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When Not to 'Meet Me Where I Am'

My mother didn't let us get away with whining, which is yet another reason I love her. She tells me when my brothers and I were little, if one of us whined, she would say (in her signature matter-of-fact tone), "I can't understand you unless you speak like an adult."

I did. I ended up sounding like Lilith on "Cheers." It beat sounding like Moon Zappa's "Valley Girl," but still. (As a public speaker, I've since learned to shoot for somewhere in between. Incidentally, does anyone like listening to a recording of themselves?)

Like my mother choosing not to indulge us when we whined, we much each discern for ourselves where and when to draw the line. For myself, I'm all too happy to detach when someone is ...

  • Intoxicated
  • Irrational
  • Belligerent
  • Gossiping
  • Self-absorbed
  • Deep in denial
  • Beating a dead horse (or making me beat a dead horse)
  • Hypercritical or complaining
  • And of course, whining!

Meeting someone where they are is a key principle for better relationships—but as I'm sure you've noticed, not everyone is capable of better relationships or even interested. Better simply to accept it and move forward.

What about when you can't escape? Let the other person have their reaction. No indulging, no internalizing. Just let them own it. If necessary, stand up and excuse yourself, without guilt or long explanations.

You can be compassionate for others without being responsible for changing them. Amen? With that in mind, be selective about the company you keep. Not everyone gets to hang with you. Choose companions who lift your spirits. Be someone who lifts others' spirits. You truly don't have time for anything less.

P.S. Could your next event use a dynamic speaker? Check out my new speaking pages. Then let me know how I can help!

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Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at