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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The Power called Gentleness

The Mindset Series: Episode 4

Gentleness is the mildness of action and the quality of being kind.
Fundamentally, gentleness is a mindset and an expression of an emotional state.

Have you ever done something you are not proud of?
Yelled at a colleague in a meeting, forcefully seized an item from a friend, discredited a coworker for selfish gain, or belittled a loved one. In an honest moment, all of us would admit that the acts above are intimately familiar – by commission and or reception. Indeed, the list of ways humans display not-so-gentle behavior is as long as the Nile River. Sadly, when we take the path, we ought not, we might be more prone to excusing and rationalizing our behavior than owning it, apologizing, and growing from our missteps. 

Now, you might be thinking, Aké, save yourself the time and energy! I might display a lapse in judgment occasionally. But I would never lay a finger on another! If I notice any living thing, including a housefly, in my path, I wait for it to meander before proceeding. For this reason, my friends nicknamed me Genteel! 😊 Therefore, how could any of this possibly apply to me?

Let us explore!

The harsh reality

Fortunately, most do not walk about punching others or being punched. Instead, when most disagree, they talk it out or take the less optimal route known as silent treatment. And as we all know, gentleness is not restricted to physical behavior. It is fundamentally an expression of an emotional state and mindset. Sadly, harshness and unkindness, i.e., the opposite of gentleness are displayed way too often! Did you know that according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, over 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the US have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime? – This is a veritably appalling reality that urges us to contemplate how we can infuse gentleness into the fabric of society via our interactions with others.

What is going on – really?

Could the always-late coworker be tardy for a more pronounced reason than a lack of a well-functioning watch? Or could the terse bus driver be experiencing more substantial challenges than rush hour traffic? And could the seemingly unfriendly neighbor be avoiding get-togethers because they are hiding bruised eyes?
Gauging by the statistics above, many of us have heard of, witnessed, or experienced such instances!

Admittedly, like many, I find gentle behavior deeply attractive because it is a subliminal expression of self-control. Of course, being gentle or exhibiting self-control does not guarantee a pain-free existence. However, both minimize wrongdoings by enabling restraint. – Restraint is vital in a world where humans increasingly absolve themselves of blame and take credit for wins. We frequently hear about such instances in the news and documentaries. Also, such behavior is Hollywoodized and portrayed in Lifetime Network channel movies based on true stories, where a man hits his wife for the umpteenth time and attempts to justify his behavior by saying to her: Why do you make me always do this? – This is gaslighting at its best!
Though the term gaslighting has gained popularity recently, the behavior is not new, and the effects are well-known. Importantly, gaslighting, failing to take responsibility, and deflection hurt relationships and the person who commits them!

To better illustrate, I will share a light-hearted story in which the approach shaped the outcome.

A tale or two.

Some time ago, I hopped into my car on a sunny but cold Tuesday afternoon and drove downtown. Like most weekday afternoons, traffic was heavy! On every street, as buses transported busloads of passengers, pedestrians intently headed to their desired destinations!
Like many others, I was in my car heading to a meeting. It was my first appointment with a specific internist, and as she came highly recommended, I was excited to meet her. Unsurprisingly, given my directional challenges, I got lost. 😉 But I did not despair as I felt the destination was nearby. Therefore, I kept my eyes peeled for any sign of her office building. Unfortunately, as soon as I set my eyes on such a sign, I was at a red traffic light and came to a screeching halt! Pleased to be near my journey’s end, I patiently waited for the light to turn green.

Suddenly, a fancy SUV stopped to my right. The driver glanced at me, got out of his car, walked around the front of my car, and stood at my window. Once there, he mentioned that he could not resist approaching and asking for my number. – You may have experienced the same.

A telling response

Politely, I thanked him for the compliment and informed him that I could not oblige. Then, he tried a couple of times to convince me, to no avail. Swiftly, he became offended and said he did not understand how I could deny his request. And I must have been hurt in the past. – As if a scar from a bruise could deter a serious athlete from engaging with their dream team. 😉

As would be expected, I interpreted his response as an attempt to soften the blow by transposing discomfort. Indeed, at that moment, he would have benefitted from one of my all-time favorite quotes: “The mind can be convinced, but the heart must be won.” Hearing his not-so-gentle words and witnessing his change in demeanor, I felt an immense rush of gratitude that I had not entertained his advances. As luck would have it, the light quickly turned green, and as I drove off, I reflected on the wisdom of the word: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.

The mark of Gentleness

On a separate occasion, one cloudy Friday morning, I went to a dealership, and as I was returning to my car, I saw a gentleman returning to his. The gentleman was walking a few steps ahead of me. As he approached his car, he turned around and acknowledged me with a greeting and a smile. Then, without skipping a beat, he politely said, May I get your door for you? Gratefully, I smiled and said, yes, please, thank you! Then, we had a pleasant exchange.

Notably, as he opened my door, he was careful to stand on the opposite side of the door in a non-threatening position. Also, he respected me and himself by ensuring I felt safe receiving or declining his requests. – This is the mark of gentleness!
When a person is gentle, others feel safe accepting or declining their request. Importantly, their actions stem from generosity, with no obligation. – Though they might wish for something, they do not expect anything in return.

Choosing wisely

In the former, the man was offended that I declined his advances and chose to react negatively. However, in the latter, the man displayed gentleness by recognizing that his kind gesture could be unwelcome and behaved respectfully. Specifically, he demonstrated awareness that it was well within my right to accept or decline his request, and neither response would diminish or augment his value. – A powerful and gentle response!
Friend, we frequently make requests of others personally and professionally, as do others of us. Often, though not always, our approach determines the response we get. Sometimes, we hear no, and other times, we hear yes. Beautifully, a no today can become a yes tomorrow. – It often depends on our approach and response.

As we progress in the new year personally and professionally, may we choose the powerful mindset and endearing approach called gentleness.

Until next time!

For you and to you,


Image credit: Pexels | Debadutta



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