John and Peter were my classmates in high school; both were talkative and constantly used to engage in arguments about everything. Sometimes, their arguments would stem from what would appear petty to most of us and stop at one second shy of a physical fight. They would use a lot of energy with each trying to prove the other wrong. One day, they actually fought, but this fight taught us a timeless lesson. They began arguing about the color of a geometrical set with each of them clearly convinced that the other was wrong; John said the set was golden in color while Peter held the position that it was reddish. It was not long before they started calling each other names which culminated into a few blows at each other.
It was our mathematics teacher who saw them and came and address the matter; after all, he was the duty master. Before administering punishment to them (fighting was considered gross misconduct), he decided to listen to each of them and then teach them (and the whole class) a lesson about life. He sought to understand why they were fighting only for them to produce a geometrical set whose color they were conflicting upon. It was even more hilarious when a female teacher who was passing by came and confirmed that none of them was right on the colors (you know men and colors). That is beside the point. It was what the duty master did afterwards that I still remember and value.
He (the duty master) sent for some paper in his office and requested the rest of us to be seated as only John and Peter remained standing. He placed the paper on the table and requested the fighting buddies to each stand on one side of that table. He then asked Peter what color the paper was, to which Peter said, “white.” “What?” John shouted. “I told you this guy is daft, how can he say that something which is clearly black, is white? This guy is colorblind!” the teacher urged John to take it easy before requesting them to switch places. This time he began by asking John what color the paper was. John became hesitant, his eyes opened widely even as he seemed to develop an unprecedented stammering tendency. Finally and in a humbled way, he said, “white.”
The teacher turned to us, “you see, Peter was not wrong after all. John too was not wrong in his choice of color. This paper camouflages the white and black colors depending on which side you see it from. John’s only undoing was to rush into insults without considering Peter’s point of view.” That was profound! Both John and Peter found themselves unanimously singing the chorus, “I’m sorry.”
Have you judged people harshly based on your stand point? Have you reprimanded others for being wrong according to your definition of what is right? Have you trashed your subordinate’s explanations simply because they did not make sense in your world of senses? Have you branded your spouse a ‘slow coach’ because they seem to do things whose explanations you cannot understand? Have you had to shut up your kids and even accused them of disobedience when they tried to explain why they did that which you considered a felony? Well, what if they are right? What if you took time to understand things from their view point; is their likelihood that you could see the same things they saw?
You may be a victim of this from different quotas; it just happens that most people suffer from partiality syndrome. Most people only see the side that favors them; they only view life from their vantage point without a dot of care to understand the view point of the next person. There is nothing as an absolute wrong view in this life; we all have a story, we all have an explanation. The world would be much better if we cared to listen to the other person’s perspective and make sense based on their stand point.
The danger of seeing things only from your view point is that the other person might withdraw and go into silence which has its detrimental ramifications. They burn slowly in pain and feel rejected and not understood while you miss out on the possible lessons that the other person’s explanation would have imparted on you. We live in a learning world and only those who are prepared to learn, excel. Learn to empathize with others just before you rush into conclusions; you may save and build an important relationship. Be a good listener and try as much as you can to put yourself in the other person’s shoes; always seek to understand and not to be understood and just as our teacher demonstrated, you might avoid a conflict. Do not be full of yourself because YOU CAN DO BETTER!
Motivational Speaker and Author.