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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Trying to Please Everyone

Where do you draw the line in trying to please everyone? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1583).

The fundamental question is:  in my various relationships in which people exercise formal or informal power over me; when, how, and in what manner do I draw the line and do what I would do as if no pressures to please were present?

The first thing to recognize is that pleasing others is no black or white, off or on switch.  For example, on the job I would greatly appreciate the common courtesy of my boss in asking "Wayne could you do such and such?"  rather than imperially demanding "Wayne I order you to do such and such!" Either way, of course, if it were a job requirement I would do it; but my boss always chose to be pleasing in the way he broached the matter.  The same, of course, applies to informal relationships.  Common courtesy is a handy tool that takes many painful edges off: "Please pass the salt" rather than "Hey you, pass the salt!"

It's worth mentioning that power relationships are complicated.  While my boss held formal power over me, I as an employee that he depended upon daily held a degree of informal power over him.  I would suppose that even a gang leader feels some pressures to please his followers.

There are extreme cases where polite negotiation is irrelevant--the relationship between a Polish Jew and a rabid Nazi SS Officer.

All this said, where do I draw the line in trying to please others--given I was always  taught to respect everyone including those with formal or informal authority?  The answer, I suppose, is that I most always TRY to please others--that's my strong preference.  I seek to help and not harm.  But sometimes helping one person will by this very act displease another.  Based upon my own actual experience over the years, this is what I do.  I analyze the character of the need.  I ask, where does the greater need lie and whose displeasure seems more self-serving than serving?  When I answer that question, I then proceed joyfully to do as my conscience directs and to where my conviction leads determining to continue to love and respect everyone.

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