One friend i was talking to quipped how in Singapore lots of people just promise the world and no one has the heart to say ‘no’. As a result when bosses say ‘yes’ to everything that the client asks for or doctors just give their patients whatever they want, we have an enormous build up of unnecessary work and a growing resentment among rational folk that there’s no way to say ‘no’ to the never ending flow of demands that we face at work.
I think the answer is simple. No one ones to be the bad guy.
I’ve done it before. A friend might ask me if i’d like to go see a movie, one which i think stinks. Because he’s my friend i don’t want to appear to be a wet blanket (i’m probably one of the few people who he’s thinking of inviting) so i stall. I make up a million excuses like i’ll have to check my schedule, i’ll have to do this or that. Ultimately i just don’t want to do it. But i feel trapped…
If i say no, he’ll be upset and possibly betrayed. What about all the times he’s accompanied me to do stuff that he didn’t want to do without complaining?
If i say yes, i’m stuck with doing something i don’t really want to do and have to keep all my frustrations and unhappiness inside. Worst I have to deal with the regret that if i’d only shown my guts i could have gotten out of this situation in the first place.
Somewhere along the way one side or other has to give.
Bosses can’t keep promising to meet unrealistic deadlines at the expense of their employees. Patients can’t always expect to have all of their demands for drugs and wonder-cures met by their doctor. And i can’t always be there for family and friends whenever they want me to be.
Maybe it’s time to be the bad guy for a change. Say things, even unpleasant things straight in the face of those who don’t listen and don’t even try to understand. Coz they don’t care about me, so why should i care about their feelings either?
However i do understand and am aware of some of the reasons for doing so. That’s how business is done; you scratch my back i’ll scratch yours. Going the extra mile for a client might mean they let you make a few mistakes as well whilst closing an eye. And who doesn’t mind going the extra mile for a friend once in a while? Afterall they’d do the same for you in the blink of an eye.
What i’m riled up about is not being able to say no even if you really really don’t want to do something. It’s the feeling of being trapped in a situation without even a way out.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, I wish people could just be honest without the fear of being perceived as selfish or being judged. If i had to do something for a friend i didn’t like i’d like the freedom to tell them i don’t really want to do it but i’m doing it because it’s them and I appreciate the friendship more than my personal comfort. In response they might be upset a little but it would be great if they could be mature and not feel upset that the person doesn’t really want to do what they want them to do.
Ok, in reality I don’t want to have to become the bad guy and put on a forceful and unpleasant persona just so that i don’t get taken advantage of. Why can’t the world just be a better place? Ok, i know the answer to that already so don’t answer.
In an ideal situation, clients wouldn’t expect the world of those serving them. They’d be gracious and understand when mistakes are made and deadlines missed. On the other side those doing the serving would be able to be more open and say their minds without fear of any repercussions on their honesty. They would then serve more gratefully and whole heartedly knowing that they’re not a door mat just waiting to be trampled over.
I don’t know if this is all possible or just a terribly vapid pipe-dream?
Only time will tell. And only God can change hearts and overcome obstacles long put in place by culture and social-norms. So in either case, it’s totally out of my hands… better get the matter out of my heart as well.
The world has enough bad guys, it doesn’t need another one.