This weekend I was talking with one of my best friends about how it’s a good deed to give someone the opportunity to do a good deed. Then, synchronicitously, I came back to this Gretchen Rubin post in which she explains that “by being specific about our desires, we let other people enjoy the pleasure of giving.” So it kept me thinking about it.
It’s bigger than what she was describing, though. It has three parts.
First – what she said. If I tell you what I want, you can have more fun when you want to do something for me, because you know it will be just what I want. If you know I want a PB&J, you won’t waste any time worrying whether I might prefer a ham sandwich.
Second – if I tell you what I want, it gives you the opportunity to do something kind when it might not have occurred to you otherwise. If you don’t know I’m hungry, why would you feed me?
Third – if I tell you what I want, we can have a much better discussion than if we do one of those horrible “I don’t care, whatever you want” “Well, I don’t care, whatever you want” dances.
Demurring choice isn’t being polite; it’s crap. If you were alone, you’d pick somewhere to go, something to eat, some movie to watch. You would be capable of having an opinion. All refusing to offer your opinion does is tell the other person that you don’t think the choice is worth participating in. Not very nice.
Of course, there are right ways and wrong ways to offer your opinion. You don’t force your opinion, you don’t shout people down. But if someone genuinely wants it, why keep it from them?