Betty Ago: You’re The Only One

We all wish to cultivate our uniqueness as individuals. At the same time, we need to be part of a community or family.  Psychologists, personnel managers, school principals, and most people with any kind of authority know this. This knowledge can be used for a number of purposes to manipulate people for good or not-so-good purposes.

Have you ever had a problem that you took to the appropriate authority only to be told, “Well, you’re the only one to ever complain about that.” Does it make you feel foolish? This is a tactic frequently used to make you go away.

A similar tactic is “If I do this for you, I will have to do it for everyone.” There is a great deal of logic in that one. Except that sometimes, it SHOULD be done for everyone. Two personal experiences will suffice as examples.

  1. When one of my kids was extremely unhappy in elementary school with every school day ending in tears, I had a meeting with the Principal. The unhappiness was based on boredom. Nothing was taught in that classroom that she did not already know. This was at the time when students were expected to perform at grade level and every student in the class did exactly the same work at the same time.  I requested that she be moved up to the next grade. The Principal acknowledged that my daughter was well behaved in class and could probably benefit from the change. HOWEVER, he said, “I can’t do that because if I do it for you, I will have to do this for everybody.” In other words, it was against his policy to treat students as individuals.  I was persistent and, I am embarrassed to admit, used tears.  The new class assignment was to be temporary, but soon became permanent. Life for my daughter was improved.  I hoped that this precedent also helped a few others.
  2. I was recently on the other side of this argument. When a resident in our community was initially given permission to do something that is against our CCRC rules, I said, “If he can do it, so can I.”   The permission was rescinded. My sympathies are with the disappointed resident.  He should have been told ‘no’ in the first place. I guess no one told him, “If I let you do it, I’ll have let everyone do it.”

What I am trying to say, is: If you have an idea or a problem that you have contemplated and sincerely believe is important, don’t be intimidated. Be willing to discuss alternatives, acknowledge rules, be polite, be patient, but don’t give up.

Betty Ago


Betty is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale entry fee communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.

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