It is not practical to think that we can get along with everyone, but we can certainly try. The beauty of our world is that it is diverse and full of interesting people everywhere. That means that often we do not understand other’s viewpoints or general outlook of the world. So often things can get “lost in translation” or misinterpreted. The next time you find yourself in that situation try these 3 keys to have a more pleasant interaction.
Assume Positive Intent
I believe people are “good by nature” and often are misunderstood. Does that mean there are not some bad apples? Of course not, but I do believe the “bad apples” are the exception and not the rule. Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo summed it up best when she said: “Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different”. Simple advice but so accurate as our lens changes what we are seeing/hearing as much as what the other person is saying.
Seek to Understand
The practice of seeking to understand has opened so many doors and led to many fruitful relationships in my life. The idea reminds me to ask questions, reserve judgement and genuinely stay curious especially if I do not agree with someone’s opinion. “If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. -Dr. Stephen R. Covey
One of the most profound lessons that I have learned in my life is to “try” not to label myself or anyone else. It is also one of the most challenging things to do as it is a practice that human beings have done for hundreds of years. It simplifies things if we can put people into boxes such as “Jen is positive or Dan is negative”. The problem is that human beings are fluid and ever evolving. You can recreate yourself daily and this is why labels will never be accurate.
Human beings are complex and relationships are even trickier as now you are bringing multiple layers of complexity together. With that being said; if you ask yourself the question “what do I want out of this interaction or relationship?” the answer will come back that we want a positive outcome. Put these three keys into play daily and your circle will widen and your relationships will become even more fulfilling. Who knows maybe that neighbor you do not see “eye to eye” with can now become at least a friendly face you are happy to wave to?!
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