Let’s say that you’re a server at a restaurant. You love your job and enjoy serving others. The cooks prepare the food and let you know it’s ready. You pick it up and bring it outside to the customers. Now, they’re a little edgy because they’ve had to wait for a little while for their food. But you’re a people person. You’ll come out with an apology and you’ll even be prepared to offer them something free for that visit or their next one.
However, you get a few steps from the table before you trip and fall. Food and drinks are everywhere. You’ve spilled some on other customers who were either in the process of enjoying their meal, or they were in the same boat as your customers as they’ve been waiting for their food for a long time as well. You look up at your own customers and they sigh and roll their eyes before they get up and leave the restaurant.
How would something like that make you feel?
As the server and a very pleasant one, you had the very best of intentions. However, do you think your customers walking out had that in mind? They likely did not. All they knew is that they had been waiting forever because YOU didn’t get their food out quickly enough and then you had the audacity to trip and fall, spilling it everywhere. Shame on you. To hell with your “good intentions.”
Speaking of hell and good intentions, one of my favorite expressions is just that: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Personally, this is one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to deal with. When my good intentions aren’t received well, it’s such a confusing and sometimes depressing thing to experience.
When you are wrong, that’s easy. If you’re mature enough, that is. When you do something wrong, it usually doesn’t take too much to figure that out and again, if you’re mature enough, you already know what to do. You apologize for it. Or at least you know that an apology is normally what goes there, even if you don’t actually want to give one yourself.
However, when you do something nice for someone or say something kind and they get angry with you…how are you supposed to handle that? Sure, you can apologize, but when your intentions were good, it’s a lot tougher to know what you should be sorry for or even how to begin to fix it.
A friend told me yesterday that some things I wrote in one of my blog posts (that has since been taken down) that could potentially be offensive to someone I’m a very big fan of and have a tremendous amount of respect for. Of course, my intentions were very good, as my friend also realized. However, he suggested that this other person or those close to her may not take my words in the same manner, so I probably should take down the post. I didn’t hesitate to do so.
The reason I didn’t hesitate to take down the post is because I realized that if one person could take it the wrong way, then anyone could. And as I said to my friend, the absolutely last thing I would EVER want is for this person I respect to take something in manner in which it was NOT intended. Even with the best of intentions, I would never want to offend this person in any way. I would be absolutely crushed.
One thing I think we need to remember about having good intentions is that it’s often not about our intentions, but how it’s received. That’s tough, but that’s just the way it is sometimes. The best thing I suggest is that we try our best to look at things from the perspective of the other person.
Again, it’s a little easier when you do or say something wrong. It’s a little simpler (again, with the maturity) to see what went wrong and to know how to begin fixing it. The other person’s perspective is also easier to see. You’ve hurt or offended them in some way. But when you honestly did not mean to hurt or offend them and they take it that way, it’s a little more difficult to understand exactly where you went wrong.
These days, though, it seems people get so angry about offending other people. Well, this blog post isn’t for you. If you get bent out of shape at the mere thought of someone being offended by something, this isn’t about you. I’m talking about those of you who actually DO care about offending or hurting other people.
And don’t get me wrong; it’s not necessary to always be concerned about not hurting someone’s feelings. That’s not always for you to decide and depending on the circumstances, it won’t be worth it anyway. I’m not in any way saying this as to mean that you need to always beat around the bush or censor everything that comes out of your mouth.
However, in the event that you really do care about offending or hurting someone, especially a person you greatly admire and respect, it can be very tough to know when your good intentions may not lead to good results. When all else fails, just get the perspective of another person as I was able to.
Yes, it could be unnecessary, or maybe even a little paranoid. But it’s like I said above: If one person could take it the wrong way, then anyone could. The person I’m referring to is someone I have never met but would like to one day. For her to misread something I’ve written or said in a negative way means that I will absolutely and positively NOT get another chance. I am very certain of this. So I am not about to jeopardize that.
Good intentions may sometimes lead to not so good circumstances. Just be mindful and keep the other person in mind. Even if it means you may have to put your “good intentions” on hold temporarily. Depending on who the person is, it may very well be worth it.
Thanks for reading.