Have you ever heard the short story about the Sun and the Wind? It’s a great short story by the Greek fabulist, Aesop, that can teach a simple life lesson. Let’s look at the story and what we can take from it to improve our relationships…
The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there was great power in gentleness.
“We shall have a contest,” said the Sun.
Far below, a man traveled a winding road. He was wearing a warm winter coat.
“As a test of strength,” said the Sun, “Let us see which of us can take the coat off of that man.”
“It will be quite simple for me to force him to remove his coat,” bragged the Wind.
The Wind blew so hard, the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the shivering man clung to his coat.
Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. Sun warmed the air and the frosty ground. The man on the road unbuttoned his coat.
The sun grew slowly brighter and brighter.
Soon the man felt so hot, he took off his coat and sat down in a shady spot.
“How did you do that?” said the Wind.
“It was easy,” said the Sun, “I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way.”
The Moral: Gentleness is better than force.
What Can We Learn From Aesop’s Story?
When we think about this story, we need to think about how many times in our lives we have tried to get our way with force rather than gentleness. Let’s say you are unhappy with the service on your car and feel you have been cheated. What is your reaction? Do you react with gentleness towards the mechanic, or are you forceful?
Or consider this example…when you are calling for technical support on a problem and are on hold for 10 minutes. You finally get someone to take the call, but they say you have reached the wrong support department and transfer you. You are transferred and again are put on hold for 10 more minutes. Suddenly, out of the blue, the line is disconnected. 20 minutes of your day gone. Now, when you call back, are you gentle or forceful?
Last example…when your kid does not pick up after themselves despite your multiple reminders to clean up their messes. Do you respond with gentle or forceful words? Are you yelling at your child, or are you sternly, but gently telling them what they need to do?
In all of these examples, most people would respond with force, and who could blame them? They are justified…right? They have been treated unfairly, and “someone has to pay.” Unfortunately, it is this kind of thinking that can ruin our relationships and how we are seen by others.
The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Oil
We have all heard that the “squeaky wheel gets the oil,” and we have used this to justify why we need to use force rather than gentleness to get what we want. And it’s true. You can make a lot of noise and get what you want, in the short term, but are you getting what you want in the long term? Sure, you may get the immediate win, but what is the cost? Would you rather be feared for your aggressiveness, or respected for your kindness? This is a decision that you need to make and a decision that you need to understand, since this can have drastic results on your relationships over the long run.
As the Sun and Wind have taught us, gentleness is better than using force. If you want to see your relationships flourish and be closer, you need to use warmth, kindness, and love to form closer bonds with the ones you love. Do you really need or want to love the mechanic, or phone support person too? Probably not, but how do you want to be viewed by the world? Getting your way by force may give you the short win, but for your relationships and overall happiness, gentleness and warmth is the way!!!