Bob was excited telling Don about a new program for young boys. The goal was to affirm them as young men, their heritage, their importance, and their self-worth. Don didn’t get it, he had a perplexed look on his face, and then said, “Haven’t they got it figured out yet?”
I remember listening to Dwayne, the hurt still visible. He was telling me about a conversation he’d recently had with a good friend of his. Dwayne lost his long-time friend and business partner to cancer a year ago, and he still grieved not having her around, and admitted it to his friend. The friend’s response was “You should be over this by now.”
Juanita and Bethany had spent most of their career with their organization, so having it acquired by a bigger company was especially difficult. It was a loss in so many ways for each of them and they didn’t know what the future would be like. Everything was moving fast, and it was all new to them. New procedures, new policies, new products and on and on. Their new leader Stacy asked how they were doing and said she really wanted to know. They both admitted that they were a bit overwhelmed and missed what they had in their old company. Stacy nodded her head in agreement, but then said, “I get it, I hear you, but the past is over, you have to get over it and move on.”
Bob, Dwayne, Juanita, and Bethany all felt dismissed. Sadly, this happens all the time. When we don’t understand the emotions of others, share the same perspective, or see the same level of importance, we dismiss it in our head, and are dismissive with words that often end up hurting others. Sadly, if there was a ledger that counted the number of times when I was dismissive of things instead of leaning in to learn more, I would be embarrassed with an overwhelming number of dismissals. I’m not unique in this either, we all do it, we’re all guilty.
Yet when it impacts us personally, it’s our emotions, something we believe in or see as critically important, well that’s another story. That should be paid attention to, not just by us, but by those around us. They need to see it the way we do.
Being dismissive of what’s important to others but wanting others to see what we see, shouldn’t be surprising to us if we give it some thought. After all, we are all unique and have lived a life of different experiences. That we see things differently should be expected.
What’s the answer to dismissing others?
Instead of instantly reacting with a statement of dismissal, try asking questions to learn more about their perspective, like:
“Please tell me more”
“What did you mean by that?”
“Why is that important?”
“How does that make you feel?”
“What can I do to help?”
There is an endless list of questions for those who are curious. If you have been blessed by children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews, you know they are constantly curious about “why” things are what we say they are. They dismiss nothing because they want to learn, to figure it out.
You will build stronger relationships by leaning in and being curious, instead of dismissing what doesn’t make sense or isn’t important to you. Your curiosity says, “I care”, and we all want others to care about what’s important to us.
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8