I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine the other day. We had opposing views of this one person we both know. I’m not here to say I was right or they were wrong. I’m just trying to determine if there even is a right or wrong way to deal with particular person.

The person in question, let’s call him Larry (cause that’s my go-to name to use in such occasions), has issues. Larry is a smart person, but like everyone else, flawed. The thing is, Larry always has to be right. If he even thinks he is wrong, he’ll argue, and argue, and argue the point until he’s blue in the face. Even if Larry is proven wrong, he still thinks he right and will think the other person is just stupid and didn’t get the memo that “Larry is always right”. Mind you, Larry is quite smart, and is often right. You think that would be enough for Larry, having the knowledge that he is smart and has the knowing of a lot of things. Wrong! Larry has to make sure everyone else knows Larry is right! This includes invading people’s personal papers, and personal space, to make the point that “Larry is always right!”. In short, everyone is a threat, or competitor. Not just for this and that, but for everything. So Larry has to be right all the time, so they can be better than the competition.

I know right, Larry is chock fulla insecurity. But it is this insecurity that makes him feel the need to act like this. But because of his smarts, he fees he’s also entitled to anything that his smarts can get him. But if he doesn’t get something he feels he deserved, he can’t handle it emotionally. It’s sort of like when a spoiled kid doesn’t get the toy he asked for, he cries.

I think by now, you get a sense of what Larry is like.

Most of the people in our group don’t like Larry. Can you blame them? Hell, more often than not, I don’t like him either!

But here’s where the conversation arises. There’s another person within this group, let’s call them Larry 2, who is annoying, but not to the extent that Larry is. But still, more often than not, the things out of Larry 2’s mouth makes you roll your eyes and wonder if this person has any clue as to the things they are saying.

The conversation was, essentially, comparing the two people. The other end of the conversation was saying that Larry 2 was better than Larry because Larry 2 wasn’t as self-centered. In fact, Larry 2 was occasionally helpful. Therefore, Larry is beyond being nice to, because of their self-centeredness.

Maybe it’s my attempts at self-improvement, which is still an ongoing process, but to treat one person better than another based on what they do for you isn’t entirely altruistic.

I understand the logic in it. If someone is nicer to me, then they are  a better person. If someone does nothing for me, then they aren’t worth my time.

In my opinion and experience, that isn’t always the case. I’ve had people who I thought were my closest friends, who did nice things for me, also abuse my good nature and my willingness to do something in return for their kindness. I’ve also had people I barely know do nice for me out of blue.

That is where the logic of it breaks down, and where we get to my point.

Just because someone does something nice for you, doesn’t mean they are your friend, or that they are nicer than the “Larry” in your world. Sometimes, a nice gesture is just that. But if the person doing the nice gesture is the kind of person who will recall their good deed at a later date to get what they want, or if the person like to talk a big game, then maybe their gesture isn’t all that altruistic.

Example: Years ago, I worked with this guy. I had a feeling about him, but generally he seemed like a nice guy. One day, I needed a lift to work and he gave me one. Nice right? Years later, I purchased a CD and was talking about how cool it was. He asked to borrow it. I told him, truthfully, that I don’t lend out my CDs. This is where he brought up the fact he gave me a lift to work years ago. He said he was joking afterwards, but having gotten to know him between getting the lift and asking to borrow the CD, I knew better.

Any gesture of helpfulness or kindness shouldn’t have conditions. No one should “buy” friendship.

Despite everyone else in the group not liking Larry, more often than not myself included, I have also seen the good in Larry. When he isn’t trying to compete, or prove he is right, he can be a funny, quick, good person. That is why I haven’t given up on Larry, like everyone. It doesn’t mean I’ll be bosom-buddies with him, or that I’ll call him out when I see him do or say something stupid. But the things I saw about him when he isn’t around, I’ll say to his face, if called out on them.

I feel the same way about Larry 2. In my eyes, both are in the same boat. Both have the potential to be good people. But both can say and do stupid things. But where Larry is has seemingly been written off by the group, Larry 2 isn’t. Why? Because he occasionally says nice things and in his own odd way, can be charming or endearing.

One thing I have been trying to learn is that you can’t control other people’s actions. I can’t stop Larry and Larry 2 from being who they are. I can choose to act or react to things they say or do, or I can choose not to. But one thing I can’t do is treat “Larry” better than “Larry 2” because the latter isn’t as bad as the former.

What people see of us isn’t always who we are. If we judge everybody on the negative aspects of others, and not the whole, I think that says more about us than it does about them.

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