By Neha Gupta Lehl
I was late by 15 minutes for the all-important appointment, and the auto rickshaw dropped me at a spot farther from my intended destination.
Worrying about getting late for my appointment, I was trying to pay the exact fare to the auto rickshaw driver, and getting very frazzled. Rummaging through my purse, the contents of which resembled a full cupboard, I came up with the amount minus ten rupees. Apart from that I had only Rs 2,000 note, for which the auto driver did not have any change. Hassle, hassle. I was beginning to get more flustered. Suddenly, I felt a presence and looked up. An old gentleman clad in simple cotton pant and shirt, wearing thick glasses, and walking with a stick, was coming towards the auto. He stood there and waited patiently. Then he moved a few steps away in indecision and stopped again. I realised, he wanted to hire the auto rickshaw. I handed a crumpled mess of Rs 10 notes, and a few coins to the auto driver, and hurriedly got off to make way for the old man. The fare was still short by ten rupees. I was still raking my purse, hoping for a miracle appearance of another ten rupees note.
Suddenly I heard a warm, practical and understanding voice, “Let me pay that ten rupees, I have change.”
The old man had seated himself in the rickshaw by now and was pulling out the needed note.
I said, “Wait, wait, I may just have it!”
Very naturally, he said, “I’ll get these ten rupees back, don’t worry. You go on.”
And then… I accepted.
Graciously, I said, “Thank you so much,” and went for my appointment.
There was so much ease in this entire transaction, so much respect and equality in the whole process, that it left quite an impact on me.
If you think about it, there isn’t much to it, but if you delve deeper, you will find meaning. Every human transaction is an exchange of sorts, a give and take. Not always monetary/tangible but a give and take nonetheless. Sometimes of emotions and sometimes of time. In my work with various types of people, I have observed a common human tendency, which is that it is often easier for us to give than to receive. Let me illustrate it with a few questions. How do you feel receiving hospitality over and over again by a friend, and not being able to invite back?
Receiving gifts or compliments?
How do you feel when you receive help?
Now let’s flip it –
How do you feel hosting?
How do you feel giving gifts or compliments?
How do you feel helping?
Do the answers throw some light? Of course, some of us are more comfortable receiving than others. But the thought that I am complete unto myself and need no help from anyone can stop us from receiving gracefully. It might generate a feeling of inadequacy.
But the fact remains that giving and receiving are an intrinsic part of human life and an imbalance in it can cause pain and suffering. Life, which is always looking to balance itself, puts us through uncomfortable situations to make us learn to give with humility and receive with graciousness. Many proud givers find themselves in situations where they are compelled to receive, which they often do grudgingly. And many blind takers are forced by circumstances to acknowledge the greatness of the giver.
Let us do a simple exercise to resolve this dilemma.While giving – Check where you are coming from? What is your own need? What are you telling yourself when you are doing it? What are the non-verbal cues and signals you are giving? Can you be transparent with yourself in this matter? Whatever your vibes are, they will be picked up by the receiver too.
While receiving – Check how do you feel about it? How much of it is your feeling and how much of it is of the giver? See if there is a verbal or non-verbal message you want to convey, as to whether you are comfortable or uncomfortable receiving a particular piece of help. Another interesting angle is – just because the other is offering help, you are under no obligation to receive it! For example, a co-passenger giving me ‘helpful’ suggestions on how to put my luggage in the overhead compartment in an aircraft. I don’t need this help, in fact, I find it condescending. So it is okay to convey this with a polite smile, “Thank you but I am managing fine.”
Coming back to receiving, can you begin to identify conditions in which you are okay to receive? And then with conscious effort learn to receive and thank gracefully?
The purpose of doing these exercises is to bring more ease to human transactions, after all, so much of what we do, is to create more ease of connecting and relating to each other. Isn’t it?
About the author
Neha Gupta Lehl is a writer, facilitator, coach, and organisational development alchemist. She loves metaphors, travelling and the sea. Her first book is scheduled to be published later this year
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