In the context of relatedness/affinity it really takes something to say “No”


An insight into the machinery of being human

There is a certain joy that is present when I encounter someone who occurs as being a “fruit of the same tree”. There are only a handful of people that I know who show up that way in my world. As you can imagine these people occur as special and so the inclination (off the automatic machinery of being human) is to say yes to the invitations and their requests. Put bluntly, the automatic machinery (of being human) does not wish to put the relatedness/affinity at stake by saying “no”.

A person whom I like/admire/respect makes a request of me

This week such a person, a person who I like/admire/respect, reached out to me and requested an endorsement. Upon receiving this request I noticed surprise and delight: “Wow, this person considers me worthy of endorsing him.” As as I grappled with this request I found myself in a bind.

I felt torn between competing values and commitments. How do I honour the distinction “endorsement” (not devalue it) and at the same time take on the request made of me by friend? The issue was not an issue of the competence of my friend: I am confident that he is competent, highly competent. Rather, the issue is that I have never worked with my friend and as such I am not in a position to provide an endorsement without devaluing the endorsements that i have already given to people with whom I have worked.

The bigger issue underlying this issue was the fact that I did not wish to say “no” to the request and thus hurt the feelings of my friend. And I did not want to put our relationship at risk. I noticed the temptation to pretend that I had not received this request for an endorsement. So I did nothing for a couple of days.

Eventually, I chose to be authentic, to act in accordance with my stand. So I wrote back to my friend thanking him for his invitation to endorse him. I explained how I found myself in a difficult position. And I told him that I was choosing not to accept his invitation/request. Once I hit the send button I was at peace knowing that it will work out the way that it will work out. And, that both of us are big enough to be with what there is to be with.

Is there an insight here?

It takes courage to be true to our stand especially when it occurs to us that we are at risk in some way. And it is very deep caring and commitment to our stand which provides the courage to be and to do that which is in authentic alignment with our stand when our automatic machinery is yelling/screaming at us to take the short cut, to give in, to please, to not put self at risk.
I notice that self-respect and a sense of being powerful shows up when I am being in accordance with my stand. The opposite is also true for me: when I fail to be my stand then I notice a loss of power (in my being / showing up in the world) and self-esteem.

Is it possible that when I stand for that which I have chosen to stand for, and do that in a manner that honors the dignity of my fellow human beings, I am creating an opening, an invitation, for my fellow human beings to express their voice and stand for that which matters to them?

On exercising the best of our humanity: hospitality toward strangers


I am a ‘softy’ and I am proud to be a ‘softy’ nowadays – this was not always the case!  I cry (sometimes buckets) when I watch a movie (e.g. Gandhi, Schindlers List) that shows the best of our humanity in action.  I cry when I read a story where someone has put their humanity into action (e.g. Three Cups of Tea).  I cry when I listen to someone who shares an inspiring story with passion.

Just now I found my humanity touched.  I found myself inspired and I found myself with tears of joy running down my face.  What brought that on?  I invite you to experience it for yourself.  Watch this TED talk by William Ury: The walk from Yes to No

I believe that most of us are good people – loving and caring human beings.  Most of us really do not want to create conflict or be immersed in conflict.  Yet it happens we find ourselves in the midst of conflict before we know it.  This talk provides a simple but not simplistic path  that we can all follow.  It may even inspire many of us to be hospitable to strangers and not just our close friends and family.

I love the bit about walking together – side by side.  How true it is that when I walk with a fellow human being I do not feel threatened, I even look forward to the experience.