Considerate: careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others
I am considerate, probably to a fault, in most situations. It’s how I was brought up, instinctual at this point. It isn’t something I have to remind myself to be or do:
- Whenever I’m passing through a doorway, I let the other person go first. And on the way out, I turn around to verify there’s no one else before I let go of the door. Who just walks through a door and assumes the next person will catch it? If you don’t, you’re rude.
- I always say hello and goodbye when greeting someone. It’s not just the right thing to do, it sets the tone. If you ignore someone, (s)he may get defensive. If you forget, (s)he may think less of you. Why not use a couple of words to make it brighter?
- Toilet seat always gets put back down.
- I serve someone else before I serve myself.
My momma taught me the right way of doing things. And no, I’m not from the South. Born in Florida, but most folks tell me that doesn’t count.
But it goes beyond the “trivial” things I’ve noted above. I think about how my actions will impact someone else. It doesn’t mean I always choose the right thing, but I definitely make a conscious choice to do the wrong thing rather than it just happening without my oversight and/or control. I always know it’s wrong. Not like something happens and I respond, “oh, I didn’t know that would hurt you.”
It’s important to think about others and not just your own needs, wants and desires. I’m by no means a “goody two-shoes” – sidebar, where did that term come from? Someone please tell me so I don’t have to look it up myself – but I’m definitely only one step removed from that wonderful little shine.
It takes effort for me not to be considerate. I find it hard to believe someone is born or taught to be inconsiderate. Maybe if someone took advantage of you once too often, you might become less than considerate as your general approach. I suppose I could understand that type of learned behavior, but if I realized that about myself, I’d make an effort to course correct it somehow. Not everyone is that lucky though, and I realize so.
People do take advantage of others. Letting someone else keep paying for things. Doing less than your fair share of the effort or work. I couldn’t do that without thinking poorly of myself. I start out with every relationship is 50/50, whether it’s a boss/employee, family, friend or spouse/partner. When you cook, I clean the dishes. When you do the laundry, I fold it. When I repair something, I expect you to clean up the leftover mess.
That said, balance moves from time to time. When one person is super busy, the other can pick up the slack. These are things that should just be normal, natural, you know, consideration being given and applied.
When is it acceptable NOT to be considerate? Ah, tough question. What if someone else doesn’t do their fair share of work, can you really just leave the dishes sitting there for them to do when you know they have to get up early? Do you perhaps be less than honest or lie if someone has a habit of asking too many favors and never returning them? This is probably where I can be less than considerate. I have a bit of a policy such that when you do something hurtful or neglectful or thoughtless to me, I have been known to consider behaving in the same manner. Not always. And not after just one instance. But when I feel like I’m doing more of the work or putting in more of the effort, then I will eventually pull away and let you suffer on your own – assuming it’s not something serious.
Is that the right response? Should we always live that golden rule and not retaliate? It depends… some people learn by observation, some by action and impact. If you’ve told someone what they’re doing is inconsiderate, and they still do it, do you really, really, really have to do the right thing? Whether it’s the right response or not, I tend to think it’s fair to stop doing the right thing for that person on a go-forward basis.
I was tempted to start chatting a bit about phone, email and text message etiquette and consideration, but I think I’ll save that for another whole sub-topic under communication. After all, it’s only fair and considerate that I keep each post focused and of proper length, right?
And in honor of being a good considerate chum, if there’s a characteristic you think I should talk about, please ping me! It’s not only about what I think. 😊