The older I get, the more I value direct, clear, and compassionate communication. And the more I talk with people, the more I realize how different we all are.
During teenage years, there’s the misconception that I am so different and no one can ever understand me and what I’m going through. While each experience is unique, the hormones and some teenage narratives do go a little too far. But then sometimes it swings back the other way too far: every one is like me; and if they’re not, they’re either an idiot or crazy.
Most people don’t go out of their way to say things like that directly or even put them on bumper stickers on their cars (though some do, hah). What I guess I’m trying to get at is: not everyone thinks like you, reader. Nor do they think like me. And discussing those differences, instead of resenting or fighting them, would help us all out.
For example, I was just talking this morning with a friend and how we want to talk more often. I have a hard time opening up in vulnerable ways still. She shared how she doesn’t like to ask me questions about myself because she feels like she’s prying or interrogating me; she figures that if I want to share my life with her, I will volunteer the information. That’s a fair viewpoint.
I have the opposite view: I don’t share what’s on my heart and mind unless someone directly asks. I’m not going to assume the other person is interested just because they’re talking to me. If they want to know how I’m really doing, they’ll have to prove it by asking about it. I think that’s a fair viewpoint, too.
Instead of us both sharing these viewpoints with each other, she could’ve grown in her frustration of how one-sided our friendship feels because I never open up, and I could’ve started resenting her for never asking about me because “clearly she doesn’t care.” See what I mean?
Another example. I have a way of delegating responsibilities when I’m transitioning someone into a role as I transition out. When I treated two different people the same exact way, I had one tell me they felt abandoned by how hands-off I was and the other was suffocated by my “micromanaging”. Both thought that their experience and perception was the only way, and they got frustrated with me without talking to me about it. Though it hurt at the time, it gave me a valuable lesson: we often think our way of seeing something is the only way. And when we think like that, it’s really easy to get mad at people really quickly.
I’m still an intensely opinionated person, and I often get frustrated when people see things differently than I do, especially when I view it as important. But I’m learning to take a step back. Unless the “opinion” is unequivocally from Scripture, then it’s possible that I’m wrong. It’s possible there are multiple ways of seeing things, and it may be best to yield, adapt, compromise, or simply be open to another way of seeing the same thing. Many of our relationships would be a whole lot better for it, if we were open to a different perspective.