Tomorrow, one of the ladies that I work with is going on a cruise for her birthday (I think). She will be gone until Tuesday. My birthday is Friday. I put in for it before I worked in this department, so I was able to still get the day off. Since a few of my co-workers and I work together, we have to coordinate our schedules for things like days off, doctor’s appointments, and etc. so that there is always adequate coverage. This was a hard transition for me to make because I worked on a team of one for nearly three years. The same can be said of learning to be considerate in a relationship.
I’ve always been an “independent” person. Not an “independent woman,” mind you. I didn’t burn bras or speak out against gender roles and patriarchy; I just did things on my own. I talked about how I celebrated Valentine’s Days by myself. I also took myself to the movies, ate out by myself, and stayed in by myself. I went to boarding school in my teens. I jobs in my early teens. I went to church by myself starting at age 11. I was more than capable of keeping up with myself and deciding things for myself early on.
What I wasn’t proficient in was the art of maintaining relationships. I didn’t understand saying things to make people feel better; I liked to tell the truth as I saw it or not say anything. I didn’t understand why people would ask me my opinion if they didn’t really want it. I never have acquired the social grace of being able to tell someone what they want to hear. Even though I am still deficient in some aspects of human relationships, one aspect I have learned about extensively is consideration.
What does it mean to be considerate? According to Merriam-Webster, to be considerate means to be thoughtful of the rights and feelings of others. For example, if you are going to be late, you should think about how the person waiting for you would feel. Would they be worried about you? Calling them to let them know you are running late so they aren’t worried about you is being considerate. Sometimes not saying something is being considerate. You may think someone is fat, ugly, etc., but if it’s not a health concern and it would only hurt their feelings and not help them, why say it?
To consider is to think about carefully, to take contributing factors into account, to think of in regards to taking some action. Being considerate of someone involves knowing them well enough to factor in things specific to them in how you treat them. It requires that you think before you act or speak when you really just want to say or do some things. It means putting aside the “I’m grown; I can do what I want” attitude we can sometimes acquire when we are adult but not mature. It requires that we reign in and take control over our tongue and not to let everyone have a piece of our minds.
I’ve known a lot of people through the years who I feel have no consideration. They say things, in their mind, merely to show a distinction between them and someone else, but I can see they are using what they see as a deficiency in someone else to elevate themselves. I’ve known many of people who are just “keeping it real” but are hurting those around them and losing friends because they don’t consider people’s feelings and rights before they say and do things that affect those relationships. If they ask me, I try to help them realize that considering other people’s feelings and rights is not the same as being fake. I try not to take it personally when people aren’t considerate of me. But as I prepare to enter my 27th (o_O) year, I find myself less and less able to maintain those “relationships.”
In the last few years of life, I’ve learned it’s OK to let some people leave your life if they don’t fit into it. Every relationship is not a teachable moment. I believe strongly in teaching people how to treat you. However, if the person disrespects you or treats you in an inappropriate manner and you continue to work with them, at some point you are teaching them you can be disrespected. Sometimes, you have to consider yourself and sever the relationship.
I’m not one to make grand pronouncements about cutting people out of my life; in fact, I make fun of those people in my tweets and facebook statuses/notes. If you have decided to do something, you should just do it. This isn’t my “break up letter” to anyone, but a reminder to myself that to consider doesn’t necessarily mean to keep…and maybe an encouragement to others to let go of some toxic relationships.
Do you consider yourself to be considerate? How do you deal with inconsiderate people? How do you end toxic relationships? Feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.