Watching other people (esp my fiance) saying "no" ever so gently has me wondering how easy life could be if I were able to do the same. I'm practicing it, and I think I'm getting better at it. Telling the other person the root cause why you say "no" helps a lot to instill empathy for your situation. The root cause always stems from a need or necessity that you currently have, like need for rest/food/time to think/time to finish this or that task properly/... Even if you are lazy and simply don't want to help right now, remember that this laziness also fulfils one of your needs - probably you need to rest or think.
ADDED: Telling people that you just cannot help _right now_ also softens the blow. Also, if it's a customer then delaying might even be more beneficial than just declining - you might need the billable hours in the following week.
With this reputation in place, people are much less likely to try to trick you into doing what they want, and more likely to try to get you to do things with them.
You have to be a little careful though. If you don't have much social capital to begin with, it could backfire into being ignored altogether. If you overdo it, it may also be counterproductive.
There is nothing original about this. Practically everyone is doing all they can to pretend to be busy, to the point that many people actually believe that they are, and all to avoid meaningful interactions with the people around them. Meaningful interactions are risky and costly and modern people have lost their nerve. It's so much easier to watch Net Flix when you want to feel. I'm sick to death of this. I want to surround myself with people who live deeply and with meaning.
Think about it, how many people, other than your family, really give a shit if you live or die? For most people that number is close to zero and it's not going to change if you buy in to this bullshit that the solution to your problems is to guard your time or focus more on yourself. In my experience, the only people who say they need to start thinking more of their own needs are the ones who have always done so.
That is actually one of the crucial realizations that helped me change my behavior towards others. It may seem hard to believe, but once I understood that interactions were more transactional than I had previously thought (in the sense that you always have to create some form of value for others since people don't care about you otherwise), I was able to have a richer and deeper social life because people fundamentally changed the way they responded to me.
I had the exact same goal you've described in your post. Like you've hinted at, the current trend in society is along the lines "however cares the least wins" and the sad truth is that you have to play the game to some extent to unlock richer interactions. People who don't respect you will rarely have meaningful interactions with you, if at all. I know this because I've been on both sides of the aisle.
>In my experience, the only people who say they need to start thinking more of their own needs are the ones who have always done so.
I agree, since I used to be this person. The only thing I'm suggesting is that for people to consider you a certain way you have to act a certain way to meet their conscious and unconscious expectations, even if the charade is irrational as a whole. Think of it as a way to get a social baseline that will in turn help you have a more meaningful existence. In fact, in my case I started to like people more and more since I ended up with fewer mental burdens and negative feelings.
It is oftentimes limiting too much - their expectations costs you. I get what you are saying and that it works that way, but it oftentimes forces you to pretend you don't like things you like or to avoid things you would like to try. I mean, yeah, they would respond to me better and I would have more meaningful social interactions, but the cost is too much.
Of course, this is only my own experience and will not be relevant for most people. However, it's certainly a counter-intuitive notion that merits investigation. At the very least, it's quite helpful to critically evaluate your most common habits and patterns.
The virtuous cycle is to learn what and who you care about. The vicious cycle is to shake your fist at the TV.
Most of it is about research proper but he also includes a passage relating on how to respond to other people and which battles to choose.
To quote Seth Rogen -
It is not binary
This is a big generalisation. Perhaps true in some specific contexts but certainly not in general. "Practically everyone" is not pretending to be busy to escape meaningful interactions. But many people are indeed pretending to be busy for the reason Bakary stated.
> Think about it, how many people, other than your family, really give a shit if you live or die?
Several tens at least. If you maintain good friendships and have a healthy work environment there is no reason why this wouldn't be the case.
To me, it's a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way, if anybody says, "Hey, can you give me a hand?" you can say, "Sorry, got these sacks."
One of his good friend's used another real estate agent to buy a house.
The broker, upset that his friend had not contacted him, asked why?
The response, "we thought you were too busy."
This happened two weeks ago.
It's generally a good idea, as a rule of thumb, to avoid mixing family/friendship with business(1) - professionals should already know/understand this and respect it. Friends may have copped out with "thought you were too busy" to avoid further offending broker who clearly doesn't understand professionalism and personal boundaries.
Absolutely consult with your friends/family but tread very carefully when considering hiring them. Never, ever, question why a friend doesn't hire you or take it personally - business is business, friendship is friendship.
(1) I have a friend who learned this the hard way when they hired a mutual friend's dad to cater an event. God, that was a disaster that almost ruined a good friendship.
When looking for a real-estate agent, one of the top pieces of advice is: DO NOT use a friend or family member. Just, don't. Nothing personal, it's just not how you go about looking for a quality real-estate agent ... even if they happen to be a great one.
It's better to be a "grayman:" blend-in by being as boring, generic and forgetable as possible. Disappear, not seek to social climb, because that will only attract different sorts of "stalkers" whom also will have demands.
I essentially molded my behavior on that of people who I myself perceived to be busy and "important". In some cases, I wasn't even consciously aware that I treated some people with more respect and others with less (those who showed the same accommodating behavior I did, or worse) until I critically examined my relationship with them. It worked like a charm.
The most encouraging development was that after while I actually became a person with "things going on". Of course, this was only the natural progression of increased confidence, focus and free time.
I would say the single most effective response was to change the way I responded to people via electronic means. You have to artificially delay and shorten your responses (whether through emails or text messages/chat apps) and interact much more sporadically in some contexts (for instance, greatly decreasing the volume of your social media presence while not disappearing altogether). The first is common (even basic) knowledge for anyone younger than 35, and the second is a little less obvious but no less significant. It works in both a social and professional context, and I've seen it work for people of all ages, from my elderly boss to some of my friends in their twenties. Ironically by responding to a bunch of comments here I've clearly not followed this rule of thumb.
The most effective general trait was to conceal any trace of eagerness and idleness, while at the same time being present and in the moment. Being aloof and relaxed while at the same time not pushing people away completely. This is also common knowledge, but hard to apply consistently.
It sure looks silly and duplicitous when typed out like this (and it is!) but it works.
Delaying responses in a professional setting can hamper your actual productivity though – and appear inattentive or disrespectful, not busy.
For one, there is a general reciprocity of responsiveness, i.e., the faster you respond to them, the faster they'll respond to you. And of course, that's relative. They won't necessarily mimic your response time, but your time will affect where their responses are in their normal range of response time.
I've witnessed this firsthand numerous times. A colleague will complain Bob takes days to respond, whereas I typically get a response the same day – and the inverse too. It's not hard data, but the pattern seems true.
The other part is that I see no real benefit in delaying a response. I happen to be in a legitimately busy phase right now, but I still try to be fairly responsive. The nuance is that my quick responses are sometimes just me saying that I'll respond in depth by the end of the day/week/whatever and to please let me know if a response is needed sooner.
I can imagine scenarios where that's not appropriate, but in general, that approach makes more sense to me. It still communicates that you're busy but doesn't artificially delay things or unintentionally disrespect people.
Be careful with this one. It's very much possible to state a reason and still express that you won't change your mind on the matter. Although it is more effort, you won't lose people's goodwill.
If you're a family member, friend, coworker, etc.--i.e., someone who has a reasonable expectation of my putting aside whatever I'm doing to consider your request--then this response would be reasonable. (But even then you have to respect the other person's time.)
But that isn't what the author of the article was describing. He was describing people who had no valid reason to expect him to be at their beck and call, still treating him as if he were at their beck and call. Such people are not entitled to a reason, because they're not entitled to any claim on your time in the first place. A polite "no" is enough.
(I should probably also clarify that by "friend" I don't mean "someone I just met on Facebook" or "someone I have a few beers with once in a while". I mean someone you have known for a fair amount of time and with whom you have mutual trust.)
The remark in parenthesis is pretty important here. A lot of people seem to feel entitled to your full and immediate attention 24/7 just because they're family or know you for a while. I suppose GP feels that too ("what, you think you're so important that you can brush me off just like that, and I'm not even worthy being given a reason?"). There's this strange phenomenon when people in some sort of relationship start treating the other party with less respect they'd show to a stranger.
I spent a lot of my late-teen / young-adult years teaching people around me that yes, I'm always open to help, but if you want me to consider your request, please respect my time and focus - it'll be better for both of us. I even translated PG's "Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule" just so I could show it to my mom (and some other) in order to explain why I don't respond well to being asked to do trivial errands at random times during the day.
At work I simplify this - when I want to signal I'm concentrating, I just put on over-the-ear headphones.
And mind you - I'm probably one of the more accommodating person you'd met. I find it very hard to say "no" when people ask me for help nicely. What I wrote above is the result of dealing with years of frustration and eventually deciding it's too much.
I had not even thought of doing this, it's brilliant. I often run into this issue with my mother when I visit, even though I am her adult son. I will certainly try this.
Anyway, for people from Poland who might find the essay useful, here's the translation: http://esejepg.pl/eseje/makersschedule.html. There are also some others (in particular, I wanted to have "What You'll Wish You'd Known" available too, to show to my younger siblings).
(I'd also love to get some help with translating more of the essays. After some personal issues back some 4 years ago I lost the drive to continue the work; since then, however, I've been told those translations are actually being printed out and given to people in some business classes, which sounds like they're useful to someone.)
It's not rudeness, but honesty that makes me dislike giving reasons. Sometimes I give the reason "I don't want to" which seems about as correct as I can understand.
edit: I have found this especially true in family/personal matters
If somebody thinks you lazy, so be it. But you don't owe anyone a reason.
Reasons, as you see them, are often "excuses" to the other person. Mught be even worse. Now you're not just lazy, you also make excuses.
Personally I'm bad at this too. I often give reasons/excuses when there's no need and even more often I say No by not saying anything at all and waiting for the thing to pass.
If saying the reason would not lead to people taking advantage of it, I would say it. But with many people it does.
But I would not just brush you off, actually. I would attempt to find a way to help you if I would see one or attempted to redirect you to someone who can help. So even if I wont do what you want, unless I have bad experience with you personally, I would try to figure out alternative solution.
It depends on who you are in the scheme of things. If you're a friend, colleague or family member you have the expectation that you can depend on a person because of your proximity to them in a social network. No usually does need to be qualified in those cases. But if you're not closely tied to a person in a network and request something from them, to expect a reason or explanation for non-compliance is unreasonable.
Social networks often act as ledgers for who owes whom what and when you're asked by someone who is a distant node in the network to do something the risk is greater that your actions won't be reciprocated in some form, even if its simply an acknowledgement of what you did for them, because you can't appraise their character.
Caveats: Money is a shortcut through all of this social-ledger malarkey. My explanation ignores time as a cost factor. I can't back any of this up with facts.
> "System 1" is fast, instinctive and emotional; "System 2" is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow
When I'm imposing on your time it's only normal that you get a chance to say 'no', whatever the reason for it.
There's nevertheless a psychological difference between (variations on) "sorry dude, too many things on my plate this week" and "No.". There's nothing about the former anyone one can argue with, but it shows that you value basic human mutual understanding.
If the couch-owner truly lacks self-awareness, to the point where they constantly badger you with unreasonable requests (we all know that one guy), then a "No." isn't going to enlighten them either – in that case, you do them a favour by respectfully but explicitly informing them that their request is unreasonable.
I have a friend like this and, while we get along great most of the time, he is always interrogating people who say no to him and you can just tell he's assuming 'the true reason is laziness'.
People make complex decisions and they shouldn't always have to explain why. Especially with someone you trust.
I.e. if in the way you ask you show you're expecting them to comply, you're doing it wrong. Show respect to people's need for autonomy, and they'll be more willing to help you out.
"No, I can't do that for you at 5pm on a Friday. I can have it for you by noon on Monday, you can ask X to do the work, or you can invent a time machine and go back 24-hours and give the work to me yesterday."
I have incorrectly assumed that time or money were the priorities, but with a little more information found out something else was really driving the request.
What about the laziness of not handling the matter yourself? Talk about entitlement!
And if they are the type to push people around whenever they are able, you've basically just told them they are going to win this battle, so go ahead.
Yet also, I help if I can and if it does not cost me all that much. It is not like I would be saying only no to everyone around.
This strategy is largely the answer to specific people I deal with and their strategies. It does alienates them a bit sometimes, but it is not possible to keep everyone happy all that time and I am very unhappy with that negotiation I am trying to avoid.
I.e "Can you just take on $LARGE_TASK?" -> "No, I'm currently overbooked. But I can put you in contact with X, who might be able to help"
"Can you fix dinner?" -> "No, I need to wrap this up. Maybe we can cook something together after?"
It doesn't always work - sometimes a plain no is really called for - but in many cases, it takes off the pressure of flatly declining.
See  "The Mindlessness of Ostensibly Thoughtful Action: The Role of `Placebic` Information in Interpersonal Interaction".
> Langer had people request to break in on a line of people waiting to use a busy copy machine on a college campus. The researchers had the people use three different, carefully worded requests to break in line:
> “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?” [60% compliance]
> “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” [93% compliance]
> “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” [94% compliance]
> Using the word “because” and giving a reason resulted in significantly more compliance. This was true even when the reason was not very compelling (“because I have to make copies"). The researchers hypothesize that people go on “automatic” behavior or “mindlessness” as a form of a heuristic, or short-cut. And hearing the word “because” followed by a reason (no matter how lame the reason is), causes us to comply.
"Can you just take on $LARGE_TASK?" -> "No, because $RANDOM. But I can put you in contact with X, because $RANDOM"
"Can you fix dinner?" -> "No, because $RANDOM. Maybe we can cook something together after?"
At what point is using this kind of method just clever, and at what point is it highly manipulative and antisocial?
In the "no, but" approach, I see no harm in it - compliance does not result in a negative result for the other person. You're not going to do it anyway, but they're going to feel better about it than just a simple "no".
In "because I have to make copies"... your call. I wouldn't, because I'd consider this improving my result at the expense of yours.
You don't actually always have to be 100% truthful with everyone. (That will also serve you badly in other social situations, BTW.)
 Point being that even if people eventually find out that you did tell them a "white lie", they'll actually usually be very understanding because that's the societal norm and they realize that you were just trying to "spare them" from embarassment/awkwardness/losing face/whatever.
The white lie would be "Sorry my foot hurts, I had an accident yesterday, so I cannot help you. I really wish I could, but you know..."
Regarding your addition about white lies - I personally very seldomly lie in a detectable way, because I am very embarrassed if the other one finds out. You are certainly correct that white lies are easily forgiven, but IMO the perception of a "white liar" changes if you find out about the lie - I look at them as cowards, because they are too weak to just say no - does that make sense?
Why would I want to come off as reliable for things I don't want to be doing in the first place? That's a great way to get to do even more of the things you don't want to do. Sounds terrible.
Align your interests with mine, then we can talk about reliable.
In the words of one Richard Feynman : http://www.deliberate.rest/?p=685
> So I have invented another myth for myself—that I’m irresponsible. I tell everybody, I don’t do anything. If anybody asks me to be on a committee to take care of admissions, no, I’m irresponsible, I don’t give a damn about the students—of course I give a damn about the students but I know that somebody else’ll do it—and I take the view, “Let George do it,” a view which you’re not supposed to take, okay, because that’s not right to do, but I do that because I like to do physics and I want to see if I can still do it, and so I’m selfish, okay? I want to do my physics.
90% of the time, being "reliable" goes against my best interests in terms of career and goals. My value is that I can hunker down and make stuff. My value is not "tasks".
Anecdote: It only goes so far. There are quite a lot of people who will be quite pissed off with you (passively) if you're unreliable. I mean, friends will tolerate it, but let me tell you, as someone who's quite "reliable" (punctual, do what I promise, etc.) it's quite stressful to have to rely on someone who isn't. So stressful, in fact, that I wouldn't actually interact very much with this particular person I'm thinking of right now if I wasn't forced to (via circumstances beyond my control).
> [Snip Feynman] anecdote.
Feynman could get away with a lot of shit that almost nobody else would have done because he was a genius (and was recognized as such by his contemporaries).
Are you at "Feynman"-level?
> 90% of the time, being "reliable" goes against my best interests in terms of career and goals.
^ I don't see what the above...
> My value is that I can hunker down and make stuff. My value is not "tasks".
... has to do with this. Can you explain?
It boils down to finding enough courage to focus on your priorities in life and not feeling guilty about it. Respect yourself (your time) and people will respect you.
I think we might be talking about two different kinds of unreliable.
When you hire me to do a job, or I agree to build something for you, or something along those lines. When that happens, I will stop at nothing until it's done. I might be off in my estimate of how long it takes, and I might come back to you and suggest a revised plan if I think new information significantly changes the scope/cost of the project. But in the end, it will be done.
You can rely on me to take things to completion.
But you'd be a fool to rely on me to answer your email within 1 hour, or a day, sometimes at all. You wouldn't want to rely on me to pick up the phone when you call. And you definitely don't want to rely on me to make it to drinks or dinner exactly on time. Unless there's a very hard external deadline (like theatre tickets), I'm probably going to be a few minutes late.
And you wouldn't want to rely on me to, say, buy your airplane tickets. Or random little things like that. I'll get around to doing "Random low priority task" at some point maybe. Don't rely on me for those.
The whole point of this unreliableness is so that you won't even ask. If I say I'm gonna do it, I'll do it, probably riiiight before the external deadline. But I'd prefer you don't even ask. And you'll be much less stressed about it if you don't.
Hell, I hire a VA for stuff like that because even I don't want to rely on myself to do such things.
The lateness, that's a bad habit. It comes from losing track of time when I go into deep work mode. It happens a lot and very easily.
The dropping of small things I consider low priority and/or irrelevant. Well that's just prioritization, if I'm working on something I think is important and there's no time left over for your email or message or phone call or random little task. Tough. I have a laundry list of my own little tasks that I also didn't get to.
> Are you at "Feynman"-level?
Probably not, but the US government does say I am an alien with exceptional ability in the arts or the sciences so there's that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I definitely agree that there's a difference between "generally unreliable" and "unreliable until committed". Coincidentally the person from my anecdote is also "your type", but unfortunately it's really hard to tell from the outset if he's committed or not, so...
As long as people are very clear about when they're committed, I have absolutely no problem with "unreliable" people :).
I think that stems from an "avoiding confrontation" place. I grew up with a mother that would take it very very poorly if I said "No" for things, so I got used to saying "yeah sure uh-huh" without even hearing what I'm agreeing to.
Sometimes I still do that. It's mostly frustrating for my girlfriend tho, doesn't happen in other contexts. She'll get upset about why I didn't do something I said I would and I won't even remember what she's talking about.
Potentially something similar exists for your friend person. There's a spectrum between "uh-huh" and "Yes, this is amazing, I'm starting right now"
As you say -- as far as I can tell -- it's probably "just" about honest communication... or maybe you're just irresponsible! (That was a joke!)
Just out of curiosity when+why didn't you "do something I said I would"? Of course you mention that you don't remember her saying it, but that just leaves the question of... why don't you remember it? I'm not trying to be an asshole, I'm really curious about this dynamic.
My "troublesome" friend person is probably very similar to you -- not having access to your or his internal monologue, I can't be sure -- but honestly, I think maybe he's just prioritizing badly, if you know what I mean? Maybe he lacks empathy to see how much distress his procrastination sometimes causes?
I should also add that "we" have obligations to third-parties which means that his procrastination sometimes means that "we" + "others" have to do 24h+ shifts just because he didn't prepare/do-it-in-time. Just out of curiosity, is this this something you would do (intentionally or not)?
(I won't lie, that shit is stressful. Even if you want and are willing to get it done on time this "$X isn't quite ready" thing is extremely stressful until "you" get it done.)
 Because Psychoanalysis is mostly bullshit.
 External accountants and that sort of thing. It's absurd how far this procrastination (about fully known calendar dates) is.
 Think drug cartels... or the Tax Man. Take your pick! :)
To be honest, it's probably happened before. When it involves other people, I make sure it doesn't. When it's just me and I am willing to bear the risk, yeah, bureaucracy def gets done late.
As for brushing people off with "yeah sure". That happens when you bug me while I'm deep in thought on something. Like I'm in the middle of writing an article or I'm coding something that takes a lot of focus. If you bug me during such a time, I will often agree to things without even listening to you because it makes the distraction go away faster. I'm not ready to have a conversation about it or to deal with your protestation when I say "No", so I just say "uh-huh".
It's very obvious to everyone when this happens. And we all do it to an extent. Like when somebody is in the middle of furious texting and you say from across the room "Honey can you take out the trash?" they'll often say "ahuh" but then not do it becuase they don't even remember the interaction.
Almost everyone I know does that. My girlfriend included.
When it comes to important things, I should hope that adults would understand when it is and when it isn't a good time to make the ask. Like, if I'm scrambling to put my things together because the taxi is waiting downstairs to take me to the airport, don't use that exact moment to be like "Yo dude, the cartels are coming on monday, you have to get X Y and Z ready by tomorrow".
Basically, make sure I'm paying attention to you before you ask me for things that you intend to rely on.
I definitely understand the "yeah sure" bit, even as a "normal" :). Well, actually, I don't think I'm a "normal", I'm probably a "hyper", but... whatever.
As long as there's no mistaken signals, everything's cool. I mean, I sometimes "go rogue", I just tend to announce it a few weeks in advance ;).
No need to reply to any of this, I just found it very interesting to read this experience "from the other side" and from an "honest" perspective.
Although, it doesn't work with very close people that are expecting a concrete justification unless you want to enter in white lies' territory.
I try to be very consistent about it - they really can work out pretty much anything with me in a respectful and rational way, so the above is not a dismissal, it's enforcing communications protocol.
What's the effect of you marking me as unreliable? Will you stop considering me for certain tasks, or will you cease any relationship with me?
Most people don't get it, but they're confused long enough for me to escape.
I have no idea where I got that line from, but it's stuck because of it's absurdist hilarity.
I don't say this as a serious reply of course. It's intended to communicate that the nature of the request is such that I feel I shouldn't even have to decline it. In practice usually it just generates friendly confusion, which benefits all parties.
disclaimer: I don't have a cat. Nor would I wax one if I did.
The truth is usually along the lines of "Sorry, I would like to be able to help, but I have too much on my plate right now and more keeps being added to it every day."
It's basically plausible deniability (or "denial", if you will) for social interactions... which is at the basis of most of human interaction, if you think about it.
EDIT: Of course, if you're laboring under "Depressive Realism" then all of this is pretty transparent, but if you buy the DR hypothesis then most people actually don't notice this type of thing going on (at the meta level, obviously sometimes they'll discover they've been lied to, etc.).
I think the key there is "assuming that they both take the hint. Which is that the other person needs to get the message that it's no, is it's not really allowing them to avoid unpleasant interactions, because they're still getting a no no matter what. It's really just allowing us to save face and avoid unpleasant interactions.
Wouldn't it be much more pleasant to say something like "I'm sorry I don't think of you in that way," or "I'm sorry you're not my type" or better yet"I'm sorry but I'm not interested in going out on a date."
For the other party these are not much more hurtful than "I have to attend dull party" and they eliminate the ambigiousness that might have the other party second guessing or thinking there is a chance if you lie and tell them you have other arrangements. Worse yet it will create a worse situation if they see or hear about you hanging around town on the date of your dull party.
EDIT: There's also the whole "Oh, I've been rebuffed, but thank $DEITY that $OBJECT_OF_MY_DESIRE didn't really know what I was asking". That is, people think that they've got the "secret code" to get away with asking X (by saying "innocuous" Y) thinking that the other person doesn't realize what they're really being asked.
Of course there's the more transparent ones like "Do you want to come up to see my etchings?", but also the rather more ambiguous "Would you like to come up for some coffee?".
(There's a lot of instances of people just not getting the hint. For loads of examples see: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/6d53vz/ladies_wh...
... but that is kind of the reverse of what I'm talking about, I guess, so YMMV.)
Personally, I think it's still rude, but it works for her in ways that being bluntly rude don't.
I had a manager who told me for about a year straight that I had to stop telling people "no" so bluntly, but instead offer other suggestions for their problem. She said I was just shutting them down, and they ... felt bad or something. I forget what she said. The point was that I shouldn't just shut them down, but I should try to help them with their problem.
This was so hard for me to learn because when I ask a question, I really do want the answer to that question, and it infuriates me when they dance around it or try to guess what question I really want to ask and answer that. Newsflash: That was it. I'm very literal.
Instead, what was happening was that after they asked their question and I answered, "no," they'd walk away and not attempt to get my help again with it afterwards.
For the longest time, I thought they were like me and that they were looking to have their question answered. They weren't. They were trying (clumsily) to get help with their problem.
Depends. Are we assuming you can't draw in seven dimensional Hilbert space?
This formula is a great way of saying no in a positive way, and the whole book is spent explaining the formula and how to apply it. There are many examples throughout the book, and William Ury does a great job teaching the reader how to say no in the best possible way. Even if you don’t normally have a hard time saying no, it is still valuable to read, because the system he lays out is so well thought out. It’s a quick read, and all the examples make it even easier to understand.
In those cases I may still turn it down but often I find that I can make a compromise at that point that satisfies both parties.
Be careful with that, friend :)
Through experience, I've come to believe that this holds true in long-term personal relationships, too. While many will tell you that compromise is the key to a successful marriage, I think that standing up for yourself and who you need to be usually is more important.
There's a needle on the gauge of life that experiences pressure to move from both directions. When you are too accommodating or compromise unequally, the needle moves towards you and establishes a new norm for expected behavior. Your job should be to push back just enough to keep the needle balanced at a point where you retain a full sense of self and the space within which to exercise it. That requires a strong sense of introspection and can take years of adult life to develop.
Most people come into the world assuming that their desires are everybody's desires. We live life by the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." This obscures that there's often a wide variety in the things we would like others to do unto us, and that assuming everybody wants what you wants often leads us to do exactly what they don't want.
It was a revelation when my therapist told me "You need to show love in the ways that other people want to receive it, not the way you want to send it." It hadn't really occurred to me before then that things I considered really inconsequential - checking if she got home okay, or leaving the porch light on for her at night - might really matter to my girlfriend (now wife), or that things that I considered really important - like listening to my latest theory on reality, or showing enthusiasm when I show her my latest product demo - might be considered inconsequential by her.
Many people have this intuitive idea that service & favors are a zero-sum game, but in actuality, some actions cost you a lot less than the recipient benefits from them, and some cost you a lot more than the recipient cares. It makes a lot of sense to perform favors that are cheap for you but benefit the recipient a lot. It's on you to figure out how much the recipient cares and how much time & energy you can spare for them.
I'm curious, was it along the lines of this? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Five_Love_Languages
Isn't the definition of "important" what people disagree over when it comes to compromise? My girlfriend can say X is super important to her but in my eyes Y is more important than X and hence I will have to let go of X and hold on to Y. Convincing someone of why X or Y is more important than the other is where most of the conflict happens.
>"You need to show love in the ways that other people want to receive it, not the way you want to send it."
This is true and easy to follow but it doesn't capture my concern above which seems to be much more complex than this scenario.
There are some issues that really are mutually exclusive, mostly because they cut to the heart of what a relationship is. If one partner wants kids and the other wants no-kids, there isn't really a way to resolve that and still have what people would consider a marriage. If one partner wants to live on a farm but the other wants to live in the city, or one is a neat-freak and the other is a compulsive hoarder, you're headed for problems. If one wants the kids raised as Orthodox Jews and the other wants them to be fundamentalist Christians, this is probably insoluble within the conventional definitions of those religions. These are beliefs where you really want to make sure you match before you get married.
But even a lot of things that look totally contradictory at first can have solutions if you're willing to give up other stuff. I know couples that live in different cities and only see each other on weekends, or ones of different religions where they've just decided to mash their different cultures together and create their own religion for the kids.
That's a brilliant insight. Thanks for sharing!
Here's a sample model: http://righttojoy.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Assertive-v...
Collaboration is value-generating. It takes more effort and yields more return. Rather than 'pushing back' you work together to understand what is important to each party and find ways to meet those needs. This must be built on an equal foundation - your needle in the middle - for most effective good-faith negotiation. Your partner needs to be reasonably intelligent and reasonable for this to work.
You need to teach people what's important to you, rather than expecting them to read your mind.
Highly recommend the negotiation book 'Getting to Yes' for a thorough treatment of these concepts.
Most people are capable of being reasonable and behaving intelligently; they may just not be used to it. I figured this out some time ago. The way I do it if someone doesn't behave reasonably is to politely make it clear that working together on a problem is the only way they can get something from me.
"Getting to Yes" is a good book, I second the recommendation.
Your technical preference is a position you take to achieve your interests. To collaborate, you have to be willing to reveal and effectively articulate your underlying interests.
 https://markmanson.net/books/subtle-art (quasi-NSFW)
This is the best thing I've read for a long time:
"Because when we give too many fucks, when we choose to give a fuck about everything, then we feel as though we are perpetually entitled to feel comfortable and happy at all times, that’s when life fucks us."
So, I think your point really was spot on. Introspection is critical.
My new formula is to be accommodating when it doesn't negatively affect me and if it does, make it clear that some request will be effort and I'll have to consider whether I can accommodate it (which assumes of course that it isn't an official duty). Its not about trying to force people to respect me, if I respect myself enough (for valid reasons, this doesn't excuse baseless bravado or anything) it doesn't really matter, I won't allow myself to be taken advantage of and generally that means the same thing. In a relationship (new or old) it can be as simple as when asked to do something that isn't something you would be expected to do just asking more questions about the thing. When exactly is it? How long is it going to take? You aren't being a dick by trying to factor some request into your own time, you have other things you want or need to do and 99% of the time people will respect that. Just following a request up with questions about the specifics of the request shows more self-respect that immediately being like "sure I can do that, when is it and where?", which says that you'll work around their request rather than the other way around.
I've even applied this to how I drive - I used to be much more concerned with people who were in a Great Hurry in the left lane, I would find a spot to get into the right lane even if I had to slow down to do so (usually getting me stuck behind someone who then somehow seems to be going 10mph slower than I even realized). I did this partly out of politeness and knowing how frustrating it can be to be stuck behind people, but a fair percentage of the time the person in a hurry is going 20mph+ over the speed limit and I'm probably already going 10-15 and I am passing people on the right at a fair clip and chances are there isn't even much space ahead to take up. I used to be stressed by these situations when I was less secure but now I'm not going to put myself out and dodge in and out of traffic for someone who is driving unreasonably and it doesn't stress me out to have someone raging behind me because chances are that person is going to be raging at someone no matter what, might as well be me. I'll get over for them when its safe and convenient and let them by but not at my own expense. I know this is kind of a trivial situation but it was kind of a big realization for me when I got over being stressed out by having other people be displeased with me.
Road rage is serious business. I think intent is hard to guess and we err on the side of caution. You are right that you open yourself up to mistakes if you weave and dodge through traffic. Tough call sometimes.
Some words of hard earned "wisdom": make sure the pendulum doesn't swing too far out in the other direction.
I went from being an accommodating person to an intense asshole - trying to dial it back now but it's hard, especially when you notice that people definitely respect you more for good or bad reasons when you're like that. Take it too far though, and it will of course go all the way around and bite you in the ass.
what people tend to respect innately is a genuinely nice person who can instantly turn into a no-holds-barred asshole if bad intentions are detected.
>I gave to them for years, at the expense of those who had a far better claim upon my generosity.
There's a life skill getting pointed at here. Specifically, comparing the demand to the level of obligation you want to fulfill, and reacting appropriately. There's another higher-level skill of figuring out what the results of different obligation levels are and strategically choosing them.
Basically, saying "yes" implies saying "no" to the alternatives, and sometimes those alternatives are far better.
In social dance contexts, I'm usually happy when people decline to dance with me. It's dead obvious when someone isn't enthusiastic about the dance, and much less fun than getting shot down. Similarly in business contexts - an unreliable "yes" is worse than a "no", because you can get burned relying on the "yes" you did get rather than trying elsewhere after the "no".
Not really, the "trick" is actually contained within the wisdom of the last paragraph of the piece.
I have gone through the same process. Maybe it's because I am getting old, meditation or I just don't care anymore, I have slowly learned what's really important to me. I am generally pretty accommodating but for some things I won't negotiate and just say "No" without any further explanation.
This seems to work reasonably well with most people.
I don't really know what I am trying to say but maybe it's to have your priorities figured out and be flexible with unimportant stuff but firm with important stuff. That is, stuff that's important to you, not somebody else.
Also: the busiest doctor in town is the one who did not said "no my schedule is full" despite being overworked already.
It's quite crazy how hard medical professionals are overworked. It's impossible there's not plenty of mistakes happening. Whether you'll ever hear it is something different.
Why am I the one considered “impolite” by not dropping everything and helping you immediately, if you haven’t bothered to do things like:
- Indicate everything you have tried already (or worse, you haven’t done any basic research yourself)?
- Consider the possibility that I can’t respond instantaneously because my Inbox has dozens of other items already? Or that I didn’t answer my phone or your text because I was actually busy, or in a bathroom, or due to some other totally reasonable explanation?
- Consider that you are basically asking for free help, when there are people who pay for my time?
- Show even the slightest interest in helping others yourself?
Of course, it gets trickier in different situations for different reasons. But basically, people try to use shaming and emotional blackmail to get what they want, don't let them.
One other thing: I think about the fundamental attribution error / actor-observer bias a lot. You're an asshole because you won't do the thing I want, but when someone else asked me for a thing and I said no, it was because I was busy and etc etc. This dynamic influences so much of what people think about others and themselves.
However, I get ideas brought to me from everywhere, incl. friends of friends of friends. I'm happy to provide detailed thoughts and notes but now I make sure to challenge the person and the idea.
If it's a good idea, I want them to do some work upfront before I put anything else into it. Sad to say that most people start really excited about their idea, then I'll note that there are companies doing the same or nearly the same thing already, that they need to differentiate, what it's going to take to compete, etc and they will get completely deflated. Most of the time there's no follow up. That's why most people can't be entrepreneurs.
I've helped out way too many people in the past only to have them give up so easily. So if you're in this camp - I'd recommend challenging those that want your help - it's a great filter and also a way to say yes and no at the same time. You'll end up wasting less time and you'll still be open to great collaborations and more rewarding experiences from helping others out.
I used to not do this and wasted a lot of time in the process. Do you find it hard to shake the reputation you had from before? I know I do.
So if someone refers someone to me, I'll tell them that I'm happy to assist however I can at this point but that my time is limited for the foreseeable future. You can do that directly or just by letting them know what you're currently working on. I want to keep the opportunity open while being honest about how I might be able to assist. Down the road it may even make sense for me to shift my time from one of my other projects/companies to the new opportunity that was cultivated from the reputation.
If it's an area that I'm not interested in, I'll say that too - "the restaurant (tech) business is tough and I don't have expertise in that arena so it's not for me". But I'll usually provide some strategies and let them know that the dialogue is always open with me.
We'd be super weirded out if someone in front of us in the queue in the supermarket committed suicide so we could pay faster. Apart from that probably increasing checkout times for everybody -- just imagine the chaos -- we wouldn't even appreciate "the thought", we'd be like "how DARE you use me for this?". Most of us don't mind being catered to or even pampered, but we don't want others to just throw themselves away for us. There are limits, even though it's kind of invisible most of the time, there is a line where hurting ourselves too much to help others a little bit actually hurts society, and offends others, correctly so.
Last but certainly not least: this over-the-top, dysfunctional selflessness in the sense of having no self (or rather, not respecting one's self) attracts not only knights in shining armour, but mostly baaaad types. You might say abuse breeds abuse in that someone who for some reason is playing doormat is emitting pheromones for people who like to trample on others. I really don't mean this to victim blame at all, but it's sadly true. And the less you let others violate your boundaries, the clearer your sight becomes for what you can freely give for mutual benefit. E.g. don't spend 2 weeks to save someone 5 minutes, but do spend 5 minutes to save someone 2 weeks.
TL;DR: you can't be a good friend to others without being a good friend to yourself first.
You might say abuse breeds abuse in that someone who for some reason is playing doormat is emitting pheromones for people who like to trample on others.
This is absolutely true. Perhaps some readers were confused by your metaphorical use of 'pheromones' to mean signalling in general. A great example of this is griefing behavior in MMORPGs (and trolling in general, but in games it's already quantified and thus far easier to measure). Most games implement some sort of safe zone and/or NPC policing function to prevent griefers from hassling new players to the point of wrecking the game, which is the griefers' underlying and often unconscious objective (so as to 'own' the territory of the game space even if this is poisonous to the growth of the player pool).
Denied the ability to pick on newbies, griefers then usually collect in small packs and lurk around entry-exit routes to danger zones (whether from NPCs or territorial conflict) where there's a possibility to target outcoming damaged players or incoming ones pushing up against their skill envelope. Griefers like to think of themselves as apex predators, but typically lack the self-discipline and strategic vision required to organize as such, so more often than not they occupy the same environmental as scavengers such as hyenas, vultures etc.
I haven't kept up with the latest research on this, but I recall that EVE had an economist on staff several years ago and I'd imagine that the larger participants in that market are open to or already working with sociologists, game theorists, and other quantitative social scientists to better understand the dynamics of their virtual ecosystem.
For 'nice' players (in games and in life) who don't comfortably slot into large teams, the usual advice is to be more of an asshole. And while that's partly true, being an armored up lone wolf will only take you so far. Unless the system as a whole is dysfunctional, individual lone wolves are never competitive against anything bigger than a small-medium team. However, lone wolves can team up and be very effective; to do so they (obviously) have to overcome significant trust barriers, but can succeed by maintaining smallish flat structures and growing hierarchies below those.
Manners are in fact detailed prescriptive means & methods for being submissive, or rather for sending submissive signals, as the default behavior in societies where there are more humans living together than normal, i.e. anytime after 1800 when the population really started to shoot upward and to urbanize. It ends up being very practical to train people to be submissive in an urban industrial society, because if you have a thousand supposed self-declared alpha-apes constantly fighting it out "out there," things become a mess very quickly.
Edit: to the respondents, I am intentionally keeping morality out of it (decency and so forth), because a strictly moralistic right/wrong judgment-based view didn't seem to be enhancing the parent's understanding. But dominance & submission, like morality, is just another narrow rubric for viewing the world, doesn't describe the whole world, and isn't the only way of describing the world. So it's best not to take it too far beyond a blurry big-picture view!
However fawning and currying favor may indeed be submissive, but are not proscribed by any idea of "politeness" I am aware of. Excessive accommodation to the detriment of yourself and your interests would also be submissive in my view.
I disagree, I think it is more submissive than doing the opposite. But that's not a bad thing - people who are never submissive don't fit into society. They have terrible manners and drive dangerously, like you point out.
A certain amount of strength is admired, but too much and you're almost unilaterally rejected.
But some people might be so submissive by nature that "Never Submit" is good advice for them, because in those situations where they really should submit it will never even occur to them not to.
The manners you speak of are the hypocritical sort - e.g. calling Trump "Mr. President" even though he deserves no respect in any sort of situation, just because he is "the President". It is this sort of manners where people (i.e. the talking chimpanzees) get upset because social protocols are being violated - the social protocols used to enforce submission, dominance, and status. These social protocols are used to cover up all the bullshit talking chimpanzees like to get up to.
Someone who is almost always selfish may find they are the most respected when they accomodate.
A lot of timid people are attracted to strong people. You say the things they wish they had the bravery to say, and they respect it. It's aspirational.
This was probably the best part for me. We have longer life spans and so we trick ourselves into thinking that we have more time to waste on things we don't really want to do. We can procrastinate all we want but in the end, we still come back to this question without a single clue of how to answer it.
“On the contrary, it is Christian in the very finest sense,” I replied. “What was it that Jesus said when his parents rebuked him for his failure to keep his engagement with them on that first journey down from Jerusalem? ‘Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?’ He demanded. He had work to do — great work and little time in which to do it. Even He was no exception to the eternal rule that achievement comes only through the subordination of every power to a great ideal; and that no man is really obliging who does not first discharge in full his obligations to his work.”
My take would be - this is arguing within a nonsensical framework, and we are prolonging the hopefully last stages of the superstitious demon-haunted world era of humanity.
I find little in the results of past such victories to recommend the conflict be reopened. Should you care to take the time, I'd be interested to hear what leads you to view the matter so differently.
Anyway, what leads me to view the matter differently is that I do not simply look to the past to inform me of what will be effective tomorrow. I also look to the potential that flourishes in microcosms of today. And to the increasing efficacy of our culture's ability to promote and propagate the valuable ideas of individuals and small groups. How we communicate today distinctly different than in the past, and it opens some doors in a big way. And it is far too soon to say whether this is a good or bad thing, so we may as well do what we can to ensure it is a good thing.
You might believe war doesn't ever change, but it can change quite quickly when a new weapon is developed. More importantly, even if the victory is temporary, the results of a temporary enlightenment can guide the development of society for ages after the war has been lost. Greek democracy failed, but still lessons where learned. Enlightenments wane, but the world is a brighter place even so.
I mean, if you put me on a raft out in the ocean and ask me whether we should shoot and eat the Christian or the Atheist, I'm going to ask "which one of them asserts their death will result in a state of unending glory and euphoria while preserving the 'existence' of their mental state?" Because that's the one that should be killed. And these kinds of biases pile up over the long term, leaving a distinct mark of fragility and unnecessary risk on the entire culture. You have ability to choose that, but I cannot advocate that you ever should.
Secondly, it is not a historical accident that this issue has been decided by force. It is not even really true; far more violence has been carried out in the name of spreading religion than has been in the name of eliminating it. And again, this is of little relevance anyway, because the past has been more violent in general, and we have better understood and more widely available means of achieving goals through peace today than any time in human history.
See what I mean when I talk about progressivism? Heretical it may be, but the truth of God shines through nonetheless. For all the wrong reasons, from all the wrong priors - you misunderstand the nature of death and that which follows after, and the nature of life and what it means to follow Christ - yet we still come up with precisely the same answer: "This is my body, which is given for you."
I can't recommend attempting to argue against materialism per se; systems of faith are so strongly and intimately cherished that this is as much an attack as is the attempt to argue you (or me) out of Christianity. The idea is rather to believe what we believe, have the other guy believe what he believes, and manage to get along nonetheless. Our errant brothers and sisters in the "progressive" heresy have largely lost sight of this. We need not live down to their example, and we must not lose sight of the fact that they are our brothers and sisters, who have merely lost their way. Anger and opposition are easy - are we here to do easy things?
Otherwise, yeah, I don't give a hoot what you want to believe, that's your right. Just don't impose on the rest of us.
The attempt to dictate that that, and nothing else, be permissible - utterly without regard, in this nation of better than a quarter billion people, for anything so completely irrelevant to the question as whatever local opinion on the matter may happen to be - seems, if nothing else, curiously at odds with the ubiquitous contention that those who persist in the attempt wish merely that "live and let live" be the whole of the law.
That said, before I conclude here, I feel it incumbent upon me to note my appreciation for your having chosen to engage with my prior comment, rather than merely downvote it and move on. I can hardly but acknowledge that the substance of that comment is not merely heterodox in the extreme, but very likely to get right up a lot of people's noses. Such commentary invites downvotes, and those who engage in it have no excuse to find this upsetting - but I do always find it preferable when someone instead takes the time to engage, and I thank you very kindly for so doing.
The thing with what you seem to be saying (that the science camp is trying to drive religion out of schools despite their supposed adherence to "live and let live") is that public schools are a state institution, and separation of church and state is also incredibly important. You're perfectly free to set up religious schools (which exist), and also to home school your children (also common for the religious). What's explicitly not OK is trying to foist your specific religion in an institution paid for by public money. That's the entire distinction. Past that, "live and let live" is indeed the order of the day.
But then, I suppose you may view science as another religion, and I guess that's probably going to be a sticking point. I view it as mostly orthogonal except for the creationist stuff that has mountains of evidence against it, and requires rather convoluted reasoning about God putting the evidence there as a test of faith (my understanding of the reasoning, anyway)
I will, though, note that it's curious how you talk about public schools as though they were paid for with federal money - this being the usual meaning with which the phrase "public money", in this connection, is used. By the Department of Education's own accounting , the proportion of primary and secondary public school funding which originates in the federal purse is approximately eight percent.
Yet the federal regulatory apparatus insists on an approximately one hundred percent share of control over how all of these public schools, even the vast majority for which it does not pay, must operate. This is a remarkable disparity! In any other context, its mere existence, to say nothing of the desirability of its being suffered to continue, would require considerable justification. Perhaps I am a fool to wonder what makes this context so unique.
I should not like to see my own church take charge of the nation. I don't like that yours has done so, either, at least not now that I've become an apostate of it. Before that happened, I would've been fine with the idea, but, like you, failed to recognize the fact of it - not that that's any excuse.
It seems to me the playing field is being extraordinarily leveled. When I was a bagger at a grocery store, nobody looked down on me. Maybe because of my town, but I was never expected to "serve" someone's whims - I was just expected to do my job, and when I did my job people thanked me.
Now whenever I'm out and about getting a thing done, I don't think of the people "serving" me as "serving me." I'm at the mechanic's, I'm pinging him for his expert advice. I'm at the carwash place, I'm asking them if they wouldn't mind doing the interior windows for a bit extra, etc.
Maybe I just am very lucky that I never underwent the brunt of service work torture because of my town, but is it still a "thing" to be asked to do a bunch of random shit at the convenience of others? Am I just so lucky in all of my jobs that everybody is respectful of eachother an their time?
You're asking your mechanic for free advice? You're asking the carwash guys for extra services they don't advertise or normally supply?
I mean, I'm paying him to fix my car, and then I'm also having a conversation with a human being. That was the whole point. I'm negotiating with the carwash guys because they're humans - if they don't wanna do the thing, they'll tell me.
This is kind of exactly my point - I'm not treating these folks like robots whose prices are up on a board in the front of the building.
Those people can go to hell. They will never give back. They do not for one minute believe in a social contract where both people invest in the relationship. They are just using you. Doing anything for them just signals that it is okay for them to use you. This is a terrible social contract to make.
You can still do nice things for other people because it serves something you believe in. Just don't agree to be anyone's bitch, ever, for any reason.
"Oh, c'mon, Joe, don't be difficult."
"4 and 4 is 8, 11 isn't correct.
"Be reasonable here. OK, let's compromise on 9.5, OK?"
People can debate these issues, arrive at different answers, and still get along at the end of the day.
When those issues are compared to math, where one side is automatically Right and the other side is automatically Wrong and you are Unreasonable if you don't agree... not so much.
A part of being a reasonable person is recognizing this and understanding that the process you went through to arrive at the opinion you hold is not even a little bit comparable to the rigor and certainty of the answer to a child's math problem. The comparison is inherently dishonest.
I'm the technical expert wherever I work, and yes, the situation is pretty clear-cut. The abuse of the word in such clear situations is why I used an arithmetic analogy.
Therefore my opinions are correct and yours, to the extent that they differ, are wrong.
Of course, this is a lifelong and error-prone process :)
Furthermore, the notion that an acceptable remedy to the problem that a company cannot have it's shit together enough to adequately service the occasional difficulties surrounding the transactions of its products is to impose upon me has become unacceptable in my mind.
I know this is going to sound entitled but think of it this way, it is also an entitled position to assume people should be obliged to fill out forms, perform extra steps or wait in line because of a mistake a company has made.
I'm not encouraging anyone to treat people like garbage but my threshold for corporate BS has become extremely low and I ask for issue escalation pretty fast if a company isn't fixing a problem.
Always eager to please other people before I even think about how it will affect me. Would you like to work two doubles in a row and potentially go insane? Ah sure... sure I'd love to!
Hey man, I'd like to catch this bus so I don't walk 6 miles home "Oh sure but before that, can you do this one thing..." ahhhhh
What happens when you let people walk all over you. It's funny too when I observe other people say no or F-off, people remember that and don't ask them to do things... hahaha. Ah well.
Someday my balls will drop.
To them I am just an all nice fellow who is kind to everybody. I earned their gratitude but not their love and in the process I hurt people that truly care and love about me.
When did we lose the ability to have authentic relationships?
If someone needs your help and you have the capacity to help and they haven't burned you in the past, why not actually be human and help them? Perhaps one day you'll need help and they'll return the favour. If they don't without good reason, then next time say "hey, you know what, I was there when you needed help last time and when I needed help you were nowhere to be found, you flaked out on me because you didn't take my needs seriously." or whatever.
If you're hanging out with flaky people who give you bullshit excuses for not helping you out when you genuinely need help and you're not helping out when they genuinely need help then you don't have friendship, you have acquaintances.
Being a friend is being there when your friends need you and your friends being there when you need them. If one side of that relationship isn't being honoured, it's not friendship. One or the other of you is taking advantage of boundaries that aren't being enforced or respected.
Kudos to everyone for wanting more time for themselves to find value in what they do but when you get to the pinnacle of whatever it is you're doing and you realize you've cast aside your friends and relationships for whatever shiny thing it is that currently has your attention, I hope the shiny thing is more valuable to you than your friendships, because you'll have none.
Addendum: I don't want to devalue those that are selfless and just trying to scramble back a bit of time for their own selves, I get it, I'm an introvert, I need time for myself to do my own things too, but don't lose sight of the fact that human connection is where happiness and love lays. If the giving of yourself to make those you love happy isn't making you happy, then you should probably closely examine the quality of those relationships and either fix them or end them so you are.
For example, my boyfriend and I are both engineers but hes working at a place short term over the summer with a 3 hour time difference. I work 10am-4pm, he works 9am - 7pm but with a three hour time difference.
Staying up an extra hour to talk to him very night after hes done with work means going from 6.5 hours to 5.5 horus of sleep, which means I don't get up and workout, eat a good breakfast and go to work feeling refreshed.
Luckily im dating an icredible person and he understands this, and that the unideal arrangement is short term, so we found a comporimise and work around, but I did have to say no I can't vid chat tonight I'm going to bed.
Doing a favour is easy, giving up something of yours, of which time by the way is very expensive for busy people, at the expense of your own personal time (which people think is not a requirement but I know for a fact now it is, and even some of the busiest CEOs etc take a no compromise personal time out each day or each week reagrdless of how many emergency events are knocking at thier door. They do this because they know in the long run they suffer, and their company and employees suffer from bad decision making)
so anyways, at the expense of your own personal time, health, mental health other relationships or budget.
people who also have healthy priorities will know this and understand. For example, I'm dating someone who actually cares about me and WANTS me to be happy, well rested healthy and do well in my career. So its not hard for us to find compromises around times we would normally like to talk for a few months so I can still maintain my morning routine which sets the tone by my mental and body health for each day and in general my life, without being sickly sleep deprived, and he can still enjoy the work culture with his team who rolls in late and works late and enjoyed working late as a team. I want him to enjoy this experience and benefit from it and grab beers a couple times a week after work with his work buds. I want him to do well, so its easy for us to do favours for eachother because our personal lives and therefore our happiness together benefits from this. Neither of us would be happy together if we felt we were compromising our ability to be our best, especially at this juncture in our lives, young 20s making or breaking reaching our goals.
I've been in relationships with men who couldnt care less about my long term goals and would keep me up late, obligate me to do their chores and guilt trip me for not being arm candy at every fancy event they went to if it took away from my personal projects, working out, or me time, or guilt tripping me for staying late at work, not encouraging me to go get that new job because things are convenient if I'm unsuccessful and will be miserable enough to drop out of my career and have their kids one day.
You want to try to mostly limit expensive (in terms of time or sacrificing life goals or day to day health which can add up quickly whether its lack of sleep, personal you time, workout time, healthy food or skipping your mid day 10minute meditation or walk on your lunch break) to people who ask favours not too often, and you know there is a mutual benefit.
I don't mean that in selfish terms. I mean if someone continually doesn't do their job well and the favour is you continually give up your lunch break, which you barely take and cut down to a 15min walk in the sun to go over notes or fix another last minute repeated mistake from someone who feels entitled to your time or won't learn how to fish, and wants you to fish for them, then you should say no.
Another example, people have asked me "hey can you make an app for me, or go come meet me for a drink and listen to by business idea and give me your advice, feedback, business advice, network connections based on what I tell you."
Alot of times this person has not done their own due diligence, or knows I'm usually willing to help out and just wants my tech knowledge and connections. That's fine, but I find people who don't reach out with specific questions during a sepcific stage of development and won't send you an email about it, simply want you to meet up for a beer and let the fact you are in a conversation for an hour be free mentoring advice and social networking for them.
In regards to people asking about apps or websites and asking me to help them because they know im in tech but arent at all. I get how it could be confusing to get started or get help on an app if you run a non tech company, but the questions are so basic I now resort to basically asking them to google it.
Literally google it. If you have done all the work and have a question that you feel my specific experience/expertise could help you make a pivot point decision on a very developed situation where you have done your due diligence, and you want me to be a bouncing board, then go for it.
but I often find people like this are throwing a half assed or 20% thought 5% put in effort to idea/project, and they spend their time try to sell me on how I should be just as excited about it as they are, for the explicit purpose of me feeling its worth my time to jump in and offer more time and effort and help to advocate for their project, and always of course a good friend wanting to help people out, never a formal contract or consulting time.
Another example, I have a friend who owns a non tech company or not in the space of software, and they mentioned having a terrible time finding a good marketing firm to consult with and that at the end of the day they really just needed google analytics.
Through a very technical personal project, I was also using google analytics for something, and being that this group is run by a good friend of mine who genuinely is having a wreck of a time finding high quality marketing, I offered specifically to help out with their google analytics. Not anything else like graphic design, advertising, social media campaigns, just said yeh if you are so busy you don't even have 5 hours to go through google analytics analysis, and set up the filters you want and identify and prioritize some outliers who could be customers of worth, then I can atleast look at whats hit it already, put some security filters on it and give you a run down of what you have so far, and set up a few more things.
I figured 20 hours of work total over a month, and actually its very beneficial for me to get access to working with google analytics from a growing company perspective versus a personal website/project of mine for future.
All fine until I go to meet with their Director and find they have no financial, specific customer, demographic goals at all, much less for 1 month 3 month etc. So outside of setting up basic security, its very hard to utilize analytics if you don't know what youre analyzing or what your goals are, or the genre or even priority of customers since the potential customers span multiple industries all over the world.
if I offer to do analytics, I need to know what I'm analyzing. If google analytics is specifically analyzing people exposed to your company, then I need to know what youre interests are as far as people, targeted or widespread marketing, specific consumer groups, specific industries, specific locations, maybe atleast a profit or unit sales goal so then we could utilzie the hits to see who is most likely to provide that? Nothing...
So alot of people are willing to take free help, but alot of people don't know how to utilize that help to do something valuable or use it to teach themselves how to do it themselves or go find the long term help needed.
Alot of times what people are really asking just like when I've been asked to write emails is:
"Please review everything that exists currently, can be done and needs to be done, identify potential solutions, prioritize amongst existing priorities, document communicate, find the right people to do it, and of course since already noone else besides you is willing to do even this, if you want to prove your motivated, youll actually implement the solution yourself"
Thats what alot of times "favours" end up being when people say "hey, I want to go over this idea and get feedback from you" ....
You're quite right in that your time is valuable and a lot of people encroach on this time without any respect for just how valuable it is - it's the only resource we cannot renew, at least so far. So your taking the time and effort to write this instead of whatever else it is you could've been doing to further your success is evidence of how important this topic is to you as well. So thank you.
You are from the sound of things in a wonderful and respectful relationship that values your time and needs. This is worth keeping hold of; but many people have absolutely no respect for each others needs in this sense and so walk all over it with the expectation that their partner should be more selfless so they can be more selfish instead of both being selfless towards one anothers needs. Any affront to this perception is considered selfishness on your part.
"Oh you need time to yourself, I will make room and take on responsibility so that you can have that." returned by the favour of "Oh, you need some time to do X, Y or Z activity so you can be fulfilled, you know what, let me take A, B and C off your plate so that you can do that."
This is the difference between a selfless relationship and a one sided relationship where one partner is "You know what, I need this in order to feel fulfilled, so I need you to do X, Y and Z for me so that I can get that fulfilment." "What do you mean you don't have the capacity to do that? You think your time at the pub with your friends is more important than my mental wellbeing?" "Well, you want me to stop doing something that's good for my own mental wellbeing in order for you to satisfy yours."
From the sound of things, you've been on the receiving end of this too, so you understand both sides of this coin.
A balance definitely needs to be struck between the giving of yourself freely to those that are important to you and the expectation of payment in kind. Relationships are a two way street.
With regards to people who approach you for technical assistance in their projects - I've been burned a number of times: Kids with no due dilligence done expecting me to give my all for their success, right up to a sociopath who had done all her due dilligence and had used every developer she could get to do her bidding as stepping stones to her success while taking advantage, not paying them, setting lawyers on them to hand over code she'd not paid for and the whole 9 yards who approached me with a solid prototype, a solid business plan and an NDA that protected her and "a contract that's coming" but was never delivered who convinced me to work on good faith. She was a nasty piece of work. So I understand being taken advantage of and I'm wary of it having been stung for tens of thousands of dollars in payments I will never receive. Thankfully a solid understanding of the DMCA, Copyright Law and lucky timing saved me from her ever being able to publish my work, but that's another story for another time.
My point is: If your friends and business partners are taking advantage without any respect for your needs, they're not your friends. If any contract is too one sided without any consideration for your needs and there is resistance to your needs being met, they don't care about you, only themselves.
If your friendships aren't instrumental in your success and your success is where your personal fulfillment lies, then your friendships should be evaluated in such a way that they bring you that success, not stand in its way... and that's a two way street. You cannot expect your friends to be instrumental in your success without your willingness to be instrumental in theirs. You stand by them as you expect them to stand by you. If one or the other of you is not meeting this basic tenet of friendship, then you need to reevaluate that friendship.
The author here took 100% of the work and pains from those around him. The people he helped were relieved of that task but are no more prepared for it should it arise again.
Personally I do try and be accommodating to those around me; but I include them in what is being done so they can learn from it. This give them back more than just result of the task and enables them to hopefully accomplish it themselves next time.
I guess college wasn't that expensive back then (or summer jobs were paying a lot).
According to Lucian, Timon was the wealthy son of Echecratides who lavished his money on flattering friends. When his funds ran out, the friends deserted him and Timon was reduced to working in the fields. One day, he found a pot of gold and soon his fair-weather friends were back. This time, he drove them away with dirt clods. 
I'm not being facetious: Diogenes, besides being a sarcastic old codger
for which he is mostly famous, also displayed a complete lack of interest for
his own person, so not quite the blazing firebrand of, the er, enlightened
self-interest promulgated in the OP.
The arguments for yes are obvious, probably best summarized by Wallace Stevens' saying: "After the final no there comes a yes and on that yes the future of the world hangs." (had to google for the exact saying :).
Logically and intuitively speaking, the degree to which our lives work is the degree to which we keep our agreements - it is the 'yes' (action) that moves us forward, shapes us as a person, far more than the 'no' (passivity).
In an infinite world of possibilities, what should one say 'yes' or 'no' to? This brings into the picture something we all struggle with finding for the better, if not the most part of our lives - _purpose_ and _meaning_.
I've no idea where your purpose and meaning come from - I know where mine do, however, if you want to be able to quickly sift through the infinite possibilities and readily come up with a 'yes' or a 'no' for what you commit to versus what you don't, then it is imperative that you seek out your purpose in life.
Generally speaking, the purpose has to be larger than what you can accomplish on your own, sometimes it might even span your life, or multiple life spans if your purpose is worth following by others.
Another way to achieve purpose or meaning is to surrender to another person, hopefully someone better than you. No, this doesn't mean becoming a door mat - it just means becoming vulnerable and coachable toward this person, whomever that is for you - could be a spouse, a higher being, whatever....
I'm starting to like HN even more when I see posts like this make it up to the first spot.
This is (a) incredibly true (in the original sense of incredible) and (b) a difficult and painful lesson to learn.
Being the one to go to with problems means that all you will see are other's problems---no one will look for you when they succeed. Being the one who makes crap work means that you will always be making crap work.
But saying 'no' isn't the biggest part of the problem. Saying no just means you do nothing. You need to have a positive plan. Something that you want enough to push for.
More importantly, you need to push yourself forward. Brag. Sell yourself. Advertise. Mock other people to their faces, even if you know they're right and you're wrong. The world is not a kind and gentle place. It does not reward humility and the meek are not going to inherit anything.
I do it for two reasons: firstly, to be frank - I enjoy it, I enjoy the social stroking it confers. I work with clever, talented people - but they have different skill sets to me. If I can do something in 5 minutes that would take them an hour - and show them how to do it - I get a buzz and they are grateful.
Secondly, getting a reputation for people capable, people come to me with interesting problems, which increase my skill sets.
Yes, sometimes I have just too much on, and sometimes they come to me with dull stuff.
But in general, the combination, of making people happy, recognition and interesting problems makes being accommodating worth it for me.
Reading the comments was a huge mistake. It mired the previous sense of insight with contradictory perspectives supported by compelling anecdotes but, crucially, no analysis more rigorous than the original article.
Of course, you can make a compelling case for anything if you have rhetoric and evidence isn't demanded of you, but I think there's a point where analysis is of negative value.
In a way, learning this lesson has been valuable in and of itself.
People should certainly try not to be accommodating to everyone. It's something I still struggle with but no longer being a part of a start-up with unrealistic expecations has certainly toned down this significantly for me.
A little here and there can still be good, however.
The whole issue is full of gems, like this one just a few pages away: "You do not have to like a job to succeed in it!"
You mean less, right?
> "the lesson is more about ignoring what others might be doing and focusing on what you need to do for success yourself"
Agassiz refers to "Louis Agassiz" a creationist scientific racist that believed the races had been created by God in separate events. Not the best example to use.
Edit: He believed this in the late 1800 and the author of the submitted article apparently considered him a "great scientist" as late as 1922.
Eventually, the only great scientists will be ones who are still available to have their opinions policed by modern progressives.
Both things might be results of the same personality trait. On personal side, if your personal wishes are really over everything else, you are likely to go further in your personal interests - however your family will be harmed in the process. On political and pseudo scientific side, you will be attracted to more cruel self serving theories.
He believed creationism and even went so far as "creatively" interpreting religious documents to support his own biases.
All this in the late 1800s.
I'm not usually on this side of the debate but here I think it's safe to say that his non-agreeableness and personal biases led him to the wrong conclusions and that is very relevant to this submission.
The more I read about his work the more I reach the conclusion that this was a man that achieved social and academic success but was a failure as a man of science.
But look on the bright side, if a putative belief in creationism would prevent anyone from hearing about a given researcher's other & more defensible work; we would all be laughing at that silly creationist Issac Newton.
Seriously, though, you're right. One shouldn't dismiss all of people's work just because they were wrong about some things. But whether someone is a 'great scientist' is a bit unimportant in that sense.
Progressives have historically believed in government transparency, and modern ones generally support infrastructure investments, but there isn't really any social agenda. You may be thinking of liberals.
I think that's becoming less and less true. I'd say we've already reached the nadir of progressivism in the west.
No. Not at all.
But it might show that non-agreeableness might have some downsides.
I wonder what the fine line is between being a mensch like Shep Gordon, with the kind of legend and grandeur that comes with such a title, and being an over-accommodating person to a pathetic degree, as described in the article.
It's tough to describe, but somehow a mensch has all the traits of an over-accommodating person without the sign on their back that says "use me."
It's a simple supply and demand rule. Everything offered in abundance loses its value. What are you offering? Your time, your resources, your care, your attention.
To people realize your valor, offer less, invest less. Give them space to miss you and run after you.
We do not respect or admire worthless things.
Well, the age of the document is showing.
"You're 38, half your life is behind you already"
No to new features, to partnerships, to things that lose focus from the core mission.
Especially when both parties enjoy some sort of prior established trust (long friends or acquaintances), it's even easier to use money even if it won't compensate for a comparable market rate service.
E.g. "Would you mind helping me with X, Y or Z and I'll buy you lunch(es)?"
I've seen two cultures:
- In one it works the way you describe it and it's considered odd if the favour were not 'compensated' in some way
- In another, the question of 'compensation' of a favour is an insult and seen as a statement of no investment in the relationsip
When people from one culture go to the other, it's bound to cause discomfort. I've experienced this and also seen it happen to others.
Obviously the hypocrisy came to light a long time ago, but I still see this in myself and often amongst women in the workplace.
We are asked to do more public speaking on behalf of our company. The intentions are good, and I want more women in technology so I'm happy to be a role model though I'm far from perfect, but I won't let it take me away from my job and I've turned down being a public speaker.
I've turned down running a SWE "Society of Women Engineers" Chapter at work.
I turn down running social events on behalf of the company.
My favorite two I've learned to say no to are
"Well I never learned how to write well and you take really good notes, so can you document this meeting and send a summary email out to everyone with the conversation, highlights, and action items"
I'm not a secretary, I'm an engineer, and if you have a PhD from MIT and never learned how to write, and in fact its so difficult you can't take meeting notes or you need meeting notes because you can't remember the takeaway items, then thats your problem/opportunity for growth, not a place where I turn into a secretary.
if I'm going to be writing priorities, deciding what the priorities are based on the conversation, documenting them and communicating them and following up for troubleshooting follow through, then make me your Manager.
The other one is "yeh well this is really complicated. It's kind of a mess. Noones looked at this process in a long time, lots of old documentation. Would be really great if someone could come in a organize all this for us..."
That's the part where I'm supposed to enthusiastically volunteer to reorganize the half assed work of people who never understood APIs, who additionally still work at this company and have not fixed it, who are ok with half assed work, and people who will make condescending comments about the lack of ability to pick up quickly on things as I'm rewriting the mess of documentation left behind.
I used to feel obligated to all of those things. I don't. It's really too easy for people to expect women to come in at tech companies and
1. Be a part time poster child for women in tech including but not limited to taking time away from the team to go to public speaking events and organize work events.
2. Spend your time documenting things that nooone has bothered documenting before
3. Be expected to "show enthusiasm" and "contribute" by basically cleaning out the closet of men who havn't opened the drawer to realize how disorganized things are until they have a new person trying to learn under them.
I don't do any of these things anymore, and I make it clear I am not interested in those things when I am asked. I spend time learning technical work, and continually filter my tasks of extraneous things that are not focused on addressing the core issues of my work.
Your job is to do your job and be good at it, and you will naturally be accomodating by the benefits that brings.
On a personal level,
I've learned the same thing. huge guilt trips from men to hang out and call me a bitch for basically having standards, being an introvert, and not making dating my hobby outside of work. It's expected of me actually still even in tech.
Huge guilt trips from girls who expect me to be an extrovert, or take it personally that I dont want to be constantly social or go shopping or talk about boys with them, again, even in tech.
Women have a lot of pressure to be socially accomodating, and people will have subconscious expectations of you to do be that way inside and outside of work, and not realize how entitled they actually feel in regards to having a say in your own personal life decisions.
I'm 26 now, but I really wish another women would have given me this advice at 20.
Learn to say no. Focus on you and your job. You accomodate so many people when you take care of yourself and are good at your job and genuinely contribute.
No. A man’s chief loyalty must be to himself. This guy didn't take the lesson to its final conclusion.