“Someone call Victoria because her secret’s out,” is my favorite Tweet on the subject of bra straps that are seen by the outside world. Is the same person who is so anxious to tell a stranger that her bra strap is showing, anxious to tell a guy his underwear is showing above his saggy pants?
Recently I was 30 miles away in a smallish town. A total stranger came up to me to tell me that my bra strap was showing. I just stared at her in utter surprise. At that moment I had so many mixed emotions I could not declare one of them a winner and act upon it.
Five days later I am still dumbfounded by this seemingly innocent, helpful gesture. Was it either innocent or helpful? I don’t know. I can’t know the intentions. I can know that I didn’t appreciate the “help.” There is no polite way to tell a woman, unsolicited, that her bra strap is showing. Five days later I turned to my BFF, Google, for help. I was curious as to whether others saw the verbal intrusion as helpful or innocent. Where is a good comeback when you want one? Here are two:
“I don’t remember putting on a bra today!”
“Spot on, it’s a bra strap. I’m wearing a bra. Ask your mum about it.”
Women wear bras, get over it. Anyway you tell someone, especially a stranger, it’s going to leave someone embarrassed. If it was unintentional then it’ll leave her embarrassed. If it was intentional, then her response may leave you embarrassed. Leave it to her girlfriends to tell her. Women who let their bra straps show are sick of hearing, so leave me and my undergarments alone.
You know you’re wearing the bra, everyone who looks at you knows you’re wearing a bra, why be so concerned about a little piece of cloth showing?
In my world, the answer to any challenge can be found in my rules of communication. I coach my clients that unsolicited advice is valued very seldom. When we solicit the advice, especially from an attorney or another billable hour source, we seem to think it is very valuable. When it is offered unasked for at our back fence, not so valuable.
Although the topic was a bra strap and the location was a dollar store, it was still unsolicited advice. In that fleeting moment if I would have realized that unsolicited advice is still unsolicited even if it is about your underclothes, I could have reached for a prepared answer.
The key is to unsolicited advice is to reply in a way that keeps your personal power.
1. “I’ll think about that.”
Even if you don’t actually plan to think about.
2. “Good idea. I’ll consider if that’s right for me.”
This makes it clear that just because the other person prefers to do something one way doesn’t mean its right for you.
3. “That’s interesting, but I prefer to do it this way.”
So much for trying to appease them.