The title of this could also be “How to Appreciate Those People We Don’t Really Like.” What in the world am I talking about you might be asking yourself. Here’s a little story for you that I hope clears up the title(s).
A mockingbird moved in to a very tall tree in my yard about a year and a half ago. He drives me absolutely insane. He sings his medley almost every day, nearly all daylong and sometimes until 2-3 a.m. (Did I mention he drives me insane??) I’ve closed windows, turned on fans and still I could hear him and I grew to hate this bird that I used to think was so unique. I would never, ever hurt him but did decide that I would start squirting the garden hose at him because screaming at him to please go away just wasn’t working. Why me, why my yard, why won’t he just shut up???
Then, I decided to research this infernal bird on-line to see if I could learn what his story was. And I learned a lot about mockingbirds–their mating habits (and mating calls!), their patterns, their diet, etc. So you might be thinking—he’s still an annoying mockingbird, right? Wellllll….since learning that his medley is his mating call and that he chooses the tallest point to perch on to reach the most potential mates with his song, I realized he’s simply trying to survive, ya know? He’s doing what he does to make it in this world and then, a light went on for me and I had a new appreciation for him.
Are there people who drive you nuts and you wish they would just go away? Sure there are. Will approaching them and starting a conversation with them to see what their story is make them likable? Maybe they don’t share your political views, maybe they’re of a different race that you’re not comfortable with or don’t know much about, maybe they’re homosexual and that makes you nervous, maybe their religion is one you totally oppose, maybe they’re not at all religious. These are big issues that can divide us or bind us.
Okay, I know this is big leap from appreciating a bird to getting along with people you are seemingly diametrically opposed to. But that bird got me thinking about people and differences–and how the Gordon Model helps people relate to one another with respect and honesty and can help us appreciate one another even if they drive us crazy.
I can send a Declarative I-Message to the other person and say something along the lines of, “I’d like to learn more about you and who you are.” I can use Active Listening after they hopefully reply positively to that I-Message. (This is all happening, of course, in the No Problem Area of the Window!) The Gordon Model skills (which can be learned from our leadership training programs) can help you develop connections with people you’d never have connected with otherwise. And in our world of email, tweeting, iPhones and the like, we seem to be growing more disconnected from one another. So unplug yourself and tune in to that person you try and steer clear of food for thought I hope.
So that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. Mock me if you wish, but I would enjoy your feedback. : )