8.10.14 Asked vs. Told


There is a big difference between being asked to do something, and being told to do something.  If you don’t believe me, just ask my husband.  Recently, he unwisely “told” me to do something, and I’m pretty sure he saw blue fire flash through my eyes before he backpedaled sheepishly and grinned, changing his declarative statement into an interrogative instead.  Good choice.  The thing is, I don’t mind doing what someone “asks” … not at all, but being told yeah, that’s not going to fly.  Growing up I was a lot like Ray Harryhausen who said, “I was never restricted.  I was never told what to do.”  Now, I might have been reminded what not to do, but my parents didn’t have to lay down the proverbial law too often.  I was, and am, a very goody-two-shoes type, but apparently those two shoes have some great heels, because I’m pretty good at digging them in when I feel strongly about something, and people making themselves authoritative over others doesn’t tend to sit well with me.  

Although bosses might need to take the reigns a little more seriously, I still believe that the best administrators are those that facilitate and delegate rather than demand.  From what I have experienced of life, people are a great deal more likely to do what you’d like them to do when you treat them with respect as an equal, as opposed to a subordinate.  According to Nathaniel Brandon, “There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.” 


Sadly enough, I’m sure you’ve noticed the trend in the social dynamic hierarchy that “nice guys finish last.”  This might be true (in fact I’m pretty sure it is usually true) but that doesn’t mean it should be.  Sometimes I’ve been disheartened when I noticed that “not-so-nice” people seem to get more respect from the higher-ups than the kind folks do.  Let me tell you something, this has never stopped me from being kind.  I’ll forever be inspired by the comment of a co-worker who said that someone told her I was “too nice” to teach middle school.  They apparently said they thought I’d get, “eaten alive.”  Then my co-worker (who has known me awhile) was happily able to report, “But she isn’t.  They trust her.”  I may not be a traditional teacher, because I have no walls.  I may not be a conventional mother, because I match high expectations with equally high doses of pretend.  I may not be a normal thirty-one-year-old, because I absolutely refuse to give up on my ideals that things CAN BE MORE ideal.  And it starts with earning the trust of others, by asking them into your life, without telling them how to do it. 


I NEED to remind everyone that I am NOT perfect in this battle of asking not telling.  And my husband, God bless him for his patience, knows that I falter most with him.  Why is it that those we love sometimes get the brunt of our “ugliest-selves?”   Still, I hope he, and everyone I’ve messed up with knows that I am trying.  I do believe in honoring our equality, and the fact that for some cosmic reason beyond my mortal understanding we were put on this Earth at this place and time together.  When I think like that, I don’t know how anyone could forget that they are only as important as every other person planned to share space on this string in time.  I am going to leave you with a quote; it isn’t mine, but I have it hanging in my house to remind me what matters most.  Mother Theresa, in her divinely-inspired wisdom once said:  

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

Thanks for following me, even though I’d never “tell” you to! 




2 thoughts on “8.10.14 Asked vs. Told

  1. I have this same problem too! No matter how hard you try not to “be bossy” sometimes a request just pops out of your mouth. I enjoyed Mother Theresa’s quote. If we could all follow just a piece of her life, the world would be a much better place to live!

  2. To be KIND, such a small and gentle phrase, yet when used to encourage another, this little phrase can enable one the power to move mountains. Thanks for soft reminders of how to live well, Elle. We need them. I am sure Mother Teresa is smiling down on you saying, “Thanks for reminding people of what really matters!”

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