been learned) to inhibit them from seeking or accepting advice. This reminds me of the old saying my grandfather used to express when me and my siblings were growing up, “In deliberations, two heads are better than one head, even if one is a goat’s head.”

”Holding My Own – Why Do I Cave In?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

Why is it that I can feel strong about my opinions, but when others disagree I struggle to stay with my opinions? I don’t give in but what I say is not as strong as it would be if I were not threatened. Why is this?


Dear Opinionated:

Many people become opinionated because of a fear of being wrong or being proved wrong. In such instances, there is invariably no room for deliberation because a deviation from or challenge to one’s position tends to trigger the insecurity upon which the opinion is based. It is probably difficult for such individuals to listen to the opinions of others without feeling threatened, especially if those opinions differ from their own. It is not uncommon for this type of defensiveness to be borne out of the fear of feeling stupid or being wrong. A sense of shame is often experienced, but it is covered with an uprising of anger when one’s opinion is challenged. It may be useful to recall the old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but others’ opinions shall never harm me.”

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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