In an email discussing a mutual disappointment, my colleague Valerie made the comment, “Maybe my lesson in all of this is that a small thing to one person can be a big thing to someone else.”
While that didn’t alleviate my disappointment, her lesson was a good reminder that things that barely show up on the emotional radar for one person can be absolutely catastrophic to someone else. For example, I once had a friend who habitually said that it was okay if I couldn’t make a lunch with her: “You know it doesn’t matter to me if we don’t go,” she’d say. The problem was that it did matter to me. She was my friend. I didn’t see her as often I would like, and, although her intention was to let me off the hook, her casualness hurt my feelings. But I’m also sure, that if she had known that, she would have been stunned at my sensitivity.
So, the lesson here is to be careful before labeling other people’s requests as trivial. They may seem small in the scheme of things, but that’s only because we’re not seeing them through others’ eyes.