21: Playing Interference

A Thousand Things to Talk About
A Thousand Things to Talk About
21: Playing Interference

Today, we’re talking about playing interference.

Specifically, is it worth trying to stop someone from going down a path you think is wrong for them?

Show notes and links:
Freakonomics: What makes people do what they do?

Full episode text

It’s possibly one of the more frustrating things in life – to watch someone making a decision or doing something that you think is just wrong. It may be something you’ve done before and think you know how it’ll turn out, or it could be something you’ve simply decided you’re opposed to for whatever reason.

Self help shelves are full of discussions of what you shouldn’t do – or shouldn’t have done. There have also been thousands of studies done on how to convince someone to quit smoking, quit drinking, leave a bad relationship, or simply make better decisions.

As the guys from Freakonomics would argue, it’s all a question of incentives. Give someone the right incentive at the right time, in the right place, and stopping them from doing something is probably possible.

Yet addiction and abuse counselors have another axiom – for someone to make a change, they have to actually want the change. If they don’t actually want it, any change made is likely to fail.

So is it worth trying to stop someone? One person on Facebook answered the question in this way:

“How about finding out if the person wants your input at all? Expressed as caring/concern that is strong enough that you want to share your thoughts if the person is prepared to listen. If not, then trying to stop the person who doesn’t want to listen will create distance and you won’t be someone (they) come to as a friend if this path leads where you think it will.”