In the Game of “No, You First . . . .”

In the Game of “No, You First . . . .”

Have you ever played that ping-pong game of

“No, you first”

                              “No, you take it”

                                                             “No, you choose”?

If you’re a “nice” person, you lose.  Everybody stops before you.

They shrug their shoulders, smile, and say, “OK.” And they take the last seat. Eat the last brownie. Decide which movie to watch. . . (Braveheart, again?)

Stop being surprised. You volunteered. They merely stopped the “Russian-roulette of niceness” game before you.

Rather than being slightly offended, figure out why you play that game.  Is it an intentional gesture of generosity or habitual social response? If you really don’t care about the movie or want to them to have the last brownie, then you won’t be irritated.  But if there is a whiff of needing to please or wanting to be perceived as magnanimous, that’s when you’ll be wishing they’d gone one more round of the “no, you” game.

Life is all about grace—God’s good gifts to you as well as through you. He may mean to give you a good gift which you give away.


Like a hot-air balloon ride.

When I worked at an advertising agency, one of my accounts was a hot-air balloon manufacturer. One day they gave free rides with the thought that we’d better promote what we experienced. There were more people than spaces. Without thinking, I did the “no, you” game with a young design intern. She didn’t go even to the second round and I watched from the red dirt as she floated off into the sunset.

It’s been many years and I’ve never had another chance to ride in a hot-air balloon. What if that had been God’s customized gift to me and I “gamed” it to someone else without thinking?

So, in this “Year of Not Being Nice,” I’ve started pausing before playing the “no, you” game. As two of us intersect at one choice or object, I try to consider what I really want (something nice people have a hard time doing) as well as my hyper-awareness of the other person. A life of intentional kindness and generosity is beautiful. Sometimes, we need to realize that it is intended for ourselves as well as for others.

balloonsSo if someone offers me another hot-air balloon ride, I’ll just say thanks as I climb into the seat intended for me.


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