Everybody wants to be liked. Of course, they do. Even the people who puff out their chest and claim they don’t care what other people think would prefer to be liked than disliked. This is a natural compulsion and it makes sense. After all, life is always easier when dealing with people who like you than the opposite. But the big problem is that you can’t please everyone. No matter what you do, there’ll always be someone in the equation displeased with what you say, do or think. Trust, I know. I used to be one of the people who tried to please everyone…
Although the average person tends NOT to think so, complaining about the negative always seems to be easier than simply appreciating the positive. If people could simply be happy with what/who they have, the world would likely be a more peaceful place. And if you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of keen on the whole peace thing. I used to try and accomplish this by doing exactly what was described above: trying to please everybody.
I can remember some specific circumstances of when I’ve done this. I remember the one time where I attended a party with a handful of people. (I know, right? We actually used to do things like gathering in groups and the police WOULDN’T show up) Anyway, I lost a bet and it fell on me to buy the “adult beverages” for the evening. Beer. I had to buy the beer. There were only a handful of us and we had a bit of an organized game night happening… D&D. We were going to be playing D&D.
So, I accepted my loss and graciously purchased a case of beer, which would provide each of us with a couple of drinks. This was more than adequate for our early 20’s metabolisms and we needed to keep our heads clear for the game, anyway. Out of the friends who were there, there was ONE guy who decided he was unhappy with the brand of beer I purchased. Now, I know what you’re thinking: the guy should have been reasonable and appreciated the drinks he was getting for free, regardless of the brand. That should have the way of it.
Instead, this guy indicated that he doesn’t drink the brand of beer I brought and wouldn’t be drinking it. Some of the others indicated their disapproval of this opinion, especially since it was brought for him and it was free (albeit through the loss of a bet). But as the game started, the guy actually pouted a bit and would glare at me regularly. I should probably point out that I was the storyteller, what’s referred to as a Dungeon Master in D&D circles. But I’ll stop firmly establishing my throne in nerdom and point out that it was ridiculously childish and distracting while I was trying to focus.
So, what did I do? Did I tell him to suck it up? Did I tell him to stop being petty and have a couple of drinks, since they were provided for him at no cost? Did I have enough of his petulance and kick him out of the game. No. No, I didn’t. I put the game on hold, asked him what brand of beer was his favourite and actually went to the corner to grab him a 6-pack of his own. I brought it back, he smiled and grabbed a bottle and we got on with our game. I’d like to say that it was because I just wanted to shut him up, but back then I genuinely just wanted to please most people.
Should I have done this? In retrospect, I shouldn’t have. All I accomplished was showing this guy that complaining and pouting about something would eventually get him his way. If I’d been smart, I would have put my foot down so that the rest of us could enjoy our game. The debt incurred by the bet had been repaid and there were bigger fish to fry. All I really accomplished that night was putting myself out further than I should have. Sure, all the guys got what they wanted that night so I guess that in a way I “pleased” everyone, but at what cost.
I recently read somewhere that “You can lie down for people to walk on you and they will still complain that you’re not flat enough. Live your life.” An that’s quite true. It’s always a beautiful thing when you can get along with everyone, but it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll ever be able to please everyone. If you make a meal, there’ll always be an aspect of the meal that someone at the table won’t like. The important thing to remember is the effort you’ve put into the things you do. If there are some who don’t like it or aren’t please with you, so be it. You can’t base your life on whether or not you’ve pleased everyone. ☯