TED Conversations

Amy Winn


This conversation is closed.

Why is it that other people's behavior bothers us?

Today I witnessed a young mom with two small children and one on the way smoking a cigarette and it bothered me. So I am asking the question why, and does that bother you too?

We have all seen the disapproving glances that are given to someone with lots of tattoos or piercings by someone that has none. We have all seen drivers that are paying attention to anything but the road, and we shake our heads in frustration. We watch our neighbors spend money on beer when their kids have holes in their shoes, and get a knot in our stomach over it. But these issues do not involve our lives, our money or our decisions, so why do we care? Everyone says “butt out”, or “it’s not your business”, and at the same time I keep hearing that phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.”

So, folks, which is it, does it take a village, or do we mind our own business? When do we speak up and when do we stand back, and how do we control feeling torn apart when other peoples’ behavior bothers us?

Feel free to share what bothers you, whether or not you did anything about it, what exactly you did, and if you believe that it made a difference.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Nov 29 2013: Hmm. Well most men are annoyed when their girlfriends or wives eye handsome looking men. That doesn't stop themselves eying gorgeous looking women. How will you explain that?
      • thumb
        Nov 29 2013: Your example Pabitra, seems to support the well known theory that some behaviors in others may remind us of some behaviors (or potential behaviors) in ourselves that we don't like very much.

        No reply option for your comment Fritzie..."My guess would be it was used handbag from a thrift store. I would ask myself what conditions might prevent a person from taking the time to shop like you do or cook like you do. Sometimes there is an explanation other than what you assume".

        Good point Fritzie, because assumptions on our part can often lead to judgments, perhaps with inaccurate information (based on our assumptions). When assumptions are made without accurate information, we may feel like we have to try to change the situation.

        The mantra I like to use seems to fit this situation as well?
        ""Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference"

        Perhaps it is wisdom, from which we can learn NOT to assume and judge?
        • thumb
          Nov 30 2013: Hi Colleen, Your comment really stuck a nerve in me. My husband and I were in the grocery store about a week ago and we were very careful to check prices, get the items that were on sale and use coupons if possible. When we got to the register we were behind a woman who had a cart overflowing with groceries many of which were high priced junk food or prepared items. I noticed that she did not pick up the specials and did not used coupons nor the store discount card. But what she did do was reach into her Coach bag and pay for all of these groceries with food stamps. So, while I was careful with watching every penny, she just threw whatever she desired in the cart, as she didn't work to pay for it, which brings me to your comment. On the way home, I was ranting about how my husband should make believe that we separated and I should apply for food stamps. His reply was "absolutely not!" He said that he was proud to support us and if we cheated the system to obtain these benefits, than we would be no better that that woman in front of us. He said he could not live with that and he said hat he knew I could not live that way either. I think the problem that we have is that we are lowering our standards to make things easier and get what other get, albeit wrongfully. It is far easier to break our standards as opposed to fighting for them. And I truly believe that when we break them, whatever bad behavior we allowed ourselves to lower our standards for is just not worth it.
        • thumb
          Dec 1 2013: My guess would be it was used handbag from a thrift store. I would ask myself what conditions might prevent a person from taking the time to shop like you do or cook like you do. Sometimes there is an explanation other than what you assume.
        • thumb
          Dec 1 2013: Yes, Colleen. I notice one cannot always tell whether another used the store discount card, as there is typically the option of just typing in your phone number. I also recall several people I know who switched to more prepared food when they became full-time caretakers of an elderly relative with Alzheimers, on top of their other responsibilities.
        • Dec 10 2013: Very right Colleen not to judge, as the lady may not have bought it at a thrift store at all.

          It may well be the case that one day, a long time ago she was able to afford it, but for her those days are gone.

          Maybe that's why she keeps it, as a reminder of happier days, in the hope that one day they will come back again, until then that bag is all she has.
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Nov 30 2013: Chris, it used to bother me once, but for a different reason. I felt worried about the taste of my partner. Eying is more than just a look, if you get my drift.

          'It matters where she is looking for her appetite, I don't cook fast food at home.'
          - Wise elderly uncle.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.