Be On Guard Of People Who Tell You What You Need

Written by Jeff Davidson on April 6, 2022

There I was, attending a social mixer downtown. Arriving early, few others had arrived. So I took out my notepad and pen and leisurely started making notes. A lady who saw me asked what I was writing, which, of course, could be either a friendly way to start a conversation or intrusive, depending on your point of view. I took it as the former and shared with her my predisposition to take notes outside of my office because I am able to generate ideas that I don’t readily emerge at my desk.

Presumably, my explanation was not satisfactory for her. In rapid succession, she told me, “You need to get a drink.” (Actually, I don’t drink.) “You should stop making notes. You ought to relax.” (Making notes is relaxing to me.) “You need to get a life.” Paradoxically, I am the author of the audiobook, Get a Life. I also own the registered trademark for the program, Relaxing at High Speed and I have delivered lectures on this topic for three decades.

Very Fast and Very Wrong

I find it beyond strange when someone at a social gathering, in short order, will assess what I need to do, with one pronouncement after another. When told that I needed to relax, I said, “If I was any more relaxed, I’d fall asleep.”

I came away from that experience recognizing that people who will readily tell you what you need are the ones who need what they’re telling you. You might have noticed a somewhat similar phenomenon in the workplace. Suppose you work in a company that is crowded, noisy, and busy almost all the time. However, in your own office or cubicle, whichever the case might be, you’re able to maintain order.

Perhaps you have installed some sound barriers, if that is appropriate, and have crafted a workspace where you can get things done. People who walk by notice that your office equipment, resources, and possessions are organized. Guess what? Some office mates won’t tell you this, but they are uncomfortable with your organizing skills.

If such people could find a simple way to articulate it, they would tell you, “Loosen up. You don’t need to be so neat and orderly.” Why, however, are they itching to tell you this? Because your level of organization makes them feel inadequate.

Emulate Me, So that I’ll Feel Better

Much like the lady at the social gathering, who told me what “I needed”, some people in your immediate environment, in observing your capacity for taking charge of your space, and perhaps noting your higher-than-average level of productivity, would rather that you acted and proceeded in a different way. You might not hear that from them, but that is what they’re thinking.

Beware wary of those people who so quickly assess what you need, while completely missing the boat about their own needs. They fail to realize that what they’re telling you is probably what they need to address for themselves.

Jeff Davidson
Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" and the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people.