A couple of days ago I held a door at work open for someone who was pushing a cart full of computer equipment. As I held the door, he gave a broad smile, walked through, and didn’t say, “Thank you”. That kind of bothered me.
In my mind, I immediately had thoughts of:
- Giving a sarcastic “You’re welcome”
- How I should have let him get the door himself
- How he must obviously be a self-centered jerk
Pretty petty, huh?
It was amazing how fast these thoughts flooded my mind. Perhaps that says more about me and areas I need to work on than it does about him.
About 10 minutes later I saw the same guy pushing the cart heading my way. As we got close enough to make eye contact, he gave me a big, kind smile, as if to say, “I remember you and what you did for me a few minutes ago!” I smiled and nodded. I now felt like it was me who was the jerk.
As I thought back on our earlier encounter at the door, I realized that my negative thoughts toward him arose because he hadn’t responded the way I thought he should have in that specific situation. I felt a verbal, “Thank you” was in order, so that’s what I expected. However, his, “Thank you”, came in the form of a broad smile. My negative reaction and thoughts were totally unwarranted and robbed me of several minutes of joy I could have otherwise been experiencing.
It was a clear reminder that the world does not operate according to my interpretation of how things should be done. Also, it made me check my motives. Was I holding the door open to receive praise and thanks, as I saw fit, or was I don’t it because it was the kind, honoring thing to do for a fellow human being, regardless of whether I received a positive response?
When we get frustrated because people don’t respond to something exactly as we would like them to, we are setting ourselves up to potentially damage relationships. Instead of realizing the uniqueness of others and allowing them to express their uniqueness, we box them into our own expectations.
I know I wouldn’t appreciate others boxing me in like that, so what gives me the right to do that to others? The answer… is “nothing”.
Let’s work at dropping our senseless expectations that everyone should and respond the way we think they should. Let’s instead start appreciating the uniqueness of others and allowing them to express it. Because, wouldn’t we all like the seam kindness shown to us