My son was aged 7 at the time and most of his friends would pop in at our place to play indoor games. I would sometimes check in on them and provide snacks. This was my favorite activity as the children loved the treats and I was happy to see their smiling faces.
On this particular day it was cream biscuits every one’s favorite and immediately all of them made a beeline for them. Everyone except this one child. The rest were gobbling the cookies at a fast pace and soon there would be nothing left for him so I went over and offered the plate to him.
He shook his head.
‘Have …’ He was probably shy.
‘ I don’t want it.’ I was non-plussed a kid refusing cream biscuits it was a bit difficult for my brain to fathom such a happening.
‘Have a little…’ I was persuasive.
He was stuck on his refusal though, his body language now turning stiff.
‘Okay just 1 piece. Please.’ I was insistent now.
My son was watching this scene the whole time and signaled me to come aside ‘You are forcing him and forcing is troubling the other person and not good!’
‘What! forcing!!!’ I was aghast. My ego rolled over and fell. It was hurt. Ouch!
Excuse me…here I was just trying to be the good host and this 7-year-old tells me that my little persuasion meant forcing. How could that be forcing? My train of thoughts had kicked off but my son and his friends had happily resumed their play. Specially my son after dropping this bomb on me.
I was having trouble accepting that my insistence meant trouble to someone. I was into my analysis mode. A little persuasion was normal, isn’t it? In fact, some people like the pampering, persuasion and attention they receive as a guest I thought. And now a little child was telling me differently.
The thought had been pickling in my mind. A few days later Mona called ‘Let’s meet up again. Will you come over to my parent’s place?’ Mona was my childhood friend who had settled in a different city. She would visit her parents once a year and we would catch up.
She had come to town 2 weeks back and we had already met. So, my quota of time allotted to her was over. Plus, this week my schedule was hectic so there was no chance for meeting again.
‘Sorry dear …can’t make it.’
‘Please try…’ She insisted.
‘It’s impossible right now…’
‘We will have fun again…I will prepare your favorite sweet. Please!’ She was into persuasion mode.
This was so not fair…my favorite sweet ‘My schedule is hectic this week …please understand.’ I requested.
‘Pretty please!’ She insisted.
I was exasperated. And suddenly the dots connected. Was this what my son meant the other day?
Mona loved me and wanted to spend time with me but wasn’t her persuasion troublesome for me right now? She wanted something that I was not ready to give.
‘Sorry!’ I was firm.
‘Okay!’ She was cross with me I knew.
‘I will call you later.’ I hung up. I would make up to her I knew. This small incident had helped me learn my lesson though. A little persuasion is fine but is it our intention to force or trouble the other person. Of course not! But unawares sometime we may cross the thin line from persuasion to coercion.
Next day the children came to play again. I offered the snacks and just told them to have as much as they wanted to and left it at that.
Since then, I have made it a point to clearly tell my guests to help themselves and enjoy the food and leave it at that. No persuasion…