Author Topic: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions (new Q: #23)  (Read 4758 times)

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girlysprite

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My brother can't let go and respect other opinions (new Q: #23)
« on: November 15, 2012, 03:48:02 AM »
BG: My brother and I are quite close. My brother is also on very good terms with my husband, though my husband keeps a bit more distance (which will become more understandable in this post). 1-2 months ago, my brother called my DH with a question; he was discussing the salary of a job and the terms for a new job he had accepted. It was his first job as a developer in the IT field, as he had just finished his degree (age 31, has been musician before). He asked my DH what his salary was (DH has worked for 6-7 years as a consultant test manager). My DH said that it was personal information, and that he wouldn't share it. He did give a basic indication of what starters in his field earned though. My brother completely failed to understand why my DH wouldn't share that information and pushed for a bit, but my DH didn't give in. My brother emailed my DH later, explaining again that he didn't understand why my DH wouldn't share it, they are so close, it's not like there is any damage can be done by sharing that information so there is no reason to guard it like that, it's not like he asked for details of our sexlife - etcetera. Long story short - he took the refusal to share this information as a personal rejection. (end BG)

So today I went to my brothers graduation ceremony, and we had dinner at a restaurant afterwards. DH was not with me, he had to work. During the dinner, my brother opened the topic again, asking for my opinion on what DH did. In hindsight, maybe I should have said 'I'm with my DH on this one but you shouldn't discuss it with me, but with him', but I didn't (habits die hard). I tried to explain to my brother that he should have recognised the boundary there, and have stopped at that, and that the mail was out of line. My brother reasons that he is free to express his opinion. The argument dragged on and he kept pushing how it was not normal not to want to share such information (everybody does it! All my friends think that this position is stupid! Why does your husband do this?). And before I know I'm trying to calm him down and assure him that it's not personal.

It's not the first time DH and brother collided like that, and that my brother tries to discuss it at great lengths with me (and others), looking for validation of his points. I think it's also because my DH won't pat my brother on the back every time to assure him it's not personal, but just takes his (reasonable!) stance and lets my brother boil like mad if he choses to do so. I really ought to do the same.
I know it's going to be hard, because I know my brother will take that as a personal rejection too when I will not want to discuss such things with him ('but I should be able to talk about anything with my sister because we're so close!'). But next time I'll just hand him my DH's phone number and tell him to call DH if it bothers him so much.

My brother is mostly a sweet person btw, so it's not something I would wan't to break contact over. He does need puppy training though :p in the form of no. I can't make him respect other's viewpoints and opinions, but stopping discussing them may be a good start.

Does anyone else have such family members? How do you handle them? Any tips on how to deflect him in the future?
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 02:37:57 PM by girlysprite »

blarg314

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2012, 04:40:18 AM »


If he were going to get subtle hints, he would have done so already. So you have to let him get mad, if he choses to do so. 

I think the key is to be matter of fact but consistent, and refuse to get drawn in to explanations or discussions.  So the next time, instead of explaining you say "I know DH already told you he doesn't want to discuss that.  I'm not going to do so behind his back. Can we change the subject?"  or "That's not information I'm comfortable sharing.  [pause]  How about them Leafs?" 

When he gets upset, you go through the explanation *once*.  "You're my brother and I love you. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to share every single detail about my personal life, or about my husband's personal life.  When you push like this, I get angry at you. Please stop."

After that, it's lather, rinse and repeat.  "I told you I'm not going to discuss that with you." "I told you I'm not going to discuss that wtih you."

If he keeps pushing past this, you make your excuses and leave/hang-up.  If he backs off, you go back to normal interactions. At all points, keep it calm and cool - not angry, but not sympathetic.

From a behaviour modification sense, what you're doing is providing clear correction when he does something he shouldn't. You're also removing any positive feedback when he misbehaves (ie, pushing harder doesn't get an explanation, or a feeling that he's wearing you down, or sympathy). And when he does behave, he gets positive feedback, and good interactions.

Yeah, it's a lot like training a puppy.  Puppies don't like it when they don't get to chew the furniture or jump up on people, but they will learn.



YummyMummy66

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2012, 06:17:41 AM »
Old habits die hard.  You state you are always like this with your brother.  It also seems that everyone he knows tries to "reason" with him.  Your brother is 31.  He is not a child, but an adult.   He should be treated as an adult and not a child and maybe he will start to act like an adult also.

You are right in the fact of what you should have started off with about backing up your dh.  From now on, I would not engage in arguments that you know are not worth it.  You are trying to reason with him and get him to see the other side, when he will not.  So, be direct from now on.  Don't argue.

You might not be able to change your brother, but you can change how you interact with your brother and how you react to his tantrums.

Think of it this way, if you had a child, would you let your child do what your brother did at dinner?

TootsNYC

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2012, 08:29:12 AM »
Wow, is your brother inaccurate about the "nobody else keeps this secret" thing.

It may be time to move away from the specific argument and simply point out the core problem: He is disrespectful to pressure someone on any topic like this, because people get to choose where the boundaries are, and the person w/ the most restrictive boundaries win.

So don't argue the specifics--make the blanket statement: "This is disrespectful of you." Or, perhaps better, "Please respect us by respecting out decision."

And he sounds like the perfect person to use cut-and-paste on.

(the other option is to say, "Why is this so important to you, that you find out this information?" as if you really wanted an answer.)

poundcake

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2012, 09:14:18 AM »
Quote
My brother reasons that he is free to express his opinion.

This is a big part of the problem. It is not his opinion to demand personal information or make others uncomfortable. It also means that, if he does exercise his "opinion" by continuing with topics that bother others, he will have to deal with the repercussions. His "opinion" does not exist in a vacuum where everything else is subordinate. In other words, he needs to grow up.

Oh Joy

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2012, 09:24:56 AM »
Does anyone else have such family members? How do you handle them? Any tips on how to deflect him in the future?

Could you try something* along the lines of, 'I respect your opinion about X and I respect OtherPerson's opinion about Y.  Regardless of what I think is right, I'd rather not get caught in the middle.  Can we talk about something else?'  It 'hears' his view while acknowledging the other POV, and focuses on the uncomfortable position he's putting you in...you never know, it might work.

Best wishes.

* Using whatever phrasing is natural to you and flows with the conversation, of course.  We sometimes write some pretty contrived responses for our OPs to use!   ;)



girlysprite

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2012, 09:31:01 AM »
Quote
My brother reasons that he is free to express his opinion.

This is a big part of the problem. It is not his opinion to demand personal information or make others uncomfortable. It also means that, if he does exercise his "opinion" by continuing with topics that bother others, he will have to deal with the repercussions. His "opinion" does not exist in a vacuum where everything else is subordinate. In other words, he needs to grow up.

For him, expressing his opinion about why someone should disclose this information is not the the same as disrespecting their boundaries or pressuring them. Yeah, his logic is quite warped. And his girlfriend is also backing him up and arguing along at his side, which makes it even more tedious.

Also, if he asks me again why DH seems to be more distant lately, I will tell him to approach DH about that too.
My brother also has a history of avoiding people with steel spines who won't take poopadities from him and trying to approach other people close to them if he needs a favor or an answer to a 'why' - which also explains why he approached me about this last night. I think he isn't even really aware that he is doing it. He also clashed with my mothers new husband in the past, who is also this solid no-nonsense person.
...And I realize how much this is like kid's behavior again. If mom says no, ask dad, or vice versa.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 09:33:26 AM by girlysprite »

Zilla

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2012, 10:08:12 AM »
I would have said that this is something that isn't discussed in YOUR circles.  It's not a big deal to explain it to him since you are his sister and close.  I would also say that it isn't a rejection or lack of trust, it's simply what you and your husband consider private information.  And yes while in your brother's circle it isn't that way it is for YOU and your husband.
 
And if he pushes, say firmly, "I already explained why we didn't share it, so please let us talk of something else." And if he doesn't, then excuse yourself and leave.  Quietly.  Or tell him you have to go and hang up.  But do it each and every time. As childish as he is, he will probably say that you are running away.  Don't even bother answering, just leave.  He will get the picture and hopefully stop this nonsense for his sake and future.

girlysprite

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2012, 10:24:39 AM »
I would have said that this is something that isn't discussed in YOUR circles.  It's not a big deal to explain it to him since you are his sister and close.  I would also say that it isn't a rejection or lack of trust, it's simply what you and your husband consider private information.  And yes while in your brother's circle it isn't that way it is for YOU and your husband.
 
And if he pushes, say firmly, "I already explained why we didn't share it, so please let us talk of something else." And if he doesn't, then excuse yourself and leave.  Quietly.  Or tell him you have to go and hang up.  But do it each and every time. As childish as he is, he will probably say that you are running away.  Don't even bother answering, just leave.  He will get the picture and hopefully stop this nonsense for his sake and future.

Actually, I did explain that his social circle was not the norm, and I knew plenty of people that wouldn't discuss/disclose that information either. However, since by brother is so bad at seeing from someone else's point of view, it falls on deaf ears.  ::)

Zilla

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2012, 10:46:03 AM »
I would have said that this is something that isn't discussed in YOUR circles.  It's not a big deal to explain it to him since you are his sister and close.  I would also say that it isn't a rejection or lack of trust, it's simply what you and your husband consider private information.  And yes while in your brother's circle it isn't that way it is for YOU and your husband.
 
And if he pushes, say firmly, "I already explained why we didn't share it, so please let us talk of something else." And if he doesn't, then excuse yourself and leave.  Quietly.  Or tell him you have to go and hang up.  But do it each and every time. As childish as he is, he will probably say that you are running away.  Don't even bother answering, just leave.  He will get the picture and hopefully stop this nonsense for his sake and future.

Actually, I did explain that his social circle was not the norm, and I knew plenty of people that wouldn't discuss/disclose that information either. However, since by brother is so bad at seeing from someone else's point of view, it falls on deaf ears.  ::)

Then do something that he will understand when the discussion is over, it's over. Period.  And you do that by walking away/hanging up etc.  Or if you are in the middle of eating, ignoring him till he changes the subject.  Quite frankly, he needs to grow up.  Sounds very frustrating.

Winterlight

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2012, 11:09:15 AM »
It's not about respecting other people's opinions, it's about respecting their privacy and boundaries.
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
Caroline Lake Ingalls

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2012, 11:16:57 AM »
Actually, I would completely ignore "what other people do."  I don't care who is telling all, I don't.

You might even say to your brother that many employers frown on discussions of salary amongst staff members, and he had better adapt to a new culture now that he is working in the field, or the paycheck he is discussing will be his last.
I have enough lithium in my medicine cabinet to power three cars across a sizeable desert.  Which makes me officially...Three Cars Crazy

NutMeg

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2012, 11:39:18 AM »
Maybe say something like, 'My husband and I are life partners, and we have a level of intimacy with each other that we do not have with anyone else. We have decided as partners that salary is one of those things that is kept private between us. You don't have to agree with or understand that choice, but you do have to respect it. When you send DH an email demanding private information and telling him he is wrong to have a different privacy level than you, it is disrespectful. When you go behind his back and try to badger me about it as well, it is disrespectful and it makes us uncomfortable. It makes us trust you less, because we know you won't respect our choices.'
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JenJay

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2012, 12:07:22 PM »
It sounds like your brother thinks his hurt feelings should be the deciding factor in whether or not someone gives in to him. That doesn't sound like a very productive way to go through life!

If he brings it up again I'd say "You've been told, repeatedly, that DH doesn't share his salary information with anyone. It isn't personal. You can be as offended as you want but he's not going to make an exception for you. Drop it." or maybe "Don't you see the irony that you want DH to respect your feelings but you don't respect his privacy?"

BeagleMommy

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Re: My brother can't let go and respect other opinions
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2012, 12:18:29 PM »
"Brother, I appreciate that, among your circle of friends, you discuss these things openly.  However, DH and I do not discuss these things with others.  Please respect our choices as we respect yours."

If that doesn't work, either get up and leave, ignore, or hang up.

Evil BeagleMommy wants to say "That's on a need to know basis and you don't need to know", but she has no class.