Appreciate the Differences

There has been a series of controversial comments generated here and here.

Yesterday, I opened my virtual big mouth (on an online group I joined a few months ago) by commenting on a post by a person I hardly know. Another member kindly enlightened me that the poster was being sarcastic. I am tone-deaf online! When will I learn? All these events led me to think.

Do you have the "BE LIKE ME" syndrome? Is this your approach?
Treat people like I do.
Interact with them like I do.
Do everything the way I do it because, if I do it this way, it must be the best way for you to do it too.

It was me. I attest to that and obviously am having a relapse! In my continuing journey of discovery, I learned that we all have different ways of doing and responding to things. Striving to understand--better yet--to appreciate--these differences may do wonders for cultivating our relationships with loved ones, relatives, friends, and peers.

Long ago (before kids,) dh and I would sit at dinner table and chatted about what had happened at work that day. Every once in a while, he'd share his problems with me. After listening to his description, I'd immediately (prior to learning my lesson) break into my typical speech about how he could resolve that dilemma if only he follows my "easy steps."

Fortunately, I have a very understanding, relaxed hubby, so he let this go for a while. Eventually, as I described again my "strategy", he stopped me mid-sentence and said, "Sweetheart, I love you. But, I don't want your solution. I just want a hug!" Have you been there?

I spent my time following the golden rules, treating others the way I want to be treatd. Instead, I need to pursue "platnium" rule (heehee) and treat others the way they want to be treated. Profound, isn't it? In order to do so, I must have a better understanding of the differences between people as well as a clearer understanding of my own preferences.

The notion of people born with fundamentally different temperaments or predispositions to act in certain ways dates all the way back to the Ancient Greeks. Here is a simple analogy that captures the essence of temperament. My personality is very much like a variety of trees. Just as a pine cone will not grow into an oak tree and an acorn will not produce a pine tree, a person with one type of temperament won't grow into an adult with a different type of personality. Just as there are many varieties within the same type of trees--because of differences in soil, water, and available sunlight--so, too, are their variations, related to upbringing and social factors, among people who share the same temperament.

One of the critical things to remember is that we all can--and do--function outside of our natural temperaments, or preferences, at times. Life requires that. I notice whenever I function within my preferences things seem to require less energy and occur a little easier.

The key is to help those around me to spend as much time functioning inside their preferences as possible. This is true for my family and friends. If I can tune into people's temperaments, the results are fantastic. Wouldn't you say all that is worth considering?

2 encouragements:

Stephanie said...

Of course everyone is supposed to do it MY WAY!!!

Don't feel bad about the misinterpretation, it happens, as you get to know the different personalities it will become easier :)

Radical Unschoolers Live in FREEDOM said...

THANKS, Stephanie, for comforting words. I am horrible in communicating online and not as articulate as you and other RCUers. I have been feeling so badly that I am literally hiding in my shell. Someday, I hope everyone may forget my silly comment.

I am starting to enjoy blogging as a vehicle/unbiased sounding board for me to ponder even at 2 a.m. in areas that I haven't been able to do more intimately with the limited circle of friends locally. I've never have close girl friends. Guy friends moved away after I got married and lost touch slowly? Nowaday, I am very social on the surface and active in our unschooling circle for our kids' sake. Outside that, it's a challenge to develop deeper friendship with other homeschooled moms.*sigh* I'm content being home but our kids are not. They NEED to be around their friends all the time! People in our homeschool group are not like that. I organize activities (often overboard) to satisfy our kids' desires. This time of the year is especially tax-ing. Top it off, I am combating mood swing this evening! You've impeccable timing and thank you for reaching out, Stephanie. You're God Send!

True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

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