It is considerate to want to help people with their problems, or give them things they want. The problem is that sometimes you don’t know what their problems are, or what they want. Or you assume what their problems are or what you think they want.
While it is considerate to try to help people, it can be inconsiderate also if you don’t do it in a way that considers what they really want or need. The good intention of wanting to help someone is countered to some extent by the lack of care for what they actually want or need.
- If someone tries to set you up with someone romantically without telling you, they may think you will want that, but if they don’t know if you like that person, or if you are looking for a relationship at all, then it may just be a hassle you are not looking for.
- If someone buys you a pet, but you do not like that animal or pets in general then you might appreciate the gesture but you won’t like the present. If you are not able or don’t want to do all the work involved with keeping a pet, then they might be unknowingly giving you a lot of work and wasting your time for something you didn’t want and never asked for.
- If someone signs you up to join something like a job or a class, but they choose the wrong one then you might be stuck and unable to change it.
- If someone spends a lot of money to get you something they thought you wanted or needed, but you have no want or need for it then they would have just wasted their own money, and perhaps less importantly made you feel guilty.
Being considerate and inconsiderate at the same time
When you want to help someone, the intent is considerate of that person. When carrying out that help, you cannot simply settle for that considerate intention and then proceed do to whatever you want to achieve it. The way you help someone can be inconsiderate, so you need to make sure that you’re actually doing something that will help the person. If not, you are being only shallowly considerate, and instead of truly helping the person you are more so blindly acting without thinking about the consequences. It can even be selfish, simply doing things because you think they’re good, but completely disrespecting everyone else involved simply to make yourself feel good. Since that is misguided and selfish it should obviously be avoided.
Consideration is fairly straightforward and literal; the point is to consider what other people want and need. It is not a choice you make once and then ignore because that one time sufficed, it is a quality that determines every choice you make. Every choice should consider it’s consequences on other people and yourself. To not do so is selfish or inconsiderate.
Dealing with people who do this
When someone is only partially considerate and ends up causing you more trouble than help, they may call you ungrateful for their help. However, if their attempt to help you did not really care about what you wanted, then they are the ones at fault, and likely still do not realise that they were being inconsiderate in how they helped you. However, just because someone’s attempt to help you failed in practice does not mean that their desire to help should go unnoticed. You should indeed be grateful for their intent. This does not however mean that you are not allowed to tell them how inconsiderate and harmful their poorly thought through plan was. It is important to tell them so that they realise the mistake they made and that is was because they did not consider what you wanted, so that they do not make the same mistake again.
So don’t do this
If you make a decision without considering all relevant factors, you’re likely to make a mistake. If you’re trying to help someone, take into account what will actually help them, don’t just blindly do something you assume is helpful. Take that person into consideration. If you don’t care about what they want or what they need, then you may be not thinking it through properly, assuming what you’re doing is helpful in general without considering this person’s specific situation, or are assuming you know what is best for them. If you’re going to intervene in someone else’s life and change it, you have the responsibility of being certain that you’re doing it for the better, not just with good intentions. Good intentions are the first necessary step, but are not sufficient.
Helping others is good, but you need to make sure you are really helping them by knowing what they want.