Imagine you’re in a workshop of one sort or another, and the facilitator in front of the room asks: “OK, anyone here who considers him- or herself a difficult person… please raise your hand!” How many hands are going up? You guessed it… in virtually every case, zero. We do not consider ourselves to be difficult. Other people do not consider themselves to be difficult. So who are these difficult people? Where are they?
As we know, it’s all a matter of perspective.
I'm pleased to share with you some suggestions that may serve us as we work with and deal with the wide variety of human beings that are part of our world. Remember – we are each unique observers. We each truly “see things” differently… and these differences have nothing to do with our retinas!
What’s really going on here is this: we are different interpreters, different explainers. We interpret differently, we explain the same events differently, we make meaning differently. This isn’t good or bad, right or wrong… it just is.
The Chilean neurobiologist Humberto Maturana and many others state that there’s nothing in the human biology that allows us to know “how things are”… all we know, and all we can know, is “how things are, for us.” Understanding and accepting this – as well as the fact that you also do not have privileged access to The Truth, you also are interpreting and explaining in your own unique way – creates a context in which we don’t automatically make others wrong simply because they interpret or explain differently than we do.
It’s a different starting point, a different come-from in our dance with others.
Next - Adopt the belief that nobody ever does anything that they themselves see as wrong. That is, given the way they interpret, given the way they explain, given their standards in area X or area Y, given their beliefs in area A or area B… they come to conclusions that they see as totally logical, completely normal, utterly OK, very "right."
Think about it - for each of us, as we go about our day seeking to produce certain types of results - there's no such thing as a mistake, in the present tense! That is, each of us sees our actions as completely in line with the results we are seeking to bring about. Otherwise, we wouldn't be doing what we're doing! Now, one minute or one year or 20 years later, we may look back and realize "Oh, that was a big mistake..." - but we don't see this "now". We don't see this in the moment we're doing it.
The opening that these orientations provide is to have new conversations, ones in which we can explore “how did you go from observation A to belief B in such a different way than I went from same observation A to belief C?”
We can enter into genuine dialogue, which is a type of conversation focused on deepening the level of shared understanding (vs. coming to some agreement or conclusion). In a space of respect and safety, we can begin to understand more about the often-unspoken standards and beliefs of those close to us… and in the process, deepen relationships and open new possibilities together.