Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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I can only see ME!

Rejection Reason #3

Happy October, aka the beginning of year-end festivities and desserts galore!
One thing I love about Fall is you can find anything in the color orange. I have a loony story about this that few can top but let us keep it for another time. 😉

When you first read the title of this piece, which is the third exploration in our series on Why People Say No, you may have mumbled under your breath: Aké, I know someone who should read this because their favorite word is me, and they get under my skin! Many of us have probably thought so of others, and others may have thought the same of us. But of course, we feel it is preposterous for others to think about us in such a cold-hearted manner!

Shining bright lights or casting dark shadows.

I don’t know about you, but I find it ironic how easily we admit that others do not measure up or meet our needs. But we struggle to realize that our frustration might stem from believing that our needs are more important than those of others. – This line of thinking drives one to put themselves first, or as is said in common vernacular, always look out for number one!
Ironically, we are often amazed when one puts the needs of another above theirs. Our hearts fill with awe when we hear that a neighbor or coworker sacrificed their life by running into a burning building to save another. Or we are speechless when we hear that one stayed onboard a sinking vessel to lead others to safety.

Indeed, when one sees beyond themselves and puts others first, they leave us awestruck! Because by so doing, they project light onto others like the dazzling brilliance of an iridescent bulb lights a dark hallway. By the same token, when one minimizes the needs of others and suppresses them to get what they want, they cast a dark shadow and elicit disgust. But what could drive one to behave like this? 

Let us delve into a scenario!

A not-so-quick-stop on a special mission!

On a chilly Monday in October, you drive to your office building because you are tired of working from home in your PJs. 😉 Six hours later, you decide that you have put in a full day of hard labor! To avoid rush hour traffic, you quietly depart from the office, careful not to draw attention to yourself. On your way home, you briefly stop at your neighborhood grocery store to grab dinner. Once you leave your car, you notice a woman standing by the door. By your estimate, the woman is in her early 20s. Also, she is carrying a baby boy who looks severely malnourished and holding a sign that reads: My baby is hungry. Please give me money. Anything helps! 

Instantly, you recall that you’ve seen her before at that exact spot by the grocery carts wearing the same tattered light blue dress. As usual, you feel sorrowful for her demise, but tonight, you are on a special mission called Me first and only Me! Also, you plan to fulfill the mission by lying on your couch like broccoli, chowing down like there is no tomorrow, and watching Monday Night Football. So, you ignore her!

ME first and only me.

Once in the store, you hurriedly make a beeline for the Frozen Food aisle! While grabbing your favorite TV dinner, i.e., frozen lasagna, you think: Hmm… I should eat healthier meals. Oh well! Tomorrow, I will do better. Also, I will work from home because the traffic on my commute is unacceptableSatisfied with your plan, you brush off the thought, head to the self-checkout aisle, purchase your dinner, and rush out the other store entrance. – Because you want to avoid an awkward encounter with the young woman begging for money. 

On your way out, you are thrilled to see friendly faces: Jeff and Jessica! Jeff is a caring neighbor in his 50s. Also, he is the president of the Homeowner’s Association. His daughter, Jessica, is 11 years old and is a Girl Scout. Dutifully, they set up a stand, by the other store entrance to sell Girl Scout cookies for her troop. Excitedly, you stop to greet them! Immediately, Jeff launches into a rant about the woman begging for money at the other entrance because she refused to buy Jessica’s Girl Scout cookies! He adds that her cookie sales benefit a great cause and build future leaders for the nation. Therefore, any decent person would eagerly support the cause!

Upon hearing this, what do you think? Specifically, how do you view Jeff? 

You matter. And so do others!

I have a strong hunch that even if you are very fond of Jeff as a neighbor, you would not sympathize with his perspective. Why? Because most would assume a 20-something-year-old mother begging for money does not have the means to purchase Girl Scout cookies. Furthermore, one might conclude that Jeff’s behavior is selfish and unreasonable. Unsurprisingly, this tends to be how we perceive a refusal from one we believe cannot honor a request or meet a need. – We are more gracious and find it easier to accept no when we do not think the other can say yes.

Conversely, when we believe another can honor a request or meet a need but intentionally does not, we often take it personally and feel slighted. But such instances are worth peering into because there is often more to a person than meets the eye. 

Back to Mission ME!

Mission ME is a raging success by your standards because your favorite team won the game, and you thoroughly enjoyed your lasagna. Feeling gutsy, you prolong the festivities by working from home for the rest of the week and avoiding the painful commute on the gridlocked freeway. On Saturday morning, you tend to your garden, and a busybody neighbor rushes over. She is the neighborhood gossip and has much to share! Surprisingly, she mentions that Jeff recently lost his job, contracted a debilitating illness, and is about to lose his home in foreclosure. – The spate of misfortunes led him to lose his wits, and he could only see himself!
How do you feel about Jeff now? Do you feel compassion for him? Or do you think he deserves misfortune as you reflect on his faux pas behavior at the grocery store days earlier?

Indeed, we all face adversity! Though misfortune does not excuse or justify poor behavior, knowing and understanding what another is experiencing enables one to empathize, i.e., put oneself in the position of others, sense their emotions, and imagine how they might think and feel. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/empathy/definition#:~:text=The%20term%20%E2%80%9Cempathy%E2%80%9D%20is%20used,might%20be%20thinking%20or%20feeling 

A simple yet powerful word: WHY

However, developing empathy is not always easy because it requires one to turn their attention from me to you. Additionally, as we know, figuring others out is challenging because the reasons why people do what they do are not always apparent. For this reason, the truth often needs to be sought out. This quest starts with asking the simple question: why, then listening for the response. But what exactly is listening? To explore this pivotal skill, you may read: Hear Beyond Words. Understand Meaning. – BLOG – Culture (akesatia.com)

May we be slower to condemn and quicker to ask and listen!

Until next time!

For you and to you,



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