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Conflicts with 'nice' people


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Oh my, I've been on both sides of the fence with this issue! When younger, I used to let people basically bully me, because I was so afraid of hurting anyone's feelings. As I grew older and became more confident in myself, I found I had some very good talents in organization. Once I had a whole chili supper fundraiser function basically dumped in my lap a month before the event, because the person doing the event just didn't do anything at all. I would've said no, but it was for a group my kids loved. The chili supper went off pretty well, but it was a lot of work and stress and I didn't do it the following year. However, once I began to realize that I was more than capable, I also became "clueless" that I was really hurting people's feelings. When we were homeschooling still, I belonged to a lot of groups, and I was always the older mom. I was more than happy to jump in with my advice and help, and it took a very painful experience of being asked to leave a group for me to really examine my behavior. I realized then that I needed to scale way back on our homeschooling groups, and also realize that I don't always have to help, unless people ask for it. I apologized to the people's whose feelings I had hurt by my trying to help out. Honestly, I was happy to leave anyway since I didn't want the stress and drama.

This has applied to my relationship with my kids too now that they are grown. I have three sons. I jokingly say that I am a failure as a MIL. I try not to be, honestly, the MIL and DIL relationship is the hardest for me. It took me nearly 25 years to realize that my own MIL wasn't a dragon, but I'm afraid that my (now ex) DIL sees me as a dragon. I keep my granddaughter a lot due to divorce and custody issues, and I know my ex-DIL blames me for a lot of what happened, when in reality I was dealing with going into a terrible situation. I won't go into all the details, but we have had our granddaughter since she was one.  I've really had to learn to keep my mouth shut when around my ex-DIL and try very hard not to overstep my grandma boundaries now that custody issues have kind of resolved. 

So sometimes, the seemingly nice Karens that want to run the show can really be just a clueless as they seem. I know I was. What really gets me though are the people that say I'll do it and they do nothing at all, like the chili supper example I gave. Once, in Cub Scouts, I had a Mom literally call me a week before Christmas and said oh, we need you to run the Christmas tree sales! I had offered to help sell one night, but not every night and be responsible for whole thing! No one else would do it, but somehow I got blamed for there being no fundraising Christmas tree sales that year. No, I didn't accept responsibility for that at all. I went to the January leadership meeting and told them the situation. Basically, no one had wanted to do it, I had run fundraisers in the past, and they assumed I would do it again. Then, when no sales happened people assumed I had been the bad guy. No...I had purposefully not volunteered for such a labor intensive fundraiser that year, the parent that did volunteer had done nothing, and then I was supposed to take over but I said no to a weeks notice. Somehow, that made me a bitch. By this time, I was in my late 40s and not afraid to tell this group of young parents that I was not responsible for their mistakes. So, being a Karen and being a Patsy can be difficult. I've been both. Now, I'm trying to be a person who is capable, confident, and not overbearing. 

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On 12/20/2020 at 12:45 AM, Plagefille said:

Umm... My DH says I don't respond clearly enough. I don't want to hurt their feelings, both of these people are very sensitive, so my responses are not strong enough. Then usually I get so upset and frustrated, as it continues, that I say something rude or mean and quit the event, party, committee, etc. And everyone thinks I overreacted to someone just trying to help. Which at that point it probably is a bit of an overreaction. Very unhealthy cycle. So I definitely need to work on my responses. I told my DH part of my problem is lack of practice because I have spent the last 16 years at home full time with my kids.

It sounds like these kinds of people are taking charge without regard to your feelings, and are taking advantage of your lack of assertiveness, either intentionally or unintentionally. Perhaps they are used to just running with what they want when no one stands in their way but maybe there is no ill intent. I’m sure it’s hard to set firm boundaries if you are not used it, but in others’ defense, they can’t read your mind and have no idea that it upsets you so much if you don’t speak up. I’m not saying it’s right to take advantage of you but obviously none of us have seen this play out first hand. If your DH thinks that you need to be more clear, my guess is that you need to set firm boundaries and not back down. Then you will see how they respond when there is no question about your wishes.  

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9 hours ago, SKL said:

I'm familiar with the "say no 3 times" etiquette rule, but this is not that.  Also, these people have lived with me for 25 years, so it's not like they don't know when I mean no....

those are not nice people.   As I grew up  and learned things - I refused to ask/beg three times (and certainly not more.) - I'll ask.  if you say no, I'm done.  (and if she wanted me to ask her a half a dozen more times before saying yes, she could deal with it.)

I detest those types of games.

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On 12/19/2020 at 4:24 PM, MissLemon said:

I have had this exact holiday with my in-laws. They want it their way, not my way or anyone else's way. Husband didn't understand "But they are saving you all that work!" Well, I wanted to do the work. I have been waiting literally my whole life to host a big, family holiday meal, so no, it isn't a help when your mother shows up with food, takes over my kitchen, and starts ordering me around.  

The people that do this aren't "nice". They are doing it to steal your thunder. They know there will be lots of ooohs and aaahs over the meal or the completed church project, and they can't handle someone other than themselves getting the thanks and admiration. 

Well said!!


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As far as the volunteer situations go, this is why all committees and volunteers should have written job descriptions!

And, ideally, there is formal volunteer training - this can be done even if your group is small, and honestly saves a lot of time, money, and grief down the road. This may not be training on a specific role or job, but rather a clear and thorough introduction to the way your group does things.

These are our standards for fundraisers (expenses cannot exceed X percent, we do not do this or that style of fundraiser, there must always be two people counting and the money must be handled in this way). 

This is how our committees function (each one has a specific job, then each volunteer has a specific job, each one reports to the overarching committee in this way). 

What we expect of our volunteers - this is where you include the information about not overstepping or overhelping! It's been a while, but you emphasize the practical need for everyone to participate, because this is how they gain experience and become more valuable volunteers. That one of the best ways to help is to let others help, because this helps others grow and learn as people, and ultimately benefits the organization. This is something that needs to be stated upfront, put in writing, and repeated frequently. Wherever there are volunteers, there are volunteers who want to Do All The Things and take over. 

If a group has no idea of how to begin formalizing their process, they should look to another group for assistance and mentoring. Groups like the United Way often have resources for this, and sometimes formal training (train the trainer). There might be a cost associated with training in particular, but it can be well worth it. Of course, there are tons of articles and such on the internet that can get someone started. 

This is not just for big organizations. Even the smallest of groups can start writing out job descriptions and expectations. 

If you're in a group without any formal process, start planting the seed and making suggestions. Use the L-word: proper training lowers our liability. 

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