Saturday, 19 January 2013

Meeting People Where They Are

I think that people need to demonstrate more respect for each other. I hear people say that teenagers have no respect- but sometimes I think the adults around them aren't setting such a great example either! That is who they learn from after all.
There are so many ways to be respectful of others. One way is to actually "listen" to a person when they are talking to you. It sounds like common sense, but I've noticed it's not actually so common :)
 I have a little technique  I use that really helps me listen respectfully.  I call it "Meeting People Where They Are." I've never really described it before- it's more like an activity. But I want to try now, because I think it's a nice way of treating people with respect and I'd like to share it...........
When I am interacting with another person (at work, or socially) and I find myself thinking how different their life is to my own, rather than thinking we have nothing in common, or just talking about myself,  I encourage them to talk about themselves and I really listen.
Some people don't need much encouragement- just for me to give them the "space" to talk (by not talking too much about my own "stuff"). I encourage other people by asking general (non personal) questions about their life, the surroundings/circumstances that brought us together at that moment, or their family, their work, maybe hobbies ..... Then I pay attention to what they are saying- really be in the moment with them. I stay in the moment with them by picturing what they are saying, in my mind, and occassionally asking a "clarifying" question so they know I am "following" what they are saying.  If people don't wish to continue to talk, I respect that and leave them alone- at work I'll then focus on their treatment. In a social setting I will move on and talk to someone else. I think either way I am treating them respectfully by being attentive to their cues. A person just might not want to talk to me (their reason is their own business) and I respect that.  If they do choose to interact, I keep paying attention and then, at some point, ideas or experiences we have in common (even within our differences) will arise and then I might  add a little about my experience with the "things we have in common."..........maybe they mention a place I have also visited, or an experience I have also had.........but finding a little bit of something in common, amongst different ways of living. If they then begin to give me "space" I talk more about my experience, if not I just continue to be in the moment and listen. I just "meet them where they are." If they give me "space" I respond, if they don't I just stay in the moment with them. I have learned so much by what feels like "walking along with people" in this way- rather than what may have initially been a conversation I would avoid, because they live their life very differently to myself, and one might assume we'd have nothing in common.
I'm just thinking right now, it seems like conversation becomes  a "dance" in this way......I give them space and they move into it......they give space and I move into it......
During that dance what I learn from, and about,  people enhances my life, by broadening my outlook.
So, I'm constantly reminded that there are so many diverse ways of living happily. I love people to remind me of that!

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