To fulfill a favor can be simple enough; lend a neighbor some milk, pick up a friend’s mail while they are on vacation, no problem. A big favor, however, can be tricky. Tricky not just because of the possibility of it being an imposition but the possibility that it is not something you are comfortable doing. What do you do when stuck between your loyalty to a person and a hard place?
A friend or family member asks a favor that you are uncomfortable granting, what then? Do you risk damaging an important relationship for the sake of principle? Or do you fold on an important value rather than rock the boat? You’re never quite prepared for these kind of curve balls and when they come they can turn things upside down.
Each situation is different and every angle should be examined before a decision is made, carefully weighing each option. What kind of ripple effects are you looking at by granting this favor? Is it as easy as helping on this one thing and then walking away or will similar favors be asked of you in the future, setting an uncomfortable precedent? It’s tricky.
This very point illustrates the importance of boundaries in relationships. Most of the time you may not even realize they are there. They are just these invisible lines that help ensure a level of homeostasis in relationships. When they are tested though suddenly you are keenly aware of the fact that you are faced with a line being crossed.
Todd and I were faced with such a dilemma recently. We think the situation may have worked itself out before we ever had the opportunity to give our response to the request. If that turns out to be the case, good. Ultimately our conclusion after a few long talks is that when put in these kinds of positions the most important thing to us is to be united in our decision, whatever it may be. If one of us is still uncomfortable with whatever the request is after talking it out, that has to take priority over helping someone. No favor is worth a negative impact on our relationship.