Understanding Others Non-Judgmentally

Part of personal (and even spiritual) growth is learning how to understand people, how to see things from a perspective that you never would’ve looked through before, or how to put yourself in a drastically different person’s place (taking into account their personal history, and events in their life).  I think if we’re attune to it, we can continue to grow in this way of being more and more capable of understanding others, but it certainly doesn’t come easily or even naturally to most of us.

We see life through our own lenses – and even though it may be a stretch to imagine, our own lenses are often clouded with certain judgments we’ve taken to be true over the entire course of our lives.  So in trying to understand another person, it can be incredibly difficult depending on your differences in character, life experiences, religions, politics, or anything else that helps to define a person into who they are today.

Most of us are only worried about getting our own ideas across – ideas for fixing problems, things we believe are true, etc. to even conceive of trying to understand the other person (or group’s) position.  I love Stephen Covey’s book that covers this topic, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, where he explains that you have to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Seeking to understand implies that one is desiring, hunting, and searchingfor the perspective of another person – when done correctly, it’s definitely not a passive objective.

 

It requires a lot of time and energy, and the reason why I believe this is also part of a person’s spiritual growth is because, as Covey points out, to seek to first understand another person requires a large amount of consideration of your behalf.  Thinking of another carefully, taking the time out of your schedule or busy life to consider another’s feelings, is all part of personal or spiritual growth because it is a form of selfless love – the very opposite of selfishness.  Yet if we ever want to develop really strong, long-lasting friendships and relationships, we must be able to seek first to understand others.

Seeking to understand another doesn’t mean instant harmony or even agreement, however, it opens the door for non-judgmental discussion and dialogue.

“Because you really listen, you become influenceable.  And being influenceable is the key to influencing others.”

“And watch what happens to you.  The more deeply you understand other people, the more you will appreciate them, the more reverent you will feel about them.

To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.”

 

(Quotes from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, 1989)

Advertisements

A Poem to Inspire You When Things Aren’t Going the Way You Want

If—

 

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

 

Everyone goes through ups and downs of life, when we are in a situation that doesn’t make sense, or searching for something that just isn’t to be found… yet.  It’s easy to get frustrated and want to give up.  I wish I had answers or really knew what to say.  A lot of people in my life are in situations like these, it is a fact of life that we will, at some point, face things that seem beyond our ability to understand or even cope with.  This is life.

There will be times when your plans fall through, or when your dreams seem to vaporize… your hope will be dashed so many times that your heart will be sick, and you will be afraid to hope in anything again.  This is life.

But these are also the things that grow us.  We learn strength and integrity, we learn faithfulness and kindness, and to depend on God for our serenity and sustenance – we learn that He is ever-present in every let down, every failure, and every mistake.  We learn that we are never alone in the trials that we may face, because there is always someone else who has “been there,” and was able to get through.

There are also those who don’t make it through, and take their own life in order to escape, or resort to an existence of ungratefulness and discontented with their life.  Hidden bitterness and resentment against everyone around them becomes their way of life.  To me they are examples of why you can’t lose hope… why you should strive to learn the art of contentment and happiness with the life you are living in.  You want to have a good life, full of love in the deepest sense.

The only thing that is certain is that you will be tested in life… you will face trials that will try to break you.  You will face what Kipling’s poem talks about… it is to see if you can mature through it, or become discontent and bitter with life.  There really seems to be only those two choices: maturing and growing, or becoming discontent and eventually bitter.

I’m choosing the former.

 

‘If’ Poem by Rudyard Kipling, from  A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)

The Lazy Caterpillow – How To Spot a Bad Worker

ugly caterpillarI was reading a story book to my son last night for bedtime, and it happened to be a book we’d never read before (thank you, library)… it was based on Proverbs 13:4

 

Slackers crave but have their fill of nothing,

but the hardworking desire and are completely satisfied.

 

The story was about 2 caterpillows (yes… cater-pillow), one that worked and finished his cocoon on time, and the other who didn’t like to work, and never finishes his cocoon.

The Lazy Caterpillow took too many long breaks, slept when he wanted to, skipped days of work, and seemed to do everything but get to the task at hand.

When he finally sees the success and payoff of the Hard-Working Caterpillow, he is shocked, then indignant!  He hates that the Hard-Working Caterpillow became a butterfly.  He declares it isn’t fair… that he’s been robbed…and tries to blame the Successful Butterfly for his laziness.

The Lazy Caterpillow then sits on a rock and (instead of working) continues to complain about his situation, and make a multitude of excuses as to why he’s not a Successful Butterfly.

I love children’s books, I love teaching my son these important biblical lessons.  There are a lot of Lazy Caterpillows out there, and yet there are also a lot of Hard-Working Caterpillows that develop into Successful Butterflies.  The moral of the story is profound.

I’ve honestly seen many Lazy Workers, and they can really drain a program or company.

How to Spot a Bad Worker:

  • They have an attitude that suggests they hate their work – or they come out and say that they hate their work
  • They take too many breaks playing on Facebook at work, sitting in their office getting nothing productive done, spending time talking to other employees for hours instead of working on projects or filing papers
  • They take advantage of company policy.  At my last workplace our team had unofficial Compensation Time that we would use.  There was an employee who was taking classes and so would leave around lunch or just after to get to class.  Eventually they stopped coming back to work altogether, and ended up working 4 to 5 hour days on their days they had class, and never coming in on weekends or in the evenings to ever make up the time lost to the company.
  • They place blame on everything and everyone but themselves… they never take responsibility for things that go wrong or responsibilities they didn’t complete.  When I started my last job, I was given multiple notebooks of records that needed to be kept for our research studies, the person who had had this responsibility before me had never completed questions and reviews of what needed to be done to make the records up to date.
  • When they do see someone successful, they are very bitter, resentful, and think the person doesn’t deserve what they are getting

How to Spot a Good Worker:

  • They have a positive attitude about their job and work, they are grateful for their responsibilities and take great pride in getting their activities done well and on time.  It’s rare to hear a Good Worker complain.
  • They don’t take many breaks – the breaks they do take are kept reasonably short so that they can return to whatever they’re working on.  If they have no particular project, a Good Worker busies themselves with getting the mundane tasks of filing records, or even starting a new project ahead of time.
  • The understand when they make mistakes, and readily admit to them.  They see any bad decisions in retrospect and think about how they would’ve handled that situation differently.  This is big for me, I can look back at a certain situation, and see where I would’ve done things differently.  A Good Worker does this all throughout their career though, constantly evaluating paths they’ve taken and mistakes they might’ve made.
  • Good Workers abide by company policy… always!  They don’t try to take advantage of the company, but actually look for ways to benefit it in the long-run.  They aren’t afraid to push their team forward and create better ways to communicate and operate so that their team can be more productive.
  • Good Workers aren’t afraid to call foul when they see it.  Although it might not always end well for the employee who confronts their boss on their not fulfilling their responsibility to clients or sponsors, it always pays off in the long-run to hold to one’s integrity.  Good Workers have integrity.