The Art of Asking

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All too often, the approach we take towards relationships follows a predictable and routine pattern. Over years of learned behavior through successes and failures, we carve out our own unique style. In this, we build a persona through how we see ourselves and through how we interact with others. Through this process, we learn as much about others’ expectations of us as we do about our own expectations of ourselves. We learn what works for us, and what doesn’t. We learn about what we like, and what we don’t. As well, we learn about what others like in us, and what they don’t.

This ongoing act of self-discovery starts early and lasts a lifetime. When acting together in this process, we quietly determine what’s acceptable for us as a group. We establish unspoken rules around social decorum and political correctness that becomes our collective rules of exchange. However, over time when we abide only by these established rules— anchoring ourselves out to who we believe we arewe stop short of exploring new ways to discover who we can be, individually and together.

Recently the rules of relationships have changed. Increasing distance and isolation is becoming the new norm. Strong opinions, differences in perspectives, and contradicting beliefs are more and more visible in how we communicate with one another. These new realities are informing the new rules of exchange. However, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When the rules of the game radically change, radical new strategies become much more reasonable.

In the TED Talk The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer expresses how “Radical Openness” has shaped her ability to connect with complete strangers in deeply meaningful and moving ways. She describes how the courage to ask others for help or kindness is like falling into them with trust. She believes that through the act of compassion for another, we learn more about who we really are and what’s possible for discovering the pieces of who we can be.

Today, consider how an act of radical openness can benefit you. Can employing courage to put yourself in the hands of another, help you break out of routine, and discover a new experience? Try putting yourself aside in all your strength and wisdom to let another demonstrate the strength of their character through an act of selfless compassion. All you have to do is ask.

“From what I’ve seen, it isn’t so much the act of asking that paralyzes us–it’s what lies beneath: the fear of being vulnerable, the fear of rejection, the fear of looking needy or weak. The fear of being seen as a burdensome member of the community instead of a productive one. It points, fundamentally, to our separation from one another.”

– Amanda Palmer

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