I cut my husband Bill’s hair on the back porch last week so he wouldn’t need to see his barber while we are waiting out our turns to be vaccinated. Let’s just say that once it feels safe, he WILL return to the barber.
I heard myself say to Bill, “I preferred it when you had someone else do this for you and I just criticized your haircut when you came home.”
How many of us do the equivalent in our paid work?
It is often easier to criticize work we pay for than to acknowledge that we cannot competently do it ourselves.
Next time you catch yourself on the verge of a criticism, think about whether or not there is actually something constructive being added by your comment.
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Yesterday my friend Susie called from Utah. “What’s it like to be in the DC suburbs right now? Are you okay?” Susie asked. She was referring to the crowds gathering around the Capitol and later forcing their way inside.
Fortunately, I woke up this morning to a brighter day. The sun is shining, the crowds have dispersed, and democracy as it was formulated in America over 200 years ago is taking place.
Our country is trying to heal and each one of us can help, right now, today.
Listen to your colleagues talk about yesterday’s events and be curious. Why do they feel what they feel? How do they form their opinions? Even if, and especially if you don’t agree with them, wonder “why?”
Twenty-two years ago my coach told me something incredibly poignant. He said, “If you don’t understand someone’s behavior, you haven’t learned enough about them.” All humans make decisions based on their life experiences and their backgrounds. If you think someone is acting crazily, it often just means that you aren’t seeing what they are seeing, you aren’t hearing what they are hearing, you haven’t experienced what they have experienced.
I am not proposing that you agree or support other peoples’ behavior, in fact, sometimes just the opposite. Still, in order to heal, we must be curious enough to understand other people’s behavior. We cannot heal without recognition of our unique experiences, understanding, and change.
How to start? Well, how do you receive your news? Whatever the source, shake it up. Change the usual channel on your TV or radio to other stations, get an alternative newspaper, subscribe to a new podcast. Balance your news sources to include those that lean both right and left.
If you, like most Americans, have even one social media account, watch and learn from the documentary The Social Dilemma.
Start by listening to one person in your workplace who feels differently about yesterday’s events than you feel. Be curious and ask about their experiences.
My coach from all those years ago also told me, “And if you are feeling overwhelmed or wondering where to start, just start.” Then he continued, “When you are trying to create positive change, people often get stuck wondering where to start. Just start! Walk in any door or window that you can open and start.” The metaphor when applied to real life means, “Talk to anyone who feels even slightly different than you and listen with an open heart and curious mind.”
I encourage you to go in any door and start healing yourself and our nation.