August 26, 2015

Top Reason for Accepting Other Viewpoints




What do you think; does everyone act and think the same? Do we all have the same interests and values? Metaphorically speaking, is the world full of dance-troop members who wear the same kind of make-up and costumes, and are about the same height? The similarities don’t stop at appearance. The best dance groups will be so fluid and synchronized that viewers don’t bother to distinguish individuals among them.



DM Nation

Pictured above is this dance crew of young ladies from Quebec, Canada. They have made it to the semi-finals of the current season of America’s Got Talent. These talented young stars have regulated their appearance and movements even more than some other groups. The ladies move as one, in many cases. Obviously, their costumes are identical. They all wear their hair straight, long, and mainly pulled back in a ponytail. Black lipstick tops off their mannequin-like look.

Hello?! This is The Real World!

Dance crews benefit from presenting themselves as a group, not as individuals. After all, we wouldn’t want to see any Irish step dancers mixed in with a Latin dance troop. That would be confusing and counterproductive.  However, everyday people are different. The truth is that we shouldn’t expect individuals to look, act, and think the same. That’s unfair and unrealistic. We are what we are; take us, or leave us.

I don’t mean to imply that we should be allowed to run roughshod over peoples’ sensitivities in the name of being true to ourselves. I mean that everyone needs to allow for a variety of viewpoints and appearances, within reason.

Carol

This relative has always been extremely blunt and overbearing. She also expects people to be as outgoing, open, and assertive as she is. She doesn’t understand that others may not be comfortable with confrontation, sharing deep feelings, and frequent communication.

Sometimes, Carol and I are on completely different wavelengths. She mistakenly analyzes every conversation according to her own personality. Nobody’s happy, as you can imagine.

Yesterday, during a phone call, it became clear that she was baffled and offended by my low-key attitude towards our relationship. In return, I was surely insulted by her ongoing underlying message that my way wasn’t good enough, and I had to start doing things her way.

I overcame my natural reserve enough to explain to her why I wasn’t meeting her expectations, and she finally understood. The conversation ended on a positive note, and I was proud of myself for pushing through a difficult situation.


The Bigger Picture

Obviously, I am far from the only person who has encountered challenges with individuals who are different from me. We see this at work, at school, in our homes, in our places of worship, and the list goes on. The best thing we can do is try to empathize with other people who confuse us. We need to correctly analyze their motivation and their intended message, or we may react inappropriately.

My Conclusion

We weren’t born into a world of beautiful dancers who look the same, move the same, and have the same goals. We are unique, and that’s the way life was meant to be. The challenge of living in such an environment is that people are going to disappoint us. Most people cannot always give us what we need, or know what we require, if they don’t think like us. However, we learn and grow from our interactions.

How have you learned from people who are different from you?