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Ann Cannon: Taking an 'accommodating' view about human nature

Published May 4, 2017 10:02 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Today I wish to discuss something I've noticed about human beings, aka "us." But first I want to tell you about a recent road trip my mother and I took to attend her grandson's and my nephew's wedding. (Hey, congratulations, Nick and Courtney!)

Anyway. It was just the two of us this time — sort of like Thelma and Louise, if Thelma and Louise had been members of AARP. Meanwhile, here's an example of the conversations Mom and I had along the way.

Me: Should we stop in Fillmore and get some Corn Nuts?

Her: Whatever you want to do.

Me: No. It's whatever you want to do.

Her: No. It's whatever YOU want to do.

Here's another example.

Her: Where would you like to go to dinner?

Me: I'm good with whatever. Where would you like to go to dinner?

Her: I'm good with whatever. You choose.

Me: No, seriously. YOU choose.

Or there's this one.

Me: Do you want to watch a movie or play cards tonight?

Her: Either one.

Me: Same here. Either one.

Her: Both are good choices. You choose.

Me: I agree. Both are good choices. YOU choose.

My mom and I had conversations like these on our recent road trip because both of us are accommodators— that is, we often feel more motivated to accommodate other people's choices than we do to accommodate our own. And if you recognize yourself in any of these conversations, you may also be an accommodator, as well, which means by the time you and your mother decided to buy some Corn Nuts in Fillmore, you were already in Cedar City. Welcome to our club!

But that's not the point. The point is this: Typically my mom and I would say this trait is the good thing about us. We're flexible! We're sensitive to other people's needs! We're just happy to be along for the ride, and while we're along for the ride, we're not the least bit demanding! No sir, not us.

(Actually, these things are true of my mother. Me, I'm accommodating because I'm lazy. So there's that.)

Eventually, however, it occurred to me that sometimes a desire to accommodate actually complicates things rather than making them easier. There are times, for instance, when someone just needs to step up and say let's have some Thai for dinner (drunken noodles) or let's play cards tonight (even though I know you'll beat me again) or yes! By all means! Let's stop in Fillmore and buy some Corn Nuts (but let's get the "original" flavor, not "ranch" or "barbecue")!

Which brings me to this observation, not for the first time, about human beings. The good thing about a person can also be the difficult thing about that very same person. For example, in some contexts stubbornness can be viewed as persistence or doggedness or grit. In other contexts, it can just be viewed as — you know — stubbornness. Same quality. Different manifestations.

The opposite can be true, too. Take my husband, for example. He carries around a battered briefcase that roughly dates from the Mesozoic Era. At times I'll look at that briefcase and wonder why dude won't spring for a new one. But then I remember he appreciates old things — like an old wife, for example. And suddenly I find him and that briefcase pretty darn endearing.

Oh, human beings.

Still. The next time my mother and I hit the road, I think I'll hire a non-accomodator to go with us. If you're interested in the job, feel free to send résumés to me in care of this paper.

Thank you. And have a nice day.

Ann Cannon can be reached at acannon@sltrib.com or facebook.com/anncannontrib.






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