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How To Trouble Others Politely

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Last week, I wrote about the "Grandma is afraid you're hungry" situation. There's another problem I encountered here at my grandma's. Basically, before my mother and I arrived, my grandma was living by herself. When she got injured and couldn't move very well, she paid her neighbors money every month to cook and clean the house.


After we came, my grandma asked them to only deliver one meal a day. I asked, "Why not just let them stop delivering altogether? We can cook three meals."

She said, "Because they are rather poor and really need the money. If I don't let them deliver food at all, they will feel bad for taking my money."

We supported grandma's decision. But the thing is, my mom and I are vegan, so my grandma told the neighbors that she wanted to eat vegan with us. The neighbors adjusted their cooking to not include meat, but sometimes, they delivered food with little dried shrimps. I think they didn't know that shrimp isn't vegan. I thought about telling them, but whenever I run into them, there's always other people, and it feels like I'm being super nitpicky if I knock on their door just to tell them to not put shrimp in the cooking. 


One day, I ran into the neighbor by chance, and it was just us two. I said, "Thank you so much for taking care of my grandma and feeding us such delicious and nutritious food!"


She said, "Oh it's no problem at all! If there's anything you want to eat, please tell me."


I replied, "Oh actually I don't eat shrimp either because it's not vegan. But I don't think you knew that. Sorry I didn't communicate clearly before. Your cooking is very delicious though!"


She said, "Oh really? OK I'll know in the future, thanks for letting me know."


And that was that. Politeness and appreciation always help to reduce awkwardness.


Later, I was talking to my mentor about this situation and asked him if there are any better ways to handle such a situation. Just like in last week's article, I encourage you to pause here and think about how you might handle this situation, then compare it to what my mentor said. This will give you a deeper impression and internalize the teachings more so that you can use it in your own life.


My mentor told me:

"Indeed, it's quite awkward to trouble your neighbors further after they've already gone through the trouble of cooking vegan for you. One way to do it is to buy a gift for them, and then when you deliver the gift, you can bring it up in passing. This way, you're not purely troubling them in that encounter. Moreover, you can offer to give them more money to compensate for the extra trouble of cooking vegan. This way, you show your good intentions and that you aren't just selfishly adding trouble to them."


I thought, "Wow, that's a pretty good idea! My mentor is so much more considerate than me." In the future, I'll remember that if I need to trouble others, I should try to bring a small token of appreciation or do a small favor for them first.


Do you have any other ways to politely trouble others? If so, I'd love to hear them.


Weekly Wisdom #265


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