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The Book of Na'Lon

or rather, Inane Ramblings of an Expatriot

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The Possibility of 'No'
cricket
na_lon
Various people in my life - some of the flist and some off it - have been arguing about a variety of things. I haven't paid over much attention, because I don't have the energy to get involved.

But one thing that has crystallised for me today is that these 'arguments' or 'issues' or whatever have one type of flash-points in common: that of how to respond to a request from someone else, be it a professional or a friend.

My feeling is that a request needs to be treated as simply that. It is not an order, and the requester needs to be aware of the possibility that the answer to the request is 'No'.

No doubt that such a 'No' can upset or cause further problems, but it ought to be possible to say it. This can be done sensitively - no need to be defensive or rude about it. E.g. "I am afraid that I am not comfortable with [doing x]." Such an answer says, to my mind, "Please don't push me. Give me breathing space."

It might surprise me, or annoy me to get a 'No', and I think I would be entitled to such feelings, but I also ought to respect the answer - especially if a friend gave me that 'No' or a client. If I pushed beyond the 'No', I would be creating a barrier between me and my friend/client/student.

So - what am I saying? I guess what I am getting at is that some things might seem like a small deal to me, but to someone else they may be a big deal. But since I can't secondguess another's response, I need to be allowed to ask. And accept if the answer is not what I like to hear.

{Exits stage left, calls: "Marquis, could you please get me a drink?" Answer: "No." Thinks: "Shouldn't have posted all that..." Goes to fetch drink.}


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I think that's a very good point. It's very rare for both parties to have the maturity to accept that though -- more often, the requestee is outraged by the request and the requester is hurt by the refusal! Pity.

In my life, I am rarely brave enough to just say to someone "I am bothered by the way you X", fearing to cause offence, but on the rare occasions someone's said it to me, I've usually found it helpful and been grateful that they were upfront rather than just festering away being bugged by whatever it was I was doing! So I guess I'm better at being the requestee than the requester on these occasions. (Maybe this explains why in the Great Veil Debate I find it hard to sympathise with the outrage.)

(Apologies for the word requestee, it is a bit horrible I know...)

- Neuromancer

What you say about maturity is only too true, sadly, but I guess in a small way we can all practise being requesters and requestees (maybe not a nice word, but it does serve the purpose!)

Like you I find it easier to be a requestee than a requester for much the same reason. And like you I find it hard to be outraged about the Great Veil Debate. I do not see a problem with asking. I have been asked on a number of occasions to remove items of clothing by professionals - mostly of a medical ilk - and it's never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with that. If taking off my X helps the professional do their job, why should I do so?

I think the point you make that I find most striking (and also true for me) that I'd rather know, even if I might be a little upset at finding out, than wondering if the other person is festering. I try to remind myself of that when I am finding it hard to make a request or indeed to turn such a request down!

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