Scones, jam, cream, road rage, neighbour disputes or team miscommunication, there’s something we should all realise to smooth our way though life…
Devon or Cornwall – what’s your habit?
Did you know that your preference for jam or cream first on a scone, places you in either Devon or Cornwall – which are you?
Jam first and cream on top is apparently from Cornwall tradition whereas cream first and jam on top is more common in Devon.
My preference is jam first, it’s stickier so it smooths out the top of the crumbly scone before topping with the cream. Makes perfect sense. Why would you do it any other way?!
Here lies the point of my message this week; there is always a different way to see a situation. And the real rub – other people also think their way of seeing it is the only sensible way!
Have you ever got frustrated behind a driver who has randomly slowed down, right in your way? Do you ever think or even shout “What ON EARTH are you DOING!”
Only to see that, as you eventually progress, there was a big truck turning, a dog in the road or some other good reason for their behaviour?
Have you ever been that person at the front, cross at the impatience of the drivers behind you, tooting their horn to hurry you, unaware of your valid reason for slowing down?
There’s always two sides. I would estimate that in an average day, across the world, of the people who will get angry with someone else’s stupidity, meanness or other crime, 85% of those accused will be well meaning people going about their business with good intentions. Even those who seem to be purposely obstructive may well be convinced they’re doing the right thing.
After all, we’ve been the other side of this, haven’t we…being misunderstood, someone accusing us of thoughtlessness, meanness or whatever?
I remember walking along the seafront, thanking my mum for paying for having paid for our lovely cafe lunch and her looking at me in shock as she was about the thank me for paying. We went back but they had closed for the evening. We felt awful. What would the cafe owner have thought of us? Sneaky, cheeky, rude, obnoxious, uncaring? Would they think that we do this kind of ‘scam’ all the time?
We sometimes make assumptions about other people’s behaviour without remembering that we make mistakes too.
Can you remember being made aware of a mistake you’ve made and been mortified that someone else may have thought you selfish, rude or ungrateful?
A good friend once drew me a diagram of two mountains. He explained that we are on top of our mountain, looking across at someone on the other peak. The idea was that, if we were ever going to understand and connect with each other, we needed to come down off our mountain, climb theirs and sit a while seeing the view from there.
Teams and Organisations
One of the things I see when things go wrong with people who work together is that there isn’t time set aside regularly to share what it’s like climbing your mountain.
Pooping in a handbag
My favourite story to tell on the subject of trust is about one of my bestest friends. I thought I’d upset her and sent a rambling text about how sorry I was. She has no recollection of the misdemeanour and hadn’t been at all upset. The crowning moment came in her reply.
“Pam”, she said, “you could *poop in my handbag and I’d still love you forever”.
(*she didn’t say poop but this is a family show).
My point being that when we spend time talking together, we understand why someone makes a sudden swerve, slows down, doesn’t meet a deadline or says the wrong thing. If we connect and learn about what’s going on for each other and how we individually do things and see thing, a little differently, we can ‘cut them some slack’.
And then, if you ever do poop in their handbag (please don’t do it on purpose to test the theory) you might just be forgiven, or can at least have a conversation about what happened.
Trying it out
Have a go at this.
1. Next time you find yourself saying something like “I can’t believe they’ve done that!” or “Why haven’t they come told us about that!?” or “Why on EARTH would someone think that’s ok?!”
2. Take a deep breath. Imagine the person is someone you’d give a handbag exemption to. And consider why they might have done or said what they did. Imagine what their possible positive intention was, even if it ended up with a negative result.
3. Have a conversation with them. Learn from this example, how you might understand their mountain the next time.
4. Set up regular chats with the people you need to live, work or play with. Learn more about their day, life, struggles, their ‘mountain’. Ask questions and share things about your mountain with them.
(Health and Safety Warning
Some people, because of their own baggage, frustrations, pain or whatever, might actually be guilty of doing the wrong thing for real. In that case, you still need to take a breath before leaping in. See the video below for how to not let their ‘bad behaviour’ affect you so much.)
England Football Team
There have been a few opinion pieces in the press about how such a young team of England players managed to get so far in the World Cup this year. The big shift seems to be that they connect as people first and then the football training, skills and techniques can all come to fruition. If you don’t understand your team mate, assume the worst about them or have a ‘beef’ with them, it’s hard to create a good team or be successful in the game. Their manager Gareth Southgate got them socialising, talking, having fun and experiencing more of life together, in that way they all give each other a handbag exemption 😉
Ask, Tell, Share, then Thrive!
Aside from making a team stronger, there’s another benefit. Avoiding all that blame, anger and frustration is healthier for you too. Taking a moment to ponder their point of view reduces the amount of adrenaline and cortisol you’ve got rushing around your body. And less stress chemicals means a healthier mind and body for you.
Staying calm and thinking positively. It just makes sense.
Like putting the jam on first, come on, why would anyone possibly do it any other way! 😉