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No one wants to speak their mind in my family

Community Member

Hi all,

This is a relatively minor issue in the greater scheme of things, but I'd love to know if anyone has experienced something similar. We are currently three adult children and one parent living together.

A frequent cause of conflict in my house is that none of us seems to be able to answer each other's questions without going through mental gymnastics trying to catch any hidden interpretations of the question. It could be as simple as "what do you think we should have for dinner?", "did you want this or can I have it?", or "which car will we drive to the shop?". Instead of just giving an honest answer the person being asked umms and ahhs over it. I know personally, the mental checklist starts going off "Why are they asking? Have they mentioned something they want for dinner recently? Am I supposed to remember? Are we supposed to be on a diet at the moment? Do they want me to support them by suggesting something healthy? Are they asking me if I want this because they want to take it? Why does it matter which car we take? Does one of them need fuel on the way?"...

Two tactics then tend to come into play. Either you give an "I don't mind, what do you want?" answer, or sometimes you might try some clarifying questions. The problem is, the person asking the question then often gets annoyed. I mean, let's face it, by carefully skirting around your answer you're indirectly accusing them of having an ulterior motive, aren't you? We're all smart enough to see that's what is going on. You're admitting you don't trust them enough to take your honest answer.

Therein lies the complication though. Because the obvious solution is just "well, don't do that". But the other person won't always take your answer the way you want it, will they? Maybe they were hoping you'd say "screw it, let's have pizza!", so when you blurt out "we'd better have that stir fry we planned for tonight" now they ARE annoyed!

Are there any little communication tricks we're missing here, or are we doomed to go around and around with this forever?!

Thanks for any advice.

2 Replies 2

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Be me be you~

Welcome, I saw you gave some excellent advice to TipTup04, I hope it is taken up. There is one thing I noticed about your post to her was that you were not asking, you were telling the person what would be good things to do.

Now above you are talking about the way the household reacts to suggestions. Now I can't tell from that one post if you are overthinking and others are catering to what appears indecision, or if it is something all in the family do.

Your description of the mental processes leads me to think that you expereince the process first hand and secondly typically ask, not tell or make a strong suggestions.

As a first step may I suggest you have the confidence to say explicitly what you want, and not try to cater to everyone's whims. I don't mean you do not practice consideration.

As an example you know the son's car is out of gas, or nearly so and he cannot really afford to fill it. So you say "We'll take my care tonight". He can still object if he wants"

If you want pizza say so "I really want pizza tonight, do you mind?

See if a more assertive approach reduces the humming and harring.

Now the only problem I can guess might happen is you do not feel strong enough to be assertive. If that is the case just say so here and we can talk further.

I would like to know how you get on anyway


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi be me be you (with a wave to Croix 👋),

I agree with Croix, I think it’s all in the way that you frame it. My family and I have no trouble speaking our mind and getting our point across, but the secret is that it needs to be done in a non-confrontational way and there needs to be flexibility. So for lunch, we would say something like this “are you hungry? I was thinking we could go down to the beach for lunch” opening it up for the other person to agree or say “actually I was kind of feeling like Y”. Or “it’s lunchtime, I’m going to do X, would you like to join me”. if someone seems annoyed etc, just saying “you seem annoyed by something, what’s happened” rather than giving them the opportunity to shut things down with a somewhat confrontational “what’s wrong”. I think it’s all about feeling comfortable being assertive and the way you frame things. People do have a tendency to be vague and I think it’s borne from wanting to be easy going, or indecision on their part. so if you suggest something, most people will jump at it.