I am a very trusting person.
One of my strengths in this area is that I trust people when they tell me something.
One story, where this strength helped, was during an activity during one of my first courses in graduate school.
We were put into groups, and we were given a problem. We were encouraged to figure out what was wrong, come up with steps to solve it, and try to figure out the origin of the issue.
The story was about a boy who wasn’t listening. His parents would tell him what to do, he didn’t listen.
His teachers would tell him what to do, he still did not listen.
There was a teacher meeting together with the parents to talk about what were the supports in his life that were missing that would help him become more able to listen.
As we were brainstorming, which is a very specific task where all ideas are good, no feedback is given about the ideas, and everyone keeps coming up with ideas for a certain amount of time, I made a suggestion.
‘What if he can’t hear?
What if it isn’t that he isn’t listening, but that he cannot hear what is being said’.
In this instance, that was what was happening,
A child could not hear, and therefore was not listening.
I have talked previously about my trip to France in 1990.
We went to France and Switzerland, and were located for about 2 weeks at a camp near enough to visit Lyon, France; walk into Switzerland and get some chocolate; and to visit the Peugeot Plant.
We were there to get to know each other as people, and were all careful to state to each other that we did not represent each other’s countries.
At the time, Europe was not known as Europe as much as it was known as individual countries. In France you paid with Francs, and in Switzerland it depended on what part of the country you were in to determine both the primary language spoken and I believe the currency.
My friend from Denmark ‘squished her food’. As we watched her, she was quick to say that smooshing all of her food together is typical in Denmark. She had a very specific reason for doing it, but I do not remember what it was.
My friend from Bath in England did not like carbonation in her coke. She was quick to say that this was not a Bath issue, and this did not represent England, but she did not like carbonation and she suggested that we all try it. I have to admit, a flat coke does have its merits.
Two boys from France and one of the leaders Gregoire, who was also from France, were the hardest to understand.
At that time, people in France were resistant to learning English. As they pointed out, they still spoke English better than we spoke French (my sister and me), but they had an accent that was hard for us to understand.
Those two weeks of learning to communicate, learning about each other, and experiencing the local culture, had a very strong affect on me and my approach to learning about and interacting with others.
If my go-to is to believe someone, then all of the problem solving we do, based on the facts as they are presented, are not me trying to prove that they are lying.
My feeling is we all have different interpretations of the truth, so if your truth is that you were hurt, then lets go with that and work to help you feel less pain.
As people in your life tell you things that you know are not factually true (I call them bad reporters, or say they have ‘bad facts’), think about the payoff.
What is it about telling this misrepresentations of the truth or facts that is helping them gain? How are we promoting this by giving a response or feedback?
What can each of us do to help know the difference between ‘this is not your business’, which happens on occasion, and ‘I am misleading you in some intentional way’.
If your strength is pointing out misrepresentations of facts, what population does that work for?
I am best with teens/pre-teens. They tell me something that is not accurate and my response is ‘huh-that seems hard to believe’. I do not disbelieve them, but I do point out the reasons that make their statement hard to believe.
I am second best with building people up who have not treated themselves with the respect that I would like them to.
How do you think about groups of people , whether that be people who speak a different language than you do, people who are developmentally an adolescent, or whether they are people who have lived for many years, who do you connect with?
How can you use that connection to help their connections?
Something to think about.