Oct 29, 2011

24 The Act Of Kindness Or An Agenda?

I had an experience that reminded me of my grandmother. About two weeks ago I was buried up to my eyeballs in work when a dry throat and thirst prompted me to take a break. I decided to pause briefly to get myself some tea (a new habit am cultivating) when someone stopped by to say hello. She was heading in the same direction as I intended (the kitchen) when I thought to myself, 'why not ask her to bring you some hot water, that way you can get through some of this stuff burying you'. Now I am not in the habit of asking however I have learnt over the years that there is no harm in asking for assistance because if you do not ask, you’re not likely to get help, besides I thought, I am not asking for anything I cannot do myself. If she says yes, I am blessed; if she says no I am equally as blessed because I can get up and fetch it myself'. As far as I was concerned the person was more than welcomed to say no which would not have offended me in the least as I was, as I stated before capable of doing it myself. I didn't have anything to lose really, so I asked…

“Hi, are you going to the kitchen?”

She responded, “Yes I am, can I get you something?”

Oh yes thank you, some hot water please, do you mind?” I held my teapot out quarter of the way between us poised to pull back in the event she said no.

“No, I don’t mind,” she said.

teapotI handed her my little teapot and off she went. A few minutes later she came back with my teapot filled with hot water. At the door just before she could enter to hand me the teapot of water, she met a few more people by my door (it gets pretty busy which is why I close my door so I can get some work done) who had also stop by to say hello. She handed me the teapot fill with hot water for which I thanked her graciously then to my surprise she proceeded to tell the person standing by the door……

“You see what she have me doing, bringing her hot water, you see how nice I am. I got her a pot of hot water.”

Normally I would have let such a comment pass without acknowledgement but I remembered a few days before the same person was making similar statements about others (which I had recommended she address with the parties involved as i don’t engage in idle gossip) and I realized in that moment, that the kindness was not a genuine kindness but rather a tool by which this person uses to garner attention for performing good deeds. I decided to use the opportunity to put her on notice and perhaps in the interim make her a little conscious of her actions. I stated very calmly and concisely to bring attention to her so-called kindness…

“My grandmother always said, when you perform an act of kindness it is not something you go about advertising to everyone or anyone that will listen in hopes of seeking validation for a good deed performed. If you did not want to bring me the hot water you could have simply said no. I am not offended by the word NO nor would I have been hurt as I was quite capable of getting the water myself I was just so buried under work that I ask you since you were on your way to the kitchen. Had I known it would have been an issue I would not have asked.”

I guess she was embarrassed that I put the spotlight directly on her behaviour in front of the very people she was relaying the tale of "kindness" to because she started stuttering and half laughing, half clearing her throat saying…

“oh, haha, ah… I was only joking.” And she left.

My point….

Honour yourself, if you do not want to do something for someone when asked then say no and don’t do it. Do not say yes and then go around complaining about all your have done to anyone that will listen. By doing so you are further dishonouring yourself in addition to leaving a bad after taste/impression about the content of your character.

Gratitude Moment:

Though momentarily irritated I was glad for the experience (it was enlightening) because in that moment together with the prior experiences she taught me a bit about who she is. This information has made me socially wiser and it has allowed me to set my boundaries as far as she is concerned. Lesson noted and learnt, I was not upset about the incident, just thankful because 'actions speak so much louder than words'.

Mindfulness Thought…

Think before you say yes, and consider yourself in all things.


  1. "Briliantly said….it’s unfortunate for the ones that can not be taken at Face Value"…and wear Masks!!!

  2. She should not have broadcast the action, she seems to be a person of petty character. She should have just said "no" and let it be. However, it’s pretty much socially unacceptable (in America) to say "no" to such a simple task, even when you don’t want to do the task. Most of us, and speaking for myself as well, would probably have a bit of an attitude with the person who answers "no" to a simple task, even when it is something that we can do ourselves. My "island" friends take the same stance as you, however – "what can it hurt to ask?" I’d say that it’s a matter of different cultural ideals. Usually, it’s something that I wouldn’t dare ask another person to do, and they normally not only get an attitude when I say "no", but generally have to reason with me as to why I should do it as it should be no sweat off my back. Certainly that does not speak to you or most people, just the small circle of friends and associates that I have come across. Nice post. Peace.

  3. Wow!
    What great insight and knowledge here!!!!
    You are a contemplate and wise soul, and I am fortunate that you share such things,
    you must be an awesome HR person,
    Thanks for sharing this!
    Hugs from Alaska

  4. It’s very importants to said "YES or NO" to the other person that it need to be carefully thinking in your head first then open in the you big month but you were talking a little things this case is I normally said yes and I would asks you next time for my favotite…
    I’m so simple person that made me easier to deal with other people’LOL!
    Have a great day.

  5. Very interesting post. I always enjoy my time at your space.

    It is good that you brought it to her attention and cleared the air, (I’m not faulting the way you handled it, the behavior needed to be addressed) however, I probably would have mentioned it to her in private. I believe in the principle of praising in public and chastising or criticizing in private.

    Have a great weekend.

  6. i think here, consider self_yes. must do, if you were nearer, i’d say we should go get a pedicure together, lol. be so fun.p.S:grandma who went to get your water oso. sometimes need a little pat. smiles

  7. Amen. She had it coming.

  8. Thanks for sharing! There will always be those that merely do acts of kindness so that they can ring their own chimes so to speak! It is like they are so insecure about their self that they always have to have reaffirmation to validate who they are as a person!

    Be blessed my friend!

  9. Very good post!! For some people it is hard to say no. For me, the older I get, the easier it is to say no. LOL

  10. There is a proverb in my language that the right hand should not know what acts of kindness the left hand does.Such things are done silently without much public attention.
    There are also persons who donate a tubelight to a temple with their name written on it covering the entire space.Drawing a mileage out of kind acts makes it more an advertisement than sincere help

  11. That young lady's reaction is the very reason i don't like asking people for favors. Even the slightest things send some people into a tizzy, where they feel like thy need to brag or that you now owe them something. SMH. You handled it very graciously though :)

  12. Lesson learned! If you want to do something for someone, do it out of the kindness of your heart. Do it because you want to. Don't do it because you want attention from others...or so that people can honor you.

    Thanks for sharing.


  13. @Beth That is very true, i am finding the same thing. I have learnt that NO is not a 4 letter word if you know what i mean.

  14. @KParthasarathi"the right hand should not know what acts of kindness the left hand does." i like that, actually I remember hearing it when I was a child.

  15. @LadyNgo In the past i have allowed the actions of another to dictate how i behave, while I have learnt the lesson of cautiousness, I have also learnt not to put everyone in the same basket and judge them based on anothers action. Now I am mindful but open to seeing people based on their own behavior and I try not to be offended by the word NO

  16. @*Sweetly Broken* My point exactly, do it because you want to not for accolades.

  17. It's not kindness if you're going to shout it on the mountain. I'm glad you gave it to her


  18. Yes it is always better to be frank & forthright( or cut & dry if you please!) & state your mind brutally straight rather than do something reluctantly & unwillingly with a pleasant exterior demeanor.

  19. Incidentally I love that exquisite tea pot of yours :)

  20. @Muse Origins ain't that the truth though, what's wrong with saying no?

  21. @R.Ramakrishnan I prefer it to lies and pretense even when the truth seats me uncomfortably.

  22. Good for you Rhapsody for saying something. Hopefully this person learned a lesson from this and will in the future bemore genuine!

    I hope you had a good weekend my dear. We’ll talk soon!

  23. Your grandmother was indeed a wise woman. It is true that the acts of kindness lose their value when we do it for the sake of appearing kind.. there are others who do acts of kindness only so that they will be praised by the person for whom they did it ( this is slightly different from your colleague who was doing the praising herself!). That again is artificial. Very nice post and a good thought for me to begin the day with.

  24. @Meera Indeed she was thought at times she confused the heck out of my little mind when she spoke in parables and i could not understand its meaning. As i grew older things began to get clear. Some things though I wish i knew its meaning at the time of delivery.


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