It Makes Sense To Them

Brace yourself, because I’m about to drop a news flash!  Ready?  Not everyone shares the same viewpoints as me.  Whoa, that’s huge!  Here’s an even bigger news flash… not everyone shares the same viewpoints as you either.  BOOM!!

You’re probably sarcastically thinking, “Thanks for dropping the obvious on me, Scott.  I had no idea!”  If that’s your thought, then you’d be right; we all obviously know that not everyone agrees with our viewpoints and opinions.  Yet while we know this to be true, I think we sometimes forget that a person’s viewpoint or opinion, which may seem strange, or even wrong to us, makes perfect sense to them.

There is a reason why a person thinks the way they do, or believes what they believe.  Their viewpoints are likely shaped by their own unique life experiences, which are probably not the exact same life experiences that we’ve had. 

Ok, that seems pretty obvious too.  So why do I bring it up?

There’s so much divisiveness now.  It seems when we encounter someone with a differing viewpoint, we feel we a need to defend our position.  We’re eager enter into a debate and convince the other person that their viewpoint is wrong, and if they had even a slight modicum of intelligence, they would adopt our position.  We already know where that usually leads: more discord, animosity, hurt feelings, and possibly fractured relationships.  I propose another response to differing viewpoints.

What if, the next time we’re confronted with an opposing viewpoint, instead of immediately entering into a debate, we try to genuinely find out why the person holds that viewpoint?  Not with toxic accusations or labeling, but with a genuine curiously and non-inflammatory questions.  What if we cared enough to see beyond the differences, and to see the person and their experience that lead them to the viewpoints they hold?  

My guess is, that once we’ve taken the time to understand someone, we’ll have a better comprehension of why they think the way they do.  Who knows?  We might even change our own viewpoint in the process.

How We See Others

If you’re looking for a feel-good movie this holiday season, I recommend you check out Wonder.  It’s a story about the challenges of a 5th grade boy who was born with some birth defects that resulted in a scarred and unusual looking face.  Beyond his struggles in school, Wonder is a great story about the capacity we all have to choose what we see in those around us.

What made this movie so touching was how a few of the kids at his school began to look past this boy’s disfigured face and see the positive attributes he possessed.  Once they focused beyond his appearance, they soon realized that he looked less like a freak and more like a friend.

While we may not be 5th graders any longer, we still have the choice in how we see those around us.   Let’s be aware of the opportunities we have to see beyond the appearances of those around us, and to focus on the things that matter, like character and kindness.  Because wouldn’t we like to be seen the same way by others?

26 Tiny Building Blocks

I’m blown away by the English alphabet!  From these 26 tiny characters, these building blocks, come great works like the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, or the “I Have a Dream” speech.  Here’s what’s most extraordinary to me:  we all have access to these building blocks and we get to choose what we create with them, simply by how we arrange them.

A colleague of mine once told me, “Paper will just lay there and let you write anything on it you want.”  Letters of the alphabet are the same way.  They don’t care how you arrange them or what you create with them.  They’re not good or bad.  They’re just available to us to say or express anything we want.

They can be arranged to form something great or to express love and gratitude toward someone we care about.  They can also be arranged to spread hate and fear.  The choice on how we arrange these building blocks is totally up to us.

The next time you have the opportunity to use these building blocks, whether it’s writing a letter, sending an email, or making an update on social media, think about what you’re creating.  Is your arrangement of the 26 building blocks something that will add value to others and lift them up?  Are you creating something that you would be proud to have your name on next week, month, or year?  Does your arrangement make the world, or does it darken it just a little more?

With access to a tool as powerful as the alphabet comes great responsibility in how we handle it.  Let’s be aware of what we’re building and choose to arrange these building blocks for purposes of good, rather than to harm.

How to Receive More Kind Words

We all like hearing kind words from people we know.  It doesn’t matter if the words are spoken or written, there’s something about the genuine kindness of another person’s words to us that leave us feeling joyful and happy.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to increase the frequency of kind words you receive from others?  In fact, there is!  All you have to do is begin the habit of doing the following:  generously communicate kind words to others.

It’s so simple, yet so true!

Consider this:

If you want:  Then:
More phone calls from friends and family… Make more phone calls to friends and family
To receive more encouraging emails… Send out more kind and encouraging emails
More friendly conversations with people… Speak to people with kind and friendly words
More smiles from people… Smile more

If you would like more kindness in your life, start adding kindness into the lives of others.  It doesn’t matter what medium you use.  People are pleased to receive kind words whether they come in:

  • Phone calls
  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Social media posts
  • Hand written notes
  • Voice mails
  • Spoken words

It really is that simple.  If you want to receive kind words from others, you simply have to begin the habit of regularly speaking kind words to others.

Why not start today?

Missed the Mark

Pets in stores.  Does it seem like more people are bringing their pets into stores and restaurants lately, or is it just me that has noticed an increase in this type of behavior?

Every time I see someone in a grocery store or restaurant with a pet, I find myself wondering, “Can’t they leave their pet in the car or at home for 30 minutes?!  What’s wrong with them that they think they’ re entitled to bring their pet anywhere they want, regardless of health laws or common societal courtesies?!”  I guess it’s just a pet peeve of mind.  (Please excuse the pun.)

During the recent Labor Day weekend, my wife and I were at Wallowa Lake in Joseph Oregon, where we rode the tram to the top of Mt. Howard and did some hiking.  The views were breathtaking!

WallowaLakeTram

As we were standing in line to ride the tram back down, I saw a lady ahead of us in line that had her small dog in her coat.  There was clear signage stating that pets were not allowed on the tram.  As I noticed her I could hear myself thinking, “C’mon lady!  Do you really have to bring your dog up here?  You couldn’t be apart from Fido for a couple of hours?  Really?!”

Every time I saw her and her dog I had similar thoughts.  The primary thought being, “What’s wrong with people these days?”  Unbeknownst to me, I was about to find out.

Each tram car hold 4 people, and since there were a lot of folks in line, the tram staff was doing their best to make sure each car was as full as possible.  Since it was just my wife and I in our group, I was sure we’d get paired up with another group for the ride down, which is great with me, because I like talking to people.

Upon approaching the front of the line, the tram attendant said to us, “You’ll be riding down with this person” as he motioned to… (you already know who)… the lady and her dog!  “OH GREAT!!”  I can’t say I was thrilled, but what do you do, fake a dog allergy?  So the 4 of us got in and began the 10 minute ride down the mountain.

Once in the tram, the lady opens her coat and lets the dog out.  I immediately notice the dog is wearing a doggie jacket that says, “Emotional Support Animal.”  Huh.  So this wasn’t just some regular pet.

A few second into the ride, I strike up a conversation with the lady and find out she grew up in the area and was back visiting her father.  As the 4 of us were riding along, we talked about where she currently worked, the area we were visiting, and what it was like growing up there.  It was a great conversation and I was actually glad we were sharing the ride together.

About half way down the mountain, the lady shared with us that on September 5th, 2014 (1 year and 1 day prior to our collective tram ride) that the state police had showed up at her work to inform her that her husband had been killed in a traffic accident.  She had come home for the Labor Day weekend to visit her dad during the 1 year anniversary of her husband’s death.

Holy crap!!  I wasn’t expecting that.  In a split second I realized that this wasn’t a person who felt entitled to take her dog anywhere she pleased, but rather a grieving, hurting human being.

I felt like a jerk for the previous judgements I had made about her without even knowing her story.

As the ride progressed, I asked how she was doing and how the previous year had been for her, but mostly, I just listened to her story.

After we got to the end of the ride and said our farewells, I thought about how quickly I had sized up this lady with her dog and come to a snap judgement based on the little information I had.  I was amazed, and ashamed, at how far off my judgement had been.

I still don’t think that people should bring their non-service-animal pets into grocery stores and restaurants.  However, my recent interaction on the tram caused me to think about how quick I am to judge others when I don’t even know their story.  Moving forward, I’m working to adjust my thinking toward others to be less judgmental and more inquisitive.  Instead of simply making snap judgements, I’m trying to also ask myself, “What might they be dealing with?  Is there a grief or burden they might be carrying?  Could they use a kind word or some encouragement from me instead of judgement?”

I believe that there are occasions for snap judgements, but I’m also reminded that there are far more occasions where compassion and understanding is the better approach.  If the situation with the lady and her dog had been reversed, and it was me that had lost a spouse, I know I would have appreciated compassion and understanding far more than judgement.

What Do People Think

What Do People Think When They Hear You Coming

~Joni  Eareckson Tada

What do you think when you ponder that question?  Are you a value-add in that people are glad to see you and your presence is welcome, or is your presence seen as something that is an unwelcomed interruption?

If your answer to that question left you feeling slightly uncomfortable, and you’d like to improve the likelihood that you arrival will be seen as a welcomed event, try practicing the following suggestions during your interactions with others:

  • Take an interest in others and what they’re interested in, instead of focusing on your own interests.
  • Be kind to people and show them grace, because we may not know what they’re going through.
  • Look for the best in others instead of the worst, because we tend to find what we’re looking for.
  • Offer sincere praise or appreciation; most people probably don’t get enough of either.
  • Give them you undistracted attention; by doing so you’ll communicate that they’re important to you.

We all want to be viewed as a value-add, and someone whose presence is appreciated and valued.  The best way to cause this is to value others and communicate that by showing them kindness, appreciation, attention, and respect.

Look for opportunities to put these suggestions into practice starting today.  When you do, people we will look forward to your arrival.