Wednesday, February 21, 2007

How much is too much?

In the complicated world of interpersonal relationships, there are givers and there are takers. I think I've always been more of a giver. What makes me happy most (other than a vintage chateau margaux on a cool autumn evening) is helping my friends.

One of these friends recently observed that I probably do that too much. This was not meant so much as a criticism but a comment about my character. The problem, she explained so succinctly, is that sometimes you have to say "no" simply so that people understand that you can -- and also so they can learn to help themselves. The end result is this sort of vague notion that I allow myself to be taken advantage of, by nature of being nice.

Do I do my friends, and myself, a disservice by always being available to help - with a project, a favor, a personal situation, a crisis? Does being a nice guy too much make one a pushover? And if so, then what are the consequences of this? There's obviously a line somewhere. Maybe I'm too far on one side.

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