Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Are there any circumstances under which it is acceptable to stick your nose into someone else's business?

Asked by wundayatta (58326 points ) April 11th, 2010

When you see someone doing something so appalling or harmful, perhaps you have an impulse to tell them what you think they should do. The consequences of doing so depend on your relationship with the person. A stranger on the street is quite different from your sister and different again from a coworker.

I suppose we all have provided unsolicited advice from time to time. However, sometimes we see someone doing something harmful to themselves or others, and before we know what’s happening, we are telling them what to do.

Generally this is inappropriate. Most people don’t like unsolicited advice. In addition, it’s stupid, since not only to most people not listen to unsolicited advice; they do the opposite thing out of spite to show they don’t think you know all that you think you know.

When would you get involved in someone else’s business? If someone was messing up? Getting hurt? If a child was involved? If money were involved? How far would you go, once you’d gotten involved?

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22 Answers

zophu's avatar

If they’re a part of your family, (blood or close friends,) unsolicited advice is your duty.

syzygy2600's avatar

If it will help save someones life or protect someone from danger I would.

crankywithakeyboard's avatar

I agree with the other two answers and want to emphasize that if a child is being abused, we must step in.

dpworkin's avatar

I weigh the possibility of annoyance in the balance. If I think my behavior may annoy someone, I intrude immediately, with sadistic pleasure.

Trillian's avatar

You’re right about the circumstances and relationship. I stuck my nose in a couple times. once with a girlfriend who was in an abusive relationship. She and I were pregnant together, and the last straw came for me when I heard her screaming. I called her mom and sister, then when I saw her walking past my house carrying the baby and holding her older daughter’s hand I told her she might as well come in and wait for her family, and that I had already called them.
She was angry with me for about two days. This was over twenty six years ago and we’re still friends. Now she tells the story and always smiles fondly at me.
I’ll risk losing a friendship over stopping a person from being physically hit. Especially a child, but really, no one deserves to be hit.
Another girlfriend took a punch for me once in aiding me getting away from my husband. I’ll always remember her and love her for that. I still owe her.

phillis's avatar

I think there are several circumstances in which this is not only appropriate, but should be encouraged. Soemoen already said child abuse, but ther eis also animal abuse and elderly abuse, too. It is appropriate to tell parents if there is evidence or proof of drug and alcohol abuse. Or college hazing. Or gang activity. I mean, really, there is no such thing as a victimless crime. Should we all avert our eyes and justify that action by saying, “It’s none of my business” or “somebody else will do it”?

I don’t think too many people go and do the exact opposite of a suggestion just for spite. I honestly think they believe they are doing the right thing. Or they’re lazy and don’t want to do the right thing. Regardless, I don’t know too many people who do it for spite. I would go as far asI needed to, until it was either resolved, or it became apparent that I am dealing with a bunch of assholes who, despite thier lip service, have no intention of doing the right thing. As is sometimes the case.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

When clear and present danger is present.

CaptainHarley's avatar

If a child were involved and there was danger of physical injury, I would get involved, but those are the only circumstances I can think of just now.

squidcake's avatar

I’d have to say that I find unsolicited advice from strangers to be annoying. Well, more or less depending on the circumstance.

As far as immediate family, my parents don’t usually interfere with the men my older sister decides to date. I’m usually the one who has to be blunt and tell her she’s dating a loser.

When a friend of mine got into smoking, I stepped in and told her to stop. Although my advice had no effect.

When you’re concerned for the well-being of someone you care about, I think it’s entirely appropriate to step in. Once it goes beyond that, it’s a bit gratuitous.

superjuicebox's avatar

Yes, there is a time when you should stick your nose in someone else’s business. If you care about the person and if they are close to you and what happens to them can effect you, then it is perfectly acceptable to stop them from doing something harmful to themselves. I did the wrong thing with this situation once, and it ended in the death of my best friend. This GREATLY affected me so it was actually my business too. If someone you know needs help and you know it, tell them and make sure they hear you.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I they make their business my business, or my business their business, then yes, we’ll do business. We would all do well to choose carefully the business we’re in.

mollypop51797's avatar

For strangers: If it’s done for their health then go right on into their business!
for family: pshht.. who cares??

dutchbrossis's avatar

If someone is hitting their children in front of me, no matter who it is I say something or just stare them down and glare until they say something to me. I would also say something if someone is hurting someone else.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I’ve been thinking about this a bit and want to add to my previous post: if a man were hitting a woman, I would have to intervene.

thriftymaid's avatar

Yes, but they are rare.

jeanmay's avatar

I really think we all have a responsibility for each other as human beings. If somebody (stranger or otherwise) is in danger of being hurt I would intervene. I once saw a woman in a fight with a man in the middle of the day. The man was holding the woman by the neck and shaking her up and down; it was horrifying. I had my new born son with me, and was too terrified to do anything except hurry away. I always think about that woman and wish now that I had called the police. I would hope that if I met with a similar situation again I would have the courage to just pick up the phone.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I would not hesitate to intervene if anyone who is vulnerable is at risk. Just try and stop me!

If the person was a friend or relative or even just someone I know and respect, I would get involved. My professional training might enable me to do so in a manner that is helpful and might be accepted by someone whose behaviour is causing them trouble in their life.

I am willing to take the risk of offending someone or hurting their feelings if I thought I could be genuinely helpful. I usually do so in a polite way that allows someone to decline my help if they choose. Depending on the circumstances, I might feel I have to persist none the less.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, if priests start to undress kids.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

When I care about someone, I can’t stop myself. It sort of just comes with the territory.
I make it a point not to care about others one day a week. ...“And the seventh day I cared only about myself!”

I think I take after my Mom, who was always right. Even when she was wrong, the world would magically change just to make her right. Now I have that lovely legacy!!!

So consider yourself blessed if you have been given my unsolicited advice!
Even if you don’t use my advice, you can watch for signs of the world changing!
Then just call it a free psychic reading!

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Yep. I had already stuck my nose into my best friend’s business when I knew he was extremely depressed. This was partly by invite from him (because we were very close), and me just being his best friend. I tried to get him to understand, but it didn’t work. He ended up killing himself, and though I did try all the time to help him, I wish I would have tried harder.

If it meant making him hate me due to my level of involvement, I would have much rather preferred that, because he would still be alive. I would have gone so far as skipping my college classes to be with him every day, and to sleep in the same room with him at night. I didn’t know, at the time, about available resources, so I didn’t know to call anyone. I was lost, knowing that I was in the process of losing him. I wish, so badly, that I would have done whatever it would have taken.

jeanmay's avatar

@DrasticDreamer You don’t know that changing your actions would have changed the outcome, and you are being terribly unfair on yourself to think that way. It is hard, but sometimes in life things just happen, and nothing you do or say can make a difference. Only by accepting this can you try to find peace.

phillis's avatar

@DrasticDreamer That sounds an awful lot like survivor’s guilt, sweetie. Have you done any casual research on that?

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