Ask Ann Cannon: As a church leader, what’s my role in solving other people’s problems?

Ann Cannon

Dear Ann Cannon • I was recently called to be the Relief Society president in our ward. We have a lot of young couples in our congregation, including me and my husband. Here’s my problem: A couple of the sisters have asked me to talk to another sister (anonymously) about her son, who’s a bully in the children’s nursery. My inclination is to stay out of it, but I’m not sure. What do you think?

New to the Job

Dear New to the Job • I think your inclination is absolutely spot on. Injecting yourself into this situation would be a no-win move on your part. Can you say “boundaries”? If the sisters who approached you have a problem with another sister, they should bring it up with her directly instead of hiding behind your position as a ward leader.

Best of luck with your calling!

Dear Ann Cannon • What is the best way to respond to someone who is often contrary? (I say blue, they say black; I say up, they say down, sort of thing.) This is someone I care about, but feel I often have to put on Wonder Woman wrist cuffs to deflect comments. I don’t want to respond with defensiveness, and I also don’t to put them on the defensive if/when I bring up the “contrariness.”


Dear Exasperated • “Wonder Woman wrist cuffs.” Hahahahahaha!

Contrariness runs in our family, so I’ve had some real-time experience on this front. When I’m feeling generous toward my fellow human beings, I just let contrary comments slide off me like I’m made out of Teflon. Whatever, I say. To each his own. Live and let live. Que sera, sera.

HOWEVER! When I’m feeling a little contrary myself — and believe me, I can feel PRETTY DARN CONTRARY SOMETIMES — I’ll ask the person what the deal is. Why all the pushback? For the record, this question is usually met with denial. Who me? Contrary? No way!

OK. Sorry. That was a lot of personal information you didn’t need. In general, I think the best way to deal with a contrarian is to ignore a lot of the undesirable behavior. It could be that he or she is trying to goad you — perhaps even unconsciously — into a fight because that’s how some people do intimacy. They argue. But if you’re more of a peacekeeper, you don’t have to join in the reindeer games. Let them take the fight somewhere else.

If you reach a point where you feel like you’ve had enough, however, do feel free to bring the subject up. Be kind and stay calm. You never know. The person of whom you speak might dial it down for a while as a result.

Dear Ann Cannon • How do you address loud whisperers and (even louder) popcorn eaters at the movies?

Film Buff

Dear Film Buff • Your question reminds me of the first time I went to a movie theater that had those reclining seats. I leaned back in my seat. The guy sitting next to me (I didn’t know him) leaned back in his. I started eating my popcorn. He started eating his popcorn. And suddenly I felt like I was in bed. With a stranger. Eating popcorn. And it was just really, really disturbing.

Yikes! There I go again. Too much information. Sorry.

So, here are your options for dealing with noisy eaters.

1. Get up and move to another seat.

2. Don’t move and put up with the noise instead.

3. Tell the noisy eater to stop being so noisy.

Frankly, I recommend the first and second options.

Ann Cannon is The Tribune’s advice columnist. Got a question for Ann? Email her at askann@sltrib.com or visit the Ask Ann Cannon page on Facebook.

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