Give people what they want, not what you think they would want.
Some months ago my sister Lu See called me to ask if I wanted a new bottle.
‘There’s a promotion now. We can get two bottles for RM34.’
‘Sure,’ I said, ‘There are already moulds growing in my old one!’
She came home with two bottles – one pastel green and one bright purple.
‘Which one do you want Lu Wee?’
The purple one, I thought. It was just the right bright purple. But then I thought, what if Lu See wants the purple one too?
So I asked her, ‘Which one do you want?’
‘I’m fine with either one.’
Though so, I was convinced she wanted the purple one.
‘Why don’t you take the purple one? I’ll take the green one.’
I thought I was being kind by giving Lu See what I wanted for myself.
I was wrong.
Lu See wanted the green bottle.
But just like me, she gave me the one she liked most, thinking that I liked it as much as she did.
So in a strange and funny way, we both gave away what we loved most to someone who wouldn’t appreciate it as much as we did.
Isn’t life funny like this?
Parents make sacrifices for their children thinking that their children will appreciate the things they give them. They leave their children at home to make money outside so they can buy things they think will make their children happy.
They take away time with their children and exchange it for material things they lacked as children.
Private school, expensive toys, a guarded home….
… when all children want and need is love and affection.
The saddest thing is that
when the sacrifice becomes too big, then so do the grudges.
‘Ungrateful children, you don’t know how hard I work to put food on the table.’
‘You shouldn’t complain. I didn’t have all of this when I was a kid!’
‘Why don’t you work harder in school? If I had all the luxuries you have today, I would have worked really hard in school!’
But they never asked for this. Maybe this isn’t what they really want.
But it’s not only children we do it to
We do it to our friends, our family and our co-workers.
Just because we’ve worked hard to make it possible to have something we’ve always wanted, we think they are ungrateful when they don’t appreciate it.
‘I’m working extra hours so we can move to a more expensive apartment,’ one spouse may think. ‘I’ll put up with not seeing him as often nowadays because he wants more money,’ thinks the other spouse.
Gary Chapman called this The Five Love Languages
The Five Love Languages is about giving people what they want, not what we want.
Gifts, quality time, acts of service, words of appreciation, physical touch.
What do you want?
What do your kids want?
What do your friends want?
What does your SO want?
Are they the same? Or are they different?
Giving people what they want will make them happy and fulfilled. Giving people what you think they should want will make both of you unhappy.