So, picture this:
Scenario 1: You’re in a meeting – at work, at church, with the team with which you volunteer. The team now needs to make a decision and everyone else is wrong. You know they’re wrong and you’re beginning to seethe. After all, how many times before have they gotten it wrong when you were telling them that they were going the wrong way? They didn’t listen and you had to come in afterwards and correct the situation.
Scenario 2: You’re at home, with your significant other and well, let’s just say that you know you’re right. After all, they never get it right. You talk and talk and talk. I suppose, this is yet another time when you’ll just have to prove that you’re right. Sigh! Here we go again!
Scenario 3: For what must be the nth time, you’re telling your child how to do something. In annoyance, you wonder, was I like this when I was that age? I’m sure I didn’t get it wrong this many times. After all, I don’t recall my mother/father having to have this conversation with me. Eventually, in annoyance, you just stop the child dead in his/her tracks and you take over the job.
If none of these scenarios sounds familiar to you, I’m sorry to have wasted your time. Please move on to whatever else you have to do. If, on the contrary, these scenarios sound familiar to you, think, how did they end for you? What was the impact of your response on your relationship with the other persons involved? Perhaps you chose not to respond, but in your mind, you had all manner of unkind thoughts about the other person(s) involved. Going forward, you’ve decided to withhold all thought and input, because ‘they don’t listen to me anyway!’.
I’ll share with you, I’ve been in each of these situations before: with colleagues or friends, with a significant other and also with my children. I could feel the throbbing of my blood vessels as I tried to keep it bottled in, so that the words came out in a way that preserved the peace. Dare I say, though, that with blood vessels throbbing, I don’t know that any words uttered at that point could ever preserve the peace. With blood vessels throbbing, I don’t know that I would have been doing much listening to the other’s perspective. I don’t know that I would have been trying to view the situation from the other’s perspective. I don’t know that I would have been allowing that person to just be him/herself. I don’t even know that I would have been displaying the virtues that make for peace.
And do you know what? That’s where we get it so terribly wrong. We’re so bent on making our point known because we’re the only one who gets it, or this is how we were taught to do something, so we can’t imagine any other way to do it. Sometimes, in our passion or conviction for the way things should be done, we exclude those who see things differently, we make them feel unwelcome or we turn our backs to them.
My friends, before it gets to the point where we feel like the cheese standing alone because ‘no one else gets it’, let’s pause for a moment. Let’s stop for a moment and just listen to the other person. Let’s let the other person just be. Let’s even observe for a moment. Let’s seek meaningfully to work together towards our objectives, even if the other person has another way to get there. After all, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, isn’t there?
Remember, the beauty of the world is not in our similarity, but rather, in our diversity. Let’s learn to embrace it.
Over the coming week, why don’t you challenge yourself – dare yourself to learn the other person’s way and see what joy and peace there might be when we no longer need to be right.
I’m sure in so doing, you’ll find much love, peace and joy!