If you cannot mould yourself entirely as you would wish, how can you expect other people to be entirely to your liking?
– Thomas á Kempis, Roman Catholic monk and author (ca.1380 – July 25, 1471)
It’s so common we could say it’s a part of our human nature. We expect things of others that we don’t expect of ourselves.
Or we expect more of others than we do of ourselves. We allow ourselves the maximum leeway (give ourselves a break) because we understand the circumstances under which we are living and working, but we don’t understand the constraints others have so we don’t give them much slack.
If we could mould another person exactly to our liking, what would that make us? God? Slave owner? Mystic? Magician? Brainwasher? In truth, if we did mould someone exactly the way we would like them to be, that would mean having control over their behaviour, which means over their life. That would be against the law of every country and the moral code of every religion of today.
Rather than being disappointed at how others don’t meet up to our standards to satisfy our needs (even if we are paying for the service), we should celebrate the fact that we have people we can depend on to some extent. Many people have isolated themselves from others so much that they have no one to turn to when they have needs they can’t meet themselves. That’s really a state of helplessness.
We can’t get people to do whatever we want them to do, even if we pay them. However, we can encourage them, coax them along, express the unfortunate state we find ourselves in because the job we want done has not been completed. Encouragement helps. Patience, when it’s demonstrated as patience and not as shutting up and taking what we get, is appreciated.
Three friends who I depend on for various important tasks I can’t do myself–one fixing cars, the second fixing computers, the third doing odd jobs like welding and other skilled projects–routinely take longer than I would like to complete what they do for me. However, by explaining how important the job is to me and attempting to show patience by understanding the time problems they have themselves, I usually get more than I pay for when each job is done. If not, I often get special favours later.
We have no real way of knowing the problems that others live with and the effect these problems have on them. What we can do is to explain the problems that are bothering us and hope that this spurs the others to act on our behalf sooner or more completely. And we can be patient with them when they need it from us.
Every person in our lives, no matter how important they are to us, will eventually disappoint us. No exceptions. However, there is no rule telling us that we have to hold their faults against them. We can achieve more by overlooking their short term disappointments while focussing on the long term benefits we derive from associating with these people.
A saying people have around where I live is: Look at the donut, not at the hole.
Give most people an opportunity to deliver their best for you, even when they are under pressure, and most times they will come through much better than strangers we pay more would. True, we don’t have the opportunity to tell our friends and associates what we really think of them at the time we need to most, but holding back pays of in the long run if we manage our relationships properly. And it builds better relationships.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how, what and when to teach children what they need to know to be competent and confident adults.
Learn more at http://billallin.com