A Culture Where It DOES Hurt to Ask…

You know that phrase, it never hurts to ask? Well, I think it can be spot on and even more so, that it can be an indicator of a society and culture. I’m a big believer of not taking things personally (one of the Four Agreements) and when practicing and believing this truth in your life, then the phrase works in this situation and it doesn’t hurt to ask. Or to put it more clearly, it doesn’t have to hurt you to ask. Keep this in mind as you read on…

Have you ever asked a favor of someone or just asked for more information, perhaps more clarification regarding something? And then that someone just doesn’t respond back. I’m not talking about the situations where you have to break free of someone or an unhealthy relationship. I know there are times when it is best to not answer back. What I’m referring to is the basic favor or perhaps question that may even have to do with business and is not even along personal lines.

What is up with people just NOT responding and following up? With all the technology in the world that we have and how connected we are, it seems that our communication between each other has only gotten worse. People simply don’t respond back. And why is this? Are we too busy? Are we afraid of saying no? Do we not want to tell the truth? Are we taking things personally?

Well, I’m posing questions because I think for each person the answers will vary, depending on the unique situation that one may be in and how different we each are. So answers are not what you will find here. Yet, what you are reading is my personal opinion. Regarding this matter, I think it is rude and poor manners to absolutely ignore when something is asked of you. I have found this neglect and avoidance to be more common in the American culture. Personally and professionally, people think that to have no response is fine. And I think it’s not. I think it’s cowardly and lazy.

I take it upon myself and my own responsibility to not be hurt by it…that is in my control and I do not blame others for whether or not I take offense to their non-response. If someone does not respond to me, I know and believe that they are not trying to hurt me. Actually, they cannot hurt me, unless I allow them to by deciding to take it personally. The powerful thing about not taking things personally is that what someone does, in this case not responding to something asked, only says everything about that person, not about me.

So me being hurt by asking is not necessarily in the equation here (remember, I take responsibility for that on myself). What is hurt is our culture and society. The etiquette and integrity of our personal and professional relationships and such societal structures. From my own personal experience, it has shown me first-hand that American culture does not tend to share. We do not like to be asked for things or for that matter, to be asked anything. Perhaps we think we’re too busy, the proverbial response that is received to almost anything in American life. And I say we including myself, because 1) I’m American and do love my country and 2) I have lived that life before and been that way – too busy.

This year has taught me different though. And you know what? It’s worth having learned this: that now-a-days and throughout the world, it can hurt to ask. If I let it of course…and as imperfect as I am at this as well, I am excited to turn this observation into motivation to communicate more considerately and truthfully, getting back to people, even if it means having to say no to what they may be asking. There are many people who I am fortunate to know and work with who are considerate and brave in getting back to me. I appreciate and thank them greatly because they are the biggest inspiration of all regarding this conviction.

I want to be intentional about this concept because it’s the kind of person I want to be and the way I desire and hope for people to be with me. So here’s to the reality that it can hurt to ask. On what end of the asking will you be?

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