I love the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” But …
- What if your friend incessantly vents about his problems whenever you meet or call? Should you hear him out every time?
- What if your kid wants 36 kisses and 18 hugs before she relucantly lets you leave her room at bedtime, only to call you back 6 or 7 times every evening? Should you let her sleep in your bed like the Jon Kabat-Zinns of this world?
- What if you happen to be the ubernerd at the office and your colleagues routinely ask for your help whenever their computer says ‘no’? Should you drop your important tasks several times per hour?
Even though that might be what they want or need in that moment, I don’t think the relationship with your friend, kid or colleague benefits from this approach in the long run. It’s not genuine. You’re not showing your true feelings. And they notice.
I have found it’s better to have a difficult conversation sooner than later. Otherwise small frictions turn into huge frustrations and resentment.
Instead of faking interest or affection in the moment, I believe I show true love by communicating how I really feel and then try to find a solution that benefits everyone.
Win-win or no deal.
So I tell my friend I sympathize, but he needs to let go of the drama. I reassure my kid I love her to bits, but now daddy wants some rest. I ask my colleague if the printer issues can wait until 11 o’clock and explain I have to update our homepage in time.
Maybe it won’t make you look saintly or excel at unconditional parenting, but your relations will grow in a genuine way that leaves room for your unique quirks without feeling fake.
Diplomacy becomes the new challenge.
Tough love trumps fake love. I prefer it if people lovingly say ‘no’ to me in stead of ‘yes’ when they don’t truly feel that way. That’s how I want to be treated myself.