I’ve always had the desire to jump in when I hear someone giving the wrong information. Doing that when you’re younger tends to get you tagged as a “Know-It-All” or a “Smartypants,” so you eventually learn when it’s appropriate to correct someone and when it’s not. You know, sorta like how it’s not wise to correct your boss when in a meeting with the regional directors.
I’m going to share more than I probably should but here goes. My first memory of feeling bad when correcting someone was with my dad. We were at Disney World and he was telling some other guests something that was SO WRONG! I mean it was killing me inside. Did I mention I must have been like twelve years old at the time (but I read the Birnbaum Guide to Disney World cover to cover every year when it came out so I knew what I was talking about)? I just jumped in and corrected him. I was embarrassed and so was he. My need to be correct didn’t help anyone, except maybe the other guests who now had the correct information. But who were we to them but just a family on the bus offering travel tips to strangers?
We both learned something that day. My dad stopped trying to help strangers when he didn’t really know the answers, and I learned to keep my mouth shut when I heard him say something that wasn’t entirely accurate but mostly correct.
The thing that’s the hardest for me is to hear people who are supposedly experts telling people TOTALLY inaccurate information. I can’t believe the things I’ve heard from Disney bus drivers, city tour guides and taxi drivers. I just try not to listen anymore and now that it’s socially appropriate to wear headphones in public, my life is much easier.
Now that we’re all supposed to be socially distant, this might not be as much of a problem but eventually there will be a time when we don’t all need to be six-feet apart.
When you’re traveling, you end up in the same place as other travelers. This might be on a group tour, a shuttle bus, sitting at a bar or restaurant or even a hotel lobby. You may even be at a social event like a cocktail hour when conversations are expected.
So what do you do when a total stranger starts telling everyone something so wrong that your whole body starts to cringe?
- Jump in and tell everyone what the real story is
- Look at your phone and pretend you didn’t hear what they said.
- Excuse yourself to go to the restroom, so you don’t have to be embarrassed for them.
- Slink away slowly and hope no one notices you’re gone
I have no problem letting people know the truth is as I see it. Come on, I co-write a website so I’m not shy about sharing my opinions. But that’s not saying it’s how I act in real life. As an introvert, I’ve learned it’s better to look through the window than to knock on it (or possibly break it). Well, that is unless I hear you telling someone at the bar how great it was to redeem your United miles for TSA Pre-Check and then I might just tell you how wrong you are to use miles for that. Then I might say to you I write a travel blog and hand you a Your Mileage May Vary business card 🙂
So what do you do in this situation? Do you jump in to correct people when they’re sharing incorrect info or do you just pretend that you never heard what you heard?
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
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Just cringe and say nothing. I gave up years ago.
If I feel strongly about it because of moral reasons, or if I think it will cost the other party money or be dangerous to follow, then I would say “oh thats interesting, my experience was X” and not say they are wrong, just say what my experience was. That leaves everyone’s pride intact and allows for possible other experiences, with the option to add “try looking it up on ABC website”. If the other person wants to continue to argue or berate their point I just shrug and say things are always changing… and walk away.
Dig your fingertips into your palms and walk away. Promote education, the reading of notices and fine print, citations and sources. Foster a love of discovery and firsthand knowledge.
I have heard a person tell a coworker that they cannot claim a workers compensation injury because there were no witnesses.
It took me nearly 50 years (today’s my birthday 😮) to realize that much of my childhood was straight out of the song, “Harper Valley PTA.” What people say can be soooo wrong.