There is no benefit to exclusion

by Younas Chaudhary

Growing up in a village in rural Pakistan, where there were hardly any schools, I saw exclusion more than acceptance. My first experience of being excluded came early in grade school because my mother made me wear a clean shirt, trousers, and shoes. My classmates, mostly from the village, called me a “city boy,” or “shehri babu”. As an outcast in a class of thirty-plus without friends, I could not relate with the rest of the children, most of whom did not have good shoes or clean clothes.

Younas Chaudhary

This kind of segregation continued as I grew up. By middle school, a teacher had already excluded me by bluntly saying I would reach nowhere. A few classmates and even teachers often bullied me which was quite common in my era. Thankfully, my college life was a relief as I had good friends.

My next experience with being excluded was not too far away. I passed a grueling entrance test and joined the Pakistan Army Academy in Kakul. However, a few months later, I was discharged from the army without any explanation. I was not given any reason and I carried that sadness for several months until my departure to Canada.

Arriving in Canada in 1973, being excluded started with my first job. As I was the only brown guy in a metal fabrication welding shop, my coworkers treated me like an alien. During lunch, they would joke about my difficulty speaking English and my food habits. I used to bring roti (leavened bread) for lunch but started making turkey baloney sandwiches to fit in, thinking this would make me feel less excluded. However, as the days passed and my English improved, I became happier and more confident.

My life changed quickly in June 1979 when I arrived in Chanute, Kansas scouting for oil and gas leases. One day, my neighbor, a middle-aged white lady arrived at my door with a freshly baked cake in her hand. “We want to welcome you to our neighborhood,” she said. I was shocked as I had not seen such hospitality even in the communal, clannish, tightly knit society that I came from!

Chanute was inclusive and so were its people. A gentleman named Leo gave me my first leg up in the oil and gas business, connecting me to several of his friends who wanted to lease their lands for oil drilling. Soon, trust developed, and the feeling of inclusion made me feel that I was one of them. Local people invited me to their homes, to churches, and offered me opportunities to network and start leasing their oil and gas leases.

Over the years I have learned through many different experiences that kindness, fairness, positive dealing, and inclusion work much better for everyone than exclusions. Our positive attitude determines the level of inclusivity we offer toward others.

Humility makes us inclusive and makes us understand why someone should not be left out of a conversation just because they are less educated, do not have money, have a different skin color, or cannot speak English well. 

As human beings, all of us want to feel included, not excluded. Excluding people will make that person feel undervalued and under-appreciated. The truth is that anyone who feels excluded or unwelcome is going to leave. Simply put, exclusion will rob you of good employees and good friends.

I assure you, a little bit of empathy, positiveness, and a desire to be inclusive on your part will go a long way in helping others, reducing your own blood pressure and you will sleep well. Blessings!


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.

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