Gretchen Rubin

This Wednesday: Quiz — do you make other people unhappy?

Every Wednesday is Tip Day (or Quiz Day).
This Wednesday -- Quiz: Do you make other people unhappy?

One of the most crucial keys to happiness is the ability to make other people happy. (In fact, a device to warn you if you're being boring or irritating is in development.)

Many people, however, don’t realize that they’re not making people happy – quite the reverse. They have their own explanations for the things they say and do, and they don’t acknowledge how they’re affecting other people.

One of my favorite sections in Bob Sutton's excellent book, The No A****** Rule (I'm omitting the title not from prudery but from fear of spam-blockers), was his quiz, also posted on his blog, Are You a Certified A******?. Some people don't recognize the clues that should tip them off to people's reactions.

So, inspired by Bob Sutton, I've put together this quiz, "Do you make other people unhappy?" Be brutally honest as you answer:

--Do you often find that when you do something nice for people, they do a lot of grumbling? Do they seem ungrateful or uncooperative? Do they seem reluctant to accept your generosity?

--When you join a group of people, does the mood often shift? Does a group tend to break apart after you join it?

--When you do something generous for others, do you think it only right that your generosity will allow you to make decisions for them or direct their actions?

--Do you find it hard to get your calls and emails returned by just about everyone?

--Are you often puzzled because the people around you seem dramatically to over-react to little mistakes, oversights, jokes, or casual remarks you make?

--Do you often find yourself saying defensively, “It was just a joke!”

--Do you find that people seem resentful and angry when you offer objective, helpful criticism or advice?

--Do you often find out that something you’ve done or said has caused an argument between two other people? (E.g., your son tells you that he and your daughter-in-law have been arguing about the lovely plans you’ve made for Thanksgiving.)

--Do you find that even when you’re trying to be helpful by explaining something or providing interesting information, people don’t want to seem to listen to you?

--Do you feel annoyed because people tend to refuse to acknowledge your greater experience or knowledge in an area, and instead, ignore your suggestions?

--Do people tend to gang up against you – when you’re arguing one side, everyone takes the other side, or when one person criticizes you, everyone else chimes in?

--Do you find it funny to see other people squirm?

--If someone asks for your opinion, do you think it's right to tell them frankly what you think?

--Do you go out of your way to point out to people their mistakes or areas of incompetence – if possible, in front of others?

--If good fortune befalls others, do you feel that their good fortune makes it somehow less likely that something good can happen to you?

--Do your peers seem to have social lives that are very different from yours? Is everyone talking about going to weddings, to surprise fortieth birthday parties, to baby showers, to Christmas parties, but you’re not often invited to these kinds of occasions?

--Is it fairly common for one person to tell you that he or she will speak to a third person, so that you need not speak to that third person directly? In other words, do people volunteer to act as intermediaries for you, rather than let you do your own talking?

A “yes” may be a red flag that you’re a source of unhappiness for others.

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