(This post first appeared 9/7/2012 in Fiery Heart Blog on Blogger)
Many of our hurts are imaginary and have no basis in fact. We misconstrue so many motives of what people say and don't give a second thought to what they actually mean. We have the tendency to judge first and ask questions later. Mostly, I believe, because to ask someone what they actually mean, might show that we are wrong and clearly point out that the one with the problem is us! Or it might mean that we have to forgive someone for unintentionally hurting us, when we are not willing to let it go. These are perception problems based on our own hurts.
Communication is so important! When we honor the other person by thinking the best of them, being honest with them about how we are perceiving the situation, we will often find that what we thought was going on was nothing like the reality. The slight you felt may have had nothing to do with you and you may be caught in the fallout of someone’s bad day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the opportunity to encourage someone, in that moment, rather than add to their burden? Change your perspective and you just may change someone else’s life!
Take the story of the teenaged young man, Tom, and another young man, Rick, both freshmen in high school. Rick was new to the neighborhood and Tom did not know him well at all. They did not have any classes together and Rick always seemed a little standoff-ish. One day, they were getting off the bus after school. Tom drops his books on the steps right in front of Rick. Tom bends down to pick up his books and Rick, not really paying attention, trips over Tom and Tom sprawls out of the bus.
To Tom, it felt like Rick had just kicked him in the rear and Tom was mad! Everything was going wrong that day already and now this! Rick’s response didn’t help either!
“Oh. Sorry,” he said as he walked down the road toward his house. Tom had a choice right then, he could perceive that as a sarcastic remark and an intentional kick or he could believe the best about Rick. Fortunately, Tom chose to believe the best about Rick. As he picked up his books, Tom hurried along to catch up with Rick.
“Hey, Dude! Did you do that on purpose?”
“No. I said sorry”, Rick replied in a monotone. Because Tom was believing the best about Rick, this sullen response needed more clarification.
“Are you ok? It’s Rick, right?”
“Yeah, just having a tough day. I guess I wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t mean to trip over you. Are you ok?” Rick replied with a little more expression in his voice.
Tom laughed. “I’m fine. It’s not the first time I have fallen out of the bus although it may have been the most epic!”
This time Rick smiled and said, “I’m glad you’re not hurt!”
Tom then engaged Rick in conversation as they walked the rest of the way to his house. They exchanged phone numbers and made plans to shoot some hoops later on that evening after dinner, which they did. They ended up becoming friends and Rick even went on to become the class valedictorian.
As Rick gave his speech that graduation day 4 years later, he told the story of that first day he met Tom. Rick had just moved there with his mom and younger sister after seeing his dad convicted of beating his mom and molesting his sister and then to make it worse, his dad had committed suicide before they could get him to the jail. The move to the new town was hard on all of them and no one really talked at his house anymore. He was having trouble making friends at school and that day, Rick had been writing his own suicide note, and was re-reading it as they were getting off the bus. That is why he hadn’t seen Tom stop.
Tom’s gesture of friendship right at that moment was enough to give Rick a little bit of hope that things could be somewhat normal for him and he went home and put the note away. By the end of his freshman year, he had burned the note. Rick went on to say that if Tom had gotten mad or even said nothing, he would not have been standing there giving the speech.
Let that sink in a minute. Our choices to see the best in people may not always have that kind of dramatic ending, but you never know. One day a choice you make might save someone’s life! Maybe even your own.
While this was just a story based on urban legend, your next encounter with someone having an off day, or just misunderstanding their own circumstances, could be pivotal in their life! Choose to see the best in people. Respond to them with honor. Listen to what they are saying, not just to their words but to their tone of voice and their body language.
The above article portrays my heart for others. Often the first perspective that requires adjusting is our own. Changing perspective begins with creating a space where trust can grow. Conversational Intelligence,provides the tools to build trust, and impact your life, your family, your business, your community, and the world, in a powerful way.
Change your conversations. Change the World!