Other people’s feelings – do they matter?



I ordered a hot chocolate, sat down to drink to drink it, to find it wasn’t hot at all; maybe lukewarm at a push. I thought it might have been the frothy top getting in the way, so I had another sip – it still wasn’t any warmer.

As I put the mug back down on the table I knew I had a decision to make. Do I endure the room temperature chocolaty drink or do I make a friendly complaint? Do I speak up about my unpleasant experience or do I stay quiet?

These kinds of questions may come up in your life too, and not just about your satisfaction with your drink order. What stops up speaking up for ourselves?

After my second sip, I really wasn’t happy. As I contemplated taking it back, a few thoughts came to mind…..

What will they think of me? “…hasn’t he got high standards for his hot chocolate..!”
How do I feel when I inconvenience her? “…she’s probably got other customers to serve, I don’t want to be a pain…”
I picked up my drink and wandered over towards the bar. With a gentle smile, I said “I’m really sorry, but the hot chocolate isn’t very hot…it’s barely warm….”

“Oh I’m sorry about that, let me make you another one.”

Of course, she apologised and happily made me another drink. We both joked about “hot” being a fairly important ingredient in a hot chocolate.

Within a few minutes, a had a new hot drink and I was happy at last.

What might this have to do with you? And what does this have to do with how we deal with challenges in our lives?

Sometimes, we can care so much about what other people think of us that we forget to put ourselves first, I know I struggle with this (as shown in this little example).

It comes from a place of wanting to be a nice person and not inconveniencing other people, but if, in doing so, we neglect our own happiness, there’s a problem.

Being nice and kind to others, shouldn’t contradict our own needs.

If we explain things to people in the right way, there’s a way for us all to be happy.

In this story, I guess the bar lady wants me to be a happy customer and in turn, I want to be a happy customer too. Whilst initially I felt like avoiding the situation would be better for both of us – deep down, happiness is about the truth.

If she doesn’t know, she can’t do anything to ensure I’m happy. And if I don’t speak up, all I get to do is put on a brave face.

So the moral of this hot chocolaty story….next time you are in a situation where you need to speak up, to your partner, a colleague or someone in your coffee shop – do it because you matter. And do it because, in the end, the right thing is usually honesty.

Other people’s feeling do matter and so do our own.

Let’s focus on long-term relationships, not just on immediate worries.

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