Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 9, 2011 / 5 Iyar, 5771

Confusing Kindness with Weakness

By Alan Douglas




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | We try to do the right thing. We offer, we help, we give, and it all seems to be in vain or misunderstood. We over extend ourselves and open ourselves up to others trying to be "good" people. Napoleon counseled, "The best way to keep your word is not to give it." But no matter how cautious we are, eventually we all feel betrayed or deceived. We go out of way to do something extra for someone and they turn around and use it against us. Your neighbor borrows a hammer, and they don't return it. You overlook it when someone in the office comes in late a few times, and then they make it a habit. After all, you let them do it. Acts of kindness can put us at risk. Author Clare Booth Luce complained that, "No good deed goes unpunished."

What is so galling is the offender's response. They misinterpret deeds. If you are attempting to act in a civil manner you have to be on guard. Are we saints or sinners? Who is the victim? Stop and think where your kindness stems "twisted analysis" and it is used as a weapon against you.

Waiver is a real ploy and a problem. Under English common law there is the doctrine known as "waiver." Imagine you rent out a house and sign a lease with the tenant. The lease clearly says the rent will be due by the first of each month. The tenant starts paying the rent a little bit later each month until it becomes a habit to pay on the fifth of each month. And then it gets a little bit later each month until the tenant regularly starts paying at the tenth of the month. And then the tenant starts paying a little bit later. You had enough of this foolishness. No more Mister or Ms. Nice Guy. You put foot down and demand they pay on time from now on. The tenant cries, "Foul" claiming that you are changing the rules of the game. From where you sit, it was the tenant who changed the rules and benefited from it. No matter. When it comes to your legal rights; the law says," If you don't use it, you can lose it." By letting them get away with paying late, you sent out a signal approving their conduct. You didn't object or squawk, so they can reasonably conclude that paying on the fifth of the month was okay. And now, you can't go back to demanding they pay the first of the month. To guard against waiving your rights, you have to exercise or protect them timely.

The second ploy is where you find yourself accused of sending "mixed messages." The failure of two parties to communicate effectively can be a real problem. It is also an excuse. When parties do not communicate effectively, it can cause legal problems. But when it leads to one party enjoying it and the other one suffering, you should smell a rat. When someone conveniently uses the misunderstanding as a means of providing an unearned windfall for them, the resulting damage to you is what it is about. Don't accept all the guilt when two people reasonably fail to communicate, especially not when one of those people is really happy to be getting a sweet deal out of it.

Finally, beware of the "test." Small children, dogs, and belligerent nations are always "testing" just far you will allow them go. They probe to define the limits you set and the consequences for violating those boundaries. Some relationships exhibit the same dynamics. These probes are often masked under misunderstanding, miscommunication, or confusion. But mainly, the person says they are NBD, "no big deal." Don't fall for it.

What they do or ask is "Nothing really," while your objection is considered surprisingly unreasonable. When Germany asked if they could send troops through Belgium to save a few miles, and start World War I, the King of Belgium replied, "Belgium is a country, not a road?" Boundaries serve a purpose, for countries and for relationships. Infractions and minor invasions are only minor to the one doing the invading. If it is such a small thing, why must they do it?

Those of us who try to do right are susceptible to a whole host of accusations. We question ourselves and what we do to see if we are doing the right thing. The folks on the other side are not necessarily burdened with our civilized thoughts. You have to be prepared that the other person (or organization) not only doesn't operate under your rules, but also sees them as a weakness. Darwin valued not strength, nor intelligence, but instead the ability to adapt. A great theory unless you find yourself in the wrong neighborhood and outnumbered or out gunned. In the short run, people fear, or respect power. The power to shoot or crush someone is a great motivation to sharpen their listening skills. An appreciation of that principle is realistic, not barbaric.

So next time you deal with someone who is known for "playing hardball" or when you are concerned about not acceding to a "small" violation, ask yourself what message you want to send. You can live up to your principles by exercising restraint, by offering compromises, or being charitable. But put it in some context. Offer to go more than half way. Give to get. But see the situation clearly for what it is. Not from your perspective, or from their perspective, but for what it really is. We do the right thing to honor our own principles and beliefs. The other side may never accept or even understand why we do it. Living up to our own code of conduct is a definition for civilized behavior, and a cause for war. When you offer your heart, be prepared to lose your butt.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

JWR contributor Alan Douglas, an author, media executive, speaker, and attorney, lives con brio- except when he is grumpy.


Previously:

When Katie Couric Got Pulled Off the Air…
Don't second guess the deceased
Pain and legacies
Being in the No
The Sixth Sense
Dogs in Danger
Facebook, LinkedIn and the Zuckerberg Exit
Simon Bolivar Would Tell Glenn Beck to, ‘Put A Sock In It’
Children and Grandchildren
Swearing, Shoes, and Mark Twain
How my poor man's Porsche, Virgil, prepared me for life
Leases and Landing Gear
The Oscars, Obama and Job Creation
Damages and Penalties
Obstacles with Impossibilities
Making Others Feel Bad
Referrals and Recommendations
Woodpecker Frustration
Phrases, Not Resolutions
I Was A Crime Fighter and Super Hero
Comforting with Sympathizing
Nautical Worry Killers
Can You Keep A Secret?
Holiday Card Hazards
Gifts
Sharing, Transparency and Dumping
Red Alert
Readers Respond Regarding Rabbi
Readers: I Need Your Help with my Rabbi
Humphrey Bogart and P. T. Barnum on Fighting with Family and Friends
Columbus, Honors and Hound Dogs
The Free Lunch
When your child suffers
Conversational Transmitted Diseases
Conservative, Liberal or American
Paris, Antarctica and Shopping
Personal Protection
Dispute Resolution
Jumped or Pushed?
Friends and Acquaintances
Revenge and Vindication

© 2010 Alan Douglas

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles