How often are you taken for granted in your relationships or work? How guilty are you of taking others for granted? Easy to feel. Harder to fix, isn’t it?
Taken for granted (Audio)
Do you sometimes feel like you are taken for granted? How does that make you feel? What do you take for granted? How often do you realize that? It’s easy to do isn’t it? What can we do about it?
Finding definitions to this phrase led me to the simplest description, suggesting that to take something for grated is to no longer appreciate it. If we consider the genie popping out of the lamp that would “grant” you a wish, then we get a sense of the origin of this phrase, don’t we? A wish is “granted” or offered or made available to us to use. At first we would be incredibly grateful because it might be something so “out of the ordinary”. And after a while of it manifesting for us and us becoming used to it, the novelty wears off and we are off on the pursuit of something more shiny or endearing, and bingo, we take the originally exciting wish that was granted for granted. We no longer appreciate its value to the same extent as we did, do we?
Being taken for granted
We can probably all recall (a) situations(s) where we felt being taken for granted, right? After all the effort we put into something, somebody else (often the boss) gets all the credit (even the rewards) and we are left wondering “what’s in it for us”. Happens all the time, doesn’t it?
So what can we do about this?
My coaching experience has taught me that there is a very strong and direct link between one’s propensity for being taken for granted and one’s Self Doubt, Self Talk and sense of Self Worth. If we are very self-conscious and always worried about whether we are doing the right thing and what others may think of us, then, as I wrote in Confidence, Certainty and Doubt we can run the increased risk of allowing others to exploit us and to take us for granted.
Raising our Beliefs and focused building of our assertiveness as I wrote in Arrogance, Aggression & Assertiveness will help us “stand our ground” and offset many a potential for being taken for granted.
In my experience, one of the areas we often take for granted most is within our relationships. As kids we take our siblings and parents and teachers or mentors for granted. We often do the same with our friends. Probably one of the most frequent transgressions is with our spouse or partner. When last did you think of saying thanx or how much you value them with a bunch of flowers or similar gesture? How often do we remember to actually ask with a “please” or recognize a deed or a “duty” well done with a thank you or some genuine praise? So easy to do; So powerful a message addendum when we do; Yet how often do we actually do so? It’s so easy to forget in our busy day to day life, isn’t it?
When last have you surprised your spouse of partner with a spontaneous thought or gift? I wrote about the power of this in Surprise!.
One of my bosses was a typical senior executive who was extremely time poor (aren’t we all?) and he travelled the country and the world a lot. He developed a wonderful Habits where he made a point that he and his wife would go out to dinner together EVERY Friday evening that he was in town or when they were travelling together. It was their way of expressing their commitment to one another and recognizing that togetherness they valued.
Feeling taken for granted by others
Self-righteousness is quite easy when it comes to reflecting on how “others take us for granted”, isn’t it? But how often do we run the risk of taking something for granted in others, without even realizing it; certainly not being consciously aware of it?
Particularly as leaders, we need to retain an awareness so that we don’t fall into this trap. Inspiring visions and motivating leadership behaviours are all too easily annulled by the omission of recognizing contributions and taking “what is expected” for granted.
What are some typical examples of things we take for granted?
- Perhaps our job? In my blog Secure job? I spoke about how in today’s fast changing business world we can only expect a salary from a job one month at a time, and that complacency around that means we are no longer paying attention to what I wrote in Who is driving your bus? thereby overly ceding control for our career to our employer, whereby we allow ourselves to be taken for granted.
- As leaders, perhaps the commitment and contribution we expect from our subordinates in order for us to “look good” and to achieve the goals we have set (or had set for us).
- On a broader note, we may take living in peace or freedom of speech or other manifestations of living in a democracy for granted. Just looking at what the everyday media gives are enough examples of different countries or dictatorships where that is firmly controlled against the will or the interests of the people. Do we reflect on how grateful we can be to live in the first world environments we do?
- What about our technology, like our telephone or our computer or Internet Access, even just plugging a device into the wall and expecting everything to work just as intended – every time.
- And then there’s all our associations and partnerships, starting with our spouse or partner, going on to our families, or friends, our business friends, our contracts. In short our relationships. How much do we take them for granted and rely on them to be there for us all the time, every time? When last have you just picked up the phone and called a mate “out of the blue” to tell them you were thinking of them and wondering how they were going? Particularly those living further away, but whose friendship means a lot to you.
- Our health. All our wonderful plans and visions see us riding off into the sunset with great success, great relationships, and a host of other things we all dream about, very rarely considering how much we take our current health for granted, expecting it to continue like this for ever. Irrespective of the lifestyle stresses, the strains, the alcohol, the “fast food” and other pressures we lavishly pile onto our flailing personal ecosystems. When do we take time to oil and service that wonderful machine we all expect to keep going, no matter what we feed or demand from it; or take the time it needs to “smell the roses”?
So what is it that you dislike about being taken for granted? Are you aware of the increased risk that the ongoing resentment of something like this can potentially lead to ill health or disease? Given the awareness reading this far in the article has created, can you allow yourself this week to do something about it? Will you? Or will you just let it continue like the proverbial “dog on the nail”?
If you are a leader, what awareness will you need to avoid falling into this trap? How can you make sure that you remain aware of what people are contributing and recognize and praise them for doing so, rather than just expecting that from them every day?
And if this appears to be “too hard”, when will you consider “enough is enough” and perhaps seek a coach to help you work through it?
In either situation, what is it going to take, do you think? Will the prize be worth the price? What if it were?