Today’s writing prompt “What do people thank you for?” is not an easy one for me. I might have problems to accept people’s gratitude at times, which goes along with replies like “No worries”, “Oh it was nothing” etc. Instead of saying that I was happy to help and actually did put some effort into it. Maybe it has something to do with my own problems to accept extraordinary help of others. There is this compulsion to always keep a clean slate with other people. When you received help, give at least the same amount back.
While in general this rule is honorable, a strict appliance could possibly lead to social problems. Think about it, not everyone can give more than they are receiving. If there are people who actually give more, there have to be also people who receive more help than they can give at the given time. Should they feel bad about themselves that they have to rely on their friends help for some time? Should they turn down any help in the first place in order to not defy the rule of giving more than we take. I believe the answer to both question should be a definite NO. But too often I find myself turning down help in order to not feel uncomfortable about the imbalance on the help-sheet with a friend or colleague. Lately, I am trying to monitor these situation and except help more willingly and maybe make the other person feel good about being able to help. The easiest measure is probably given when lending people money. I often forget about lending money to people, but if I owe someone, it comes to mind all the time. Sounds familiar? We want to keep a positive balance! Of course, for example always accepting free drinks but never throw a round yourself is not very nice. But I believe that sometimes we would not be worse of, if we stopped worrying about balances and started helping each others out without social pressures.
So what do people actually thank me for? As with the money I lend to people, I also tend to see my own giving as less important than my taking. But I think people most often thank me for simple deeds, holding up the elevator, stuff like that. I guess these situations happen most often and is also very easy to accept this help. Apart from that, I like explaining things and think that people appreciate me taking the time to listen to their problems and trying to solve them by making them my own. I hate to be forced to say things like “Oh sorry, I do not know anything about that”. Thinking about the problem and offering advice is way more fun. But at least sometimes people would be better off seeking someone who can be really helpful than wasting time listening to what I work out in my head. A good solution could be to tell people upfront that you have no idea but would be happy to figure it out together. More often than not we don’t have to be experts to be of actual help, like Watson becomes essential for Sherlock Holmes for solving the crimes without him being an expert about the detective work.