“It’s not so much what you do or say, but how you make others feel.”
I came across this quote on a Facebook update a few days ago, and it triggered some sort of emotional response within me. I don’t know how philosophical the update was intended to be, but I just kept thinking about it, trying to interpret what the true meaning is. Naturally, I Googled the phrase and I was surprised how obscure the saying turned out to be. I was convinced it was an oft-used phrase. There were just 3 results in total, all originating from the same source. I don’t know if this is also the source for the Facebook update, but the full quote is in this case is (you can find the entire article here):
Winners recognize the truth of the saying: “It’s not so much what you do or say, but how you make others feel.”
I kind of, sort of, maybe understand what is meant with this quote, but I feel wholly uncomfortable with the wording. It was too reminiscent of my own private thoughts, too closely connected to my own anxieties. It sounded too much like something my dark side repeated to me over and over again during the past few weeks, even as I tried my best to ignore it: “In the end, how hard I try, what I do, or say will not make a difference. Because I am not able, never will be able, to make that other person feel special.” I know, I know… the contexts and the meanings are probably completely different, but the quote just doesn’t work for me. Even if I now set aside my own fears for a minute; is how you make others feel the barometer of your worth? Feelings are often inconsistent, little more than an illusion; they are often a poor reflection of reality. Surely, what you actually do or say is in many cases more important than how you make others feel? Logically speaking, you can justify any terrible deed then, as long as you can make other people feel good about it. And on the other extreme, if you do a good deed for someone who perhaps doesn’t appreciate or even notice it, does that mean then that the deed has no meaningful value at all. I choose to believe otherwise, at least during my better moments. If you truly care about someone, how that person feels about you is of secondary importance.
Interestingly, the quote in the article that preceded this quote works much better for me: “A winner is someone who tries as hard as they can, without sacrificing their values, their integrity, or time with their family.” To me, the two quotes are incompatible with each other. You shouldn’t sacrifice your beliefs, your integrity, no matter how others feel about it.