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.

A Thought On Unity

There’s a lot of talk currently about how divided we are in the US.  While I think that’s true, I also think there is a lot that still unites us. 

Consider the following things that still unite us with other people:

  • Family
  • Friendships
  • Church and religious beliefs
  • Hobbies
  • Places we work
  • Clubs and affinity groups
  • Colleges and universities we’ve attended
  • Civic groups
  • Volunteer organizations
  • Common goals
  • Neighborhoods
  • Common experiences
  • Countries or states of origin

That’s a good, yet incomplete list!  We don’t realize all the things that bring unity until we pause long enough to consider them.  I’m encouraged by such list. 

Unity doesn’t mean “in total agreement with”.  In fact, we can have unity with someone, even when we don’t agree with them.  For example, you can disagree with a relative, yet still have unity with them as a member of your family. 

Disagreeing, or having differing viewpoints, with someone doesn’t mean we can’t have unity with them.  We’re not required to hate someone and treat them poorly, simply because we don’t agree with them on a specific topc. Why would we sacrifice unity on the altar of disagreement?  Why would we throw out a relationship simply because of differing viewpoint or opinion?  That seems wasteful to me.

When you have a disagreement with a friend, family member, or someone you currently have unity with, remember that you can still be united, even amidst differing opinions or viewpoints.

Unity and disagreement are not mutually exclusive.

Do You Need To Make A Point

Earlier this week I was having a conversation with someone about recent events. At several times during the conversation, I felt like there was a point I could make about what they were saying.  Fortunately, I decided not to, and just listened to where they were coming from.  In that circumstance, I think I made the right choice.

Speaking from my own observations and experienced, it seems like people are all over the spectrum with regard to what they think, how they’re dealing with the current myriad issues and how they’re being impacted by those issues.  There are so many opinions, world-views and stressors on people, and so many different ways people are handling them, that it’s unlikely you’ll find someone on the exact same place on the spectrum as you are.  I certainly haven’t.  As such, in our effort to make a point, we could easy turn a conversation into a divisive exchange without even meaning to.

I think it would serve us well to know when the time to make a point is, and when it would be more appropriate to compassionately listen to someone in order to better understand where they are coming from.

May we continually be able to discern which response is appropriate for the conversations we find ourselves in.

How Important Is It

Good health, education, family, relationships, a growing faith, personal development, financial security, social connections.  Most of us would agree that these are important thing, but how can we tell if we truly believe these things are important?  We can tell by whether or not we’re willing to commit our resources to them.

If we say good health is important, yet we don’t set aside time to regularly exercise, then how important is good health to us… really?  Suppose we say saving for the future is important, but we don’t put any of our money in a retirement vehicle.  Our actions would seem to contradict what our mouth is saying.  We may also believe that our marriage, or other significant relationship, is extremely important, while at the same time failing to give this relationship our time and best effort.  Is it then, really that important to us?

Where there is a lack of committed resources, there is a lack of importance.

Just because we don’t commit our resources doesn’t mean these things are no longer important.
They still are.  Our lack of committed resources only underscores that they are not important to us.

What’s important to you?  Are you committing your resources to it?  In reality, that will be a significant indicator of how important you think it is.

Signaling

What does each of these items have in common?

  • A car’s blinker
  • A rattling rattlesnake (I experienced this just last month!)
  • Outstretched arms and a smile

They are all signals that communicate something to those in the area.  A car’s blinker signals the driver is about to make a turn.  A buzzing rattlesnake signals that it feels threatened and wants you to move away.    Open arms and a smile almost always signals that you’re about to get a hug!

Every day we encounter and respond to multiple signals, quite often without even being aware of them.  In fact, I think that we’re often not aware of what signals we’re actually sending to others.

Consider the following:

If we… We are likely signaling…
Have our headphones or earbuds in… We aren’t interested in interacting with others or don’t want to be disturbed.

 

Are focused on our smartphone when we’re in the presence of others… There’s something more important, or more interesting, than what we’re involved in right now.

 

Look someone in the eye and ask questions when talking with them… We are interested in them and what they’re talking about.

 

Say “Hi” to someone we know when we see them… We noticed them and that they are important enough to us to say “Hello”.

 

Smile… We are friendly and approachable.

 

Think about what you’re regularly signaling to those around you.  Do those signals accurately reflect the message you want to send or the person you want to be?

Let’s work at being aware of the signals were sending those around us and, where applicable, consider signaling something more positive.

Said No One

“I wish I had spent more time on my smart phone.”   ~no one on their deathbed…EVER!

Every day I observe people who spend significant time on their smart phones while ignoring those around them, even when those around them are family or friends.  That always makes we  wonder, “What on your smart phone is so exciting that it causes you to willingly ignore those right in front of you?”

The thought of our last days on earth tend to bring into focus what’s really important to us.  Usually, what we say is most important are those closest to us.  It is often these people that we would like to spend our last days on Earth with.   I say, “Why wait until our last days?  Why don’t we put down our devices and start connecting with those people NOW, before it’s too late.”

This may cause you to miss a few social media posts or spend less time playing your favorite game on your smart phone, but isn’t that worth it?

Hopefully, it is.

Covering the Basics

 

So which would you rather experience from an individual or an organization:

Column A   Column B
Someone who goes above and beyond what they said they’d do.

 

-Or-

Someone who says, “I’ll take care of that” and doesn’t follow through.
Someone who shows they appreciate your business through actions and words.

 

-Or-

Someone who responds to each of your questions with, “HUH?”
Someone who teaches you about their product or service and invites your questions and then answers them.

-Or-

Someone who shows up 40 minutes late for an appointment (without even calling to let you know they’d be late) and also smelling of alcohol.

 

Let me guess.  You’d rather experience Column A, right?  Yeah, me too!

It seems to me like doing the items in Column A and NOT doing the things in Column B are the basics of doing business, or even relating with another human being.  However, I’m amazed from my own experience (I’ve recently experienced each item in both columns) how many people don’t have a grasp on the necessity of covering these basics in a business setting.  I find it frustrating… and also encouraging.

I find it frustrating for obvious reasons, but I’m encouraged, because if there are so many people NOT covering the basics, I can very easily stand out, in a positive way, if I make sure I’m covering the basics in my interactions with others.  And so can you!

Covering the basics in our interactions with others looks like:

  • Doing what we say we will do.
  • Presenting ourselves well in appearance, language, and attitude.
  • Looking people in the eye when talking with them.
  • Being present and engaged with the person you’re with (Put the smartphone away!)
  • Being courteous and respectful of the other person.

It feels to me like covering the basics is a secret competitive advantage whether you’re in business, applying for a job, or just connecting with another person.

Let’s take advantage of this secret and make sure we’re covering the bases in our interactions with others.

Keeping Our Word

“When you promise a kid something, you’d better do it. They take it seriously.”   ~Unknown

When I came across this quote recently, I was reminded of a nephew of ours.  Last year when my wife and I went to visit him and his family, he mentioned a specific hike that he’d like to do the next time we came to town.  I told him that next time we were in town, we would do the hike together.

We’ll be going to visit him this summer and I’m already planning on doing this hike with him.  It’s going to be a fun time!

It’s not just kids that notice when we don’t keep our word.  Adults notice too.

Making promises or committing to something is easy.  Following through on those promises requires more from us than mere words.  It requires not only action, but a mindset that our words have value and that when we commit to something we’ll follow through. To do so, or not, says something about our word and our character.

Let’s be aware of the promises we make.  If we make a promise, to a child or another adult, let’s commit to following through.  Otherwise, refrain from making promises we know we won’t keep.

It’s Happening Now

This week I saw the following statement on someone’s T-shirt:  “Enjoy it because it’s happening now”.

I love this timely reminder!

With the beginning of a new year, it’s common to focus on goals and what we plan on doing in the upcoming weeks and months of 2017.  While looking ahead and planning are indeed both important endeavors, it’s equally important that they not occur at the expense of enjoying the good things we’re experiencing in the present moment.

It seems to me that we create our history, our memories, our relationships, and even cement our legacies by how we choose handle what’s happening to us in each moment.

What kind of memories are we creating when we’re overly focused on the future?  What kind of relationships are we creating when we’re too distracted slow down and connect with the people we love and care about?  How will we be remembered by the people with whom we have the pleasure of crossing paths with?  Will they feel like we were looking over their shoulders to see what was next, or will they feel like we actually cared about and were interested in them?

Once gone, a present moment cannot be recaptured.  We can’t go back and extract enjoyment we left on the table from a moment that has already passed.  We must be mindful to enjoy what’s happening right now.

 

Words

Would you ever walk around deliberately throwing pointed darts at people, hitting them with a club, or punching them in the gut? Of course not!  In fact, if we did, we’d likely get arrested!  Yet everyday people are equally, if not more, careless with the words they choose to launch at others.

Words are interesting because they don’t have any preference on how or for what purpose they are used.  They are amoral and only become positive or negative based solely on how we choose to wield them.

Look at the contrast between the attributes of positive and negative words:

Positive Words Negative Words
Encouraging Discouraging
Affirming Tearing down
Loving Hateful
Caring Hurtful
Compassionate Condemning
Healing Crushing
Life saving Hopeless
Enduring Enduring

 

Our words have an impact on people, especially on those closest to us.  And though they can be positive or negative, they are often not soon forgotten.

This underscores the importance of the awareness we should possess regarding the words we use and how we’re treating others with them.  Are we being careless with our words or are we using them to encourage and edify others?  If we could see a visual representation of the words we’re delivering to others would they resemble sticks, darts, clubs, and stones, or would they look more like a smile, a pat on the back, a high-five, and a hug?

We do have a choice regarding the words we use.  They leave our lips wrapped in our intentions.  Let’s intention to deliver positive words that bless others versus cursing them.  When we do, we’ll likely notice that the words we receive from others are kind and positive as well.