Thursday, May 12, 2005

Everyone Has a Good Reason for What They Say and Do

People say and do things for what they consider to be good reasons, whether or not they seem like good reasons to anyone else, and they are justified in what they say and do, in their own minds, at the time. I used to say that I did things because people made me mad. At the time, that seemed like a good reason to me. I don't think it is a good reason anymore, so I no longer do anything because somebody made me mad. I only do things for good reasons. But that was always true.

But it doesn't matter anyway. If we assume and act as if we believe that there is some character flaw or intentionally bad behavior on the other person's part, we can only fight with them. If we assume the best about the other person and show that instead, we make it easy for them to listen to us and talk to us.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Everyone is Doing the Best They Can

Everyone is doing the best they can right now. Maybe not as well as they did yesterday or will do tomorrow. Just the best they can right now. Nobody's perfect. Demanding perfection is abuse.

Think about how we treat our customers. We never tell customers they are wrong. Because, of course, customers are always right. And if somehow a customer wasn't right, it wouldn't be their fault, it would be our fault! And if we insist that they are wrong, they will just go find someone else to work with. We always assume customers are doing the best they can. We are willing to do things their way, our way, whatever works. We will give it another try, come up with a different plan, whatever it takes.

It is not our job to figure out what is wrong with people. It is our job to help them.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

People Are Accountable for Their Words and Actions

On the other hand, we are all accountable for our words and actions. What we say and do are choices that we make. Choices that affect other people. So, we are accountable, not because we need to get permission, but because we will get a reaction.

And we are still accountable even when we are "provoked". Other people don't really make us mad. We make ourselves mad. We hear what they say or see what they do and decide that it is an insult or a threat to us and we react. But we always have a choice about how we respond. We can choose another reaction that could make the situation go the way we want it to go, that will help us achieve our goals.

And what if it's not really about us anyway? What if they seem to be shooting at us but they're really aiming at something else? What if we just stepped out from in front of the target?

Monday, May 02, 2005

People Are Not Accountable for Their Thoughts and Feelings

People can stop us from talking, sometimes, they can stop us from doing, but they can't stop us from thinking and feeling. We can't even stop ourselves really, can we? And they're nobody else's business. The only things we have that can't be taken away from us.

We could decide to share our thoughts or feelings if we want understanding or assistance. And people could help us with new information and new insights. But no one has the right to demand to know or try to guess what we are thinking or feeling in order to criticize, condemn, or punish us.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

We Don't Know What Other People are Thinking and Feeling

We talk as if we know what other people are thinking and feeling. We say things like. He's mad! Or, she thinks if she gets coffee for the boss every day, she'll get a raise. But we're not really reading their minds. We infer what they think and feel from the way they talk and act. There are really very few mindreaders and empaths amongst us.

And even if we knew exactly what someone else is thinking and feeling, it wouldn't do us any good. It's almost impossible to start a constructive conversation by telling someone, "You're thinking . . ." Although it's pretty easy to start a fight that way.

Think of the person you know the best. If he or she came into the room looking worried and unhappy, would you try to guess what he or she was thinking? Even though you would have a better chance of guessing what might upset him. No, you wouldn't try to read his mind or her mind. You would ask because you want to know for sure exactly what the problem is. And because that's how you start a conversation so that you can start helping him or her figure it out. That works with everybody, not just the person you know best.

What do you think?