Let Others Be

For John O’Brien, his hope was that we may care enough to love enough to share enough to let others become what they can be; but how do we do this at home, at work, and in the context of our other important relationships? Consider the following strategies. They may or may not work equally well for all of us; but they are definitely worth considering.

Cooperation: Emphasize a helpful, supportive approach to all of your relationships and activities with other people.

Bertrand Russell said, “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” You likely will want to set your sights a little less grandly than redeeming mankind; but you nonetheless get the idea. Cooperation is definitely the way to go and helping others is one of the best ways to get there. What’s more, Charles Dudley promises added benefits for you if you are helpful and supportive with other people, “It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Now, that certainly sounds like the real deal, don’t you think?

Loyalty: Emphasize accommodating to the special needs and interests of people and facilitating the resolution of problems.

It’s easy here to see how that benefits other people which, of course, is the point. At the same time, though, you also benefit. Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “The most absolute authority is that which penetrates into a man’s innermost being and concerns itself no less with his will than with his actions.” Sure, if you accommodate to other people and help them work things out, you will feel better about who you are and what you do. It’s like Josiah Royce pointed out, “Unless you can find some sort of loyalty, you cannot find unity and peace in your active living.”

Caring: Emphasize concern for and interest in the activities, successes, and problems of other people.

Maxwell Maltz expressed it this way, “Take the trouble to stop and think of the other person’s feelings, his viewpoints, his desires and needs. Think more of what the other fellow wants, and how he must feel.” The message is simple. Take time to care; and remember Fred A. Allen’s words, “It is probably not love that makes the world go around, but rather those mutually supportive alliances through which partners recognize their dependence on each other for the achievement of shared and private goals.”


Sharing: Emphasize talking with other people, reciprocal assistance, and mutual problem solving.

As you think about this, a developing theme may bubble up into your consciousness. Listen to the message from Seneca, “He that does good to another does good also to himself.” If you don’t quite hear it yet, let Samuel Smiles say it again, “The duty of helping one’s self in the highest sense involves the helping of one’s neighbors.”

Respect: Emphasize acceptance of other people’s beliefs and values, receptivity to their thoughts and ideas, and sensitivity to their feelings and interests.

This is a simple principle that Laurence Sterne stated most succinctly, “Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.” The underlying message was also delivered by U. Thant, “Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect others even as we respect ourselves.”

Trust: Emphasize giving other people the benefit of the doubt without blaming, accusing, or threatening.

George MacDonald’s observation, “To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved,” may or may not ring true for you. Still, trusting others is a gift you can give to people to let them know that they are valued. At the same time, Shakti Gawain reiterates the “What helps other people helps you,” theme, “When I’m trusting and being myself … everything in my life reflects this by falling into place easily, often miraculously.”

Integrity: Emphasize keeping commitments to and agreements made with other people.

Samuel Johnson said, “There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.” Johnson’s message is clear: no integrity — no confidence — no friendship. The principle is easy; but the reality needs your careful attention. Titus Livius said, “Men’s minds are too ready to excuse guilt in themselves.” It’s just like J.R. Ewing from the old TV show “Dallas” said, “Once integrity goes, the rest is a piece of cake.” The take home message here comes from Socrates, “Be as you wish to seem.”

Conflict Resolution: Emphasize identifying, understanding, and working through conflicts and tensions people experience with you or with each other.

As you give this strategy your best effort, it helps to realize that Pierre Beaumarchais was right, “It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them.” This lets you know that reason usually isn’t going to resolve the conflict. If not reason, then what? Seneca found what is likely the essence of conflict resolution, “There is nothing so disagreeable, that a patient mind cannot find some solace for it.” A bit of solace and a lot of patience really does go a long way toward calming most heated situations. Getting everyone’s attention and quoting Vernon Howard might be slightly over the top, “We must become acquainted with our emotional household: we must see our feelings as they actually are, not as we assume they are. This breaks their hypnotic and damaging hold on us;” but your keeping Howard’s point in mind certainly can’t hurt. Along with that, two additional grains of wisdom will add to your odds of success. First, Andre Maurois said, “The difficult part in an argument is not to defend one’s opinion, but rather to know it.” If you combine that with the words of Elbert Hubbard, you may not be on the exact, right track; but you are headed in the right direction, “What people need and what they want may be very different.”

Now you know so there you go.