Monday, August 23, 2010

EMBRACING OUR DIFFERENCES



“Communication works for those who work at it.” ~ John Powell

There are many communication blocks between people causing us to misunderstanding others. We might misinterpret their intentions, have misconceptions of their culture, or not understand their way of expressing themselves. However the biggest problem is that we expect them to be like us, and if they aren’t, they should change.

When Neal and I first married we noticed right away how different we were. He was neat, structured, orderly, a loner, and practical. I was disorganized, highly social, messy, and a dreamer.

While cooking supper I used every pan in the kitchen and threw them in the sink to soak until I cleaned the kitchen the next morning. That drove Neal crazy. He kept dropping hints that if I’d wash the dishes along while I cooked that by the time supper was ready the kitchen would be clean.

Of course, his suggestions fell on deaf ears. Cleaning was boring. I wanted to get supper over with so we could talk. The dishes could wait until the next morning after he went to work.

At social gatherings I floated around the room hugging friends, talking and laughing with everyone. On the other hand, Neal found one person who was as anti-social as he. They would hide in a corner and speak to no one else. That infuriated me. Why couldn’t he be nice and talk to everyone like I did?

Now, after 30+ years together, we have accepted that we are wired differently and must give each other grace. I’ve learned to be neat and orderly for Neal’s sake, and he’s learned to be social for mine. This opens up communication for both of us but there has been another benefit—am now organized, which has improved and simplified my life. He is at ease with people, easily conversing with them—and he actually enjoys it, which has enhanced and enriched his life.

The lesson here is to not expect people to align with us, but to embrace them. Give them grace and try to communicate with them in a way they will understand. Tear down the barriers that we may have erected and build a bridge.

We are all different and those differences are easy to pick out. Naturally we feel if they would just be more like us then communication would be easy. But that usually doesn’t happen. So why not try to think like others and speak their language?

It takes work. But once the bridge is built the relationship flourishes. And who knows? You may be a better person for it.

I know I am!

2 comments:

Jan Morrill said...

An excellent reminder, Linda. I'm sure there's a reason God made opposites attract!

Jan Morrill said...

Good reminder, Linda. I'm sure there's a reason God made opposites attract!