Throughout life, I’ve had experiences with other people who would frustrate me and I’d be upset that other people wouldn’t or couldn’t react to situations the same way I did or the way I thought they should. And then I realized, there are two types of people: Space-Makers and Space-Takers.
When Space-Makers find other Space-Makers and become friends, it’s usually a harmonious situation, because Space-Makers anticipate the needs of others, they are considerate, and they like to keep things peaceful around them. Space-Makers naturally help others, but it doesn’t mean they are automatically pushovers.
And that’s a serious problem when Space-Makers become friends with Space-Takers. Conflict will be lurking in every casual lunch, road trip, and seemingly innocent encounter. It’s even worse if both the Space-Maker and Space-Taker are non-confrontational and passive aggressive.
The fascinating thing about Space-Takers is that, they usually don’t notice they are Space-Takers and they over emphasize or remind you of the few times they’ve made space for others.
Space-Takers inherently make themselves comfortable first, and then ask if others need anything once their needs have been taken care of. They don’t need anyone to tell them to put on the oxygen mask first before helping others, they got that. Self-care is a given.
Space-Takers have the philosophy that they’ll act first and ask for forgiveness later. Space-takers find ways to get what they want, and manage to convince others to do most of the heavy lifting for them. Space-Takers have no problem expressing their displeasure with services rendered, and they demand satisfaction for poor service or any inconvenience. Space-Takers will send back food, ask for discounts, ask to see a supervisor, and may say jerky things like “I pay your salary.” Space-Takers have no problem asking to borrow something from a Space-Maker, with no intention of giving it back, even if the Space-Maker needs the item, but was willing to share it temporarily. I was in a situation where a Space Taker asked to borrow a phone charger. They had the charger for an entire day, and the battery ran low again. The Space-Maker asked for it back, but the Space-Taker said, their battery had run low again, and they needed it. At that moment, I had to remind the Space-Taker that the Space-Maker had already done them a solid the previous day, and probably doesn’t have any more cell phone juice themselves, because they shared their charger. It was a cringe-worthy moment, that made everyone uncomfortable, including the Space-Maker who clearly would prefer to get their stuff back. But the Space-Taker was unbothered and didn’t even recognize how running up the battery, expecting the Space-Maker to let them use it again, was inconsiderate.
And that’s when Space-Makers get upset. I know I have.
From personal experience, I’ve learned that if I do something for a Space-taker, it’s a conscious decision that I made and that regardless if they are grateful or not, if I’m doing something to avoid drama that I anticipate by doing the action for the Space-Taker, the cost benefit of avoiding the drama was more important to me, than that person acknowledging me for it or knowing they may or may not do the same for me if the tables were reversed.
It’s often difficult to have a conversation/intervention with a Space-Taker, because they are oblivious to their ways, but only to a certain extent. Deep down, I think they know how far they can push Space-Makers and they push their luck with them until Space-Makers fight back or call them out.
I wouldn’t want to be in the middle of an argument between two Space-Takers because neither party will relent, Space-Takers naturally take up the space, Space-Makers naturally make and account for.
Let’s take a movie theater or airplane arm rest for example. Space-Makers who are in an aisle or window, will probably leave the interior arm rests alone, so the poor person in the middle has an arm rest. Space-Takers will still take the middle arm rest.
Space-Makers are the people at church who move down when more people come to sit on the pew. Space-Takers glare, stay seated firmly, with the expectation that others will simply climb over them and take their seats.
The reverse also happens, if people have gotten comfortable in a situation, and a Space-Taker needs to get up, move, go to the bathroom or take care of their own need, they will not wait for an intermission, or a time when others have gotten up. If their movement may inconvenience others, they don’t care, they have to take care of their specific need when it comes to their mind, and others must make space to accommodate.
Space-Makers are observant of their surroundings and they plan accordingly. Space-Makers are the kinds of people, who if seated on a crowded train or bus, will get up just before their stop. Space-Takers will wait until they reach their stop, then expect the crowds to part so they can exit.
Space-Makers read the body language of people around them and notice if people are tired, or upset and do whatever is easiest for the group to accomplish its general goal. Space-Takers may notice the frustration of others around them, but will choose to do the thing they want to do first and will have no trouble asking or expecting others to do what they want to do, even if they don’t want to do it.
Space-Takers may manipulate a situation, to ensure the greater group has no other choice but to go along with their option. After their needs have been satisfied first, they are able to go along with the needs of others. But the reverse doesn’t work out well for Space-Takers. If a Space-Taker puts the needs of others before themselves, you will hear about it, and they may use that one situation several times, to explain that they are not a Space-Taker and have a giving nature.
So, who are you? Are you a Space-Maker or Space-Taker? How would you feel if a friend told you that you are a Space-Taker? Would it make you think about how considerate you are to others?
I do think tendencies for both types of people are taught and nurtured by the people around them in their lives. Some people are raised to be considerate of others, while other people may be catered to. Some people may share with their family and wait their turn, while others in large families may have to fight and get their share of food, toys, the front seat of the car, and parental attention “first.” So it’s not a matter of being an only child or growing up with several brothers and sisters.
Space-Takers are the squeaky wheel. Space-Makers look for the oil.
As a Space-Maker, I’m often jealous of the Space-Takers ability to get what they want and the lack of concern about what others may have had to do or the effort expended to make that thing happen for them. So the anger is more about their rate of success and amount of yeses they actually get, then their aggressiveness, boldness and potential lack of consideration.
Space-Makers overextend themselves and quietly keep things going smoothly. Their small rewards don’t often reveal themselves immediately, meanwhile instant gratification is the carrot that Space-Takers reach for every time, even if it means taking up the space, the Space-Makers have strategically accounted for and made.
So, instead of Space-Makers resenting Space-Takers, sometimes you have to balance things out and employ Space-Taking methods. And Space-Takers can learn a thing or two from Space-Makers, and consciously attempt to make more space, for the people in their lives.