Friday, April 26, 2013

There's Two Sides to Everything, and We're Not Talking 'Slaw and Fries!

'Slaw and fries on opposite sides!
When you hear the words, "You're entitled to your opinion," do you ever stop to think about what is being said? What message is being sent? It's an unfinished statement. Too often there's a "but" that follows and, of course, you hear the opinion. Their side. You may be the coleslaw, but they're talkin' fries.

I wrote a little bit about this a year or two ago. It was about perspective. The example I used was watching a hockey game (my son was playing defense). The ref made a call that everyone in the surrounding bleachers, including me, thought was a really bad one. At the very same time, however, the family and friends watching from the adjacent bleachers were excited and clapping, supporting the ref's decision. We were outraged! How could one be so blind? So oblivious?

Well, it's really easy to have an opinion that makes no sense to someone else. While we're asking them to try and see it from our perspective, we're ignoring the fact that they want us to do the same thing. Everyone has an agenda.
Sometimes people try to cut deals. "Just listen to what I have to say first and see if you don't agree with me. Then I'll be more than happy to listen to what you have to say." Easier said than done. Everyone wants to go first - to have their say before the other gets a chance to speak.

No matter which side makes their case first, the outcome is already predetermined - 'slaw's sticking with mayo and fries are cozying up with ketchup!
How can this two-sided arena come to an agreement? Will it end in the old standby, "We'll just have to agree to disagree?" Perhaps. But there are a couple of ways to get around this. They take practice and lots of resolve but they do work.

'Slaw and fries hanging out with no sandwich buffer-zone?
You First
 Two words. Simple. Polite. Respectful. Allows for the other to make their case without having to agree to hear you out first. Believe it or not, you've already made yourself heard louder and clearer than pushing for top billing.
This takes more practice, but is amazingly successful. Don' t share your opinion. Seriously. Don't speak. Listen to your friend, nod, smile and let it go. If pressed, do not react. A genuine message such as, "You have an interesting take. I'd like to think about it" can end things peaceably.

Perspective, peace-keeping, positive, proactive. Call it what you may – it makes sense.
'Slaw and fries hanging out with no sandwich buffer-zone? Stranger things have happened!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Independence Day – One Day At a Time

There is a particular quality of emotion that is evoked when the strains of national anthems begin and slowly build to a crescendo. Around the world the sentimental pieces of music, sung in hundreds of languages, are typically a part of elaborately planned celebrations that speak of pride of country and loyalty to its representatives. Yesterday, April 15th, was Israel's Independence Day. In July, both Canada and the United States of America will celebrate their own on the 1st and 4th respectively.

When countries celebrate their independence it is a massive production involving millions of citizens coming together, supportive of government and one another. Many in number they are united and strong, forming a mighty fortress, human brick by human brick. The celebrations are a time to enjoy music and dance, wear festive costumes, eat special foods and watch the night come alive as fireworks explode in colorful configurations.

Yet, not all Independence Days are noted on calendars. Most are celebrated alone. These hard-earned, noteworthy events draw little attention and are usually celibate celebrations. So many brave soldiers have never set foot on foreign soil. For many, the hardest battles are fought from within.

On any given day, though you would never know it, there are parents, children, teachers, neighbors and friends fighting for their lives. We see it on TV, read about it in the newspapers and witness it in the streets. Predators in all disguises: alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, disorders, sexual battery, prostitution, diseases and phobias. Some of the predators don't seem as alarming: unhappy at home, dissatisfied at work, verbal abuse, but they take their toll as well.

The day an individual says, "No more" and resists their personal demons, overcomes the unbelievable fatigue associated with their battle and removes them self from the horrible fear that has weighed them down for far too long, is their Independence Day. Your loyalty to yourself is your own magnificent Independence Day.

Your heart and good nature were never intended to be trampled upon, used and left in the dirt. It is the part of you that beats the rhythm of calm as easily as the uneven syncopation of stress and fear. Your anxieties were never meant to be handled alone. And your suffering can be history as you plant your flag and claim your Independence Day.

April is National Rebuilding Month. Think about how you want to rebuild yourself, your life, your independence. Not all building is done with brick and mortar.

Side effects include: a deep sense of pride, increased self-worth, calm, inner peace and happiness.

Fireworks optional.