Dealing with Detractors When Doing Things Differently

When you attempt to do something differently, you’ll encounter detractors. This is the case whether you’re going to a cash only system, paying off your mortgage early, or having separate finances — or anything at all that might be considered outside the norm.

There will be people who won’t understand, because what they see you doing now is not what they’re used to seeing, or because it isn’t how they might do it.

Unfortunately, the way people often express their lack of understanding is by being negative.

They may tell you what you’re doing is a bad idea or that it’s a waste of time, or they may imply that you’re dumb for wanting to do things like pay cash for a car because “you’ll always have a car payment”. If you’re striking out on your own, they may even tell you that you’re irresponsible and that it’s a pipe dream.

If you’re getting comments like those, first take a step back and look at your role in the situation. Are you constantly sharing your excitement about Dave Ramsey? Do you get up on your soapbox about the evils of credit just as your friend whips out his credit card? Do you describe your flexible schedule that allows you to volunteer at your child’s school without realizing that your friend’s boss never lets her off for those kinds of things?

If those situations seem familiar, chances are that the responses you’re getting have more to do with how often and when you’re talking about the things you’re doing differently than what you’re actually doing differently.

Even if you mean well, your friends or coworkers might be responding defensively. They may feel like you’re rubbing it in, even if you’re just being a little more exuberant than normal.

But what if those situations don’t sound familiar? Sometimes people we know make negative comments for other reasons.

They might be responding out of frustration — such as when they secretly wish they could do something similar but don’t feel that they can. They might not understand what’s involved, and might feel jealous that you have it “so easy”. (Such as if you paid cash for something that they never imagined paying cash for.) Or they might be concerned about you (especially if you are striking out on your own) and reacting out of fear.

In those cases, it’s most helpful to just maintain your dignity. Try not to be offended. If you believe their reaction is based on fear or a misunderstanding, you could try asking what their concerns are. People often have valid concerns. If you’ve already thought through how to handle those, they’ll probably be relieved. If you haven’t, it’s good to hear them out. Occasionally people are just negative. In that case, if they persist thank them for their concern and tell them calmly that this is how you’re doing things. (Or don’t bring up the topic if it’s not something you would normally talk about anyway.)

No matter what, don’t let negative comments get you down. Find groups of people who do think the way you do to interact with, and share your excitement, trials, tribulations, and successes with them.


  • Ken

    great advice….we do have to be tactful about when and how often we do this.

  • If you’re thinking of doing something outside the norm financially, research it first. Meaning, try to plan it out to see if it will work. If you have something to back up what you’re doing, that should defer your detractors.

    If not, screw ’em and do it anywyas. It shows you’ve got guts. Plus, if it doesn’t work, you can always go back.

    Fantastic post

  • Ken, yeah tact can be easy to accidentally overlook, but it helps.

    David, I agree, research is definitely important, especially if it’s something big that’s outside the norm.