Saturday, September 03, 2005

Lessons In Adroitness...

a·droit (-droit)
  1. Dexterous; deft.
  2. Skillful and adept under pressing conditions. See Synonyms at dexterous.
  3. Something that most people could do well with in their lives.
OK - I added that last one, I admit it. (grin)

What Does This mean?
Today, I want to address something that is a totally new concept within my life. I've never tried it before, so I'm still learning how to adapt it within my life. This is the skill of being adroit - sometimes it means being diplomatic, and other times not giving satisfaction in a derogatoory situation. Some see this as a foolish means of communication, and that you are "giving in" to the other person, and this makes you appear weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, you do give the other person what they want, but you also get what you want. That's the part that most people don't see. To understand this further, you need to look at the basic human psyche.

Looking Inside...
Without getting too deep or too technical, let's look at a few things. What is the first thing that we notice in general? That's right - ourselves. There's nothing wrong with that - it's a given, as we are so "close" in that respect. Whenever something is not right within our worlds, who notices first? Yep - WE DO! Okay, now just imagine looking out at a crowd of people - who do you think they are thinking about most of the time? Bingo! We are constantly aware of what we touch, taste, feel, see, think, and do. Of course! that's how we experience life - through our own eyes, and no one else's. No one thinks like we do, no one talks or walks exactly like we do, etc. This also presents problems, and for most people, and creates a myopic field of vision. They filter everything through themselves, and use that as their reference - not for one moment seeing the other person's point of view. This is where the trouble ultimately starts. Questions start to form, such as:

What about ME?

How does this affect ME?

Where is MY piece of the pie?

Is this MINE?

No matter what aspect in life, doesn't it always come down to what it does for YOU? People say, "Well I always put my family first..." Indeed, you do, but I ask you, once again; doesn't it always come down to what it does for YOU? Who feels good when you take time with your family? YOU do! Who feels that they are a valued and respected member of society? That's right - YOU do! So you see, it IS all about you! So, the next time someone accuses you of thinking of only yourself, ask them in return, "what do you feel bringing this to my attention did for you as well?" That should make them stop and think for a minute - perhaps even catch them off-guard. You are basically throwing it right back at them. Seems like a lot of fun, eh? I think so! This type of thinking can put meddling and belittling people (e.g. in-laws, parents, etc) in their place - perhaps making them just a bit frustrated, because they didn't get the response that they wanted out of you. In this instance, you were being adroit - you didn't give the other person what they wanted, and... you managed to save face.

And The Moral Of The Story Is...
If we put aside our own thoughts and beliefs for a second, and look at the other guy's, maybe life would be just a bit easier for us. Of course, we may not readily agree with their point-of-view, but we can at least let them know that they are indeed entitled to it, and we can accept that fact. One of the worst things that we can do is to tell something that they are wrong - this initiates a defensive response. Sometimes this results in hurt feelings, and sometimes it can escalate to violence of epic proporitions. A good example would be folks who insist on committing heinous acts in the name of their creator. I truly don't believe that it didn't start out that way - they were just met with so much opposition and ridicule that it drove them to this. Of course, this in now way excuses their actions, but it does shed some light here.

Perhaps if someone would have taken to time to understand them, and accept their beliefs, it might not have gotten that far. One of Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is the principle of "Seek first to understand - then to be understood." This is self-explanatory. Take the time to listen to others, and then they will listen to you. Think of this as showing kindness to another person - if you are kind to them, more than likely, they will be kind to you in return. I know that this doesn't always work, but just remember this - there's always a reason why that person (or organization) is not warming up to you. Sometimes it takes a few different approaches to get the result that you want. Just ask any good sales representative - they'll tell you that.

Don't Shoot Me Just Yet!
As I said before, this is very new to me as well, so I'm "learning the ropes," as I go along. I choose not to be violent or judgemental within my life anymore, nor do I wish to get caught up in the emotion of the general consensus. I am by no means an expert - rather, I'm an enthusiastic and eager student of life. Laying down the pain of the past has done incredible things for me - allowing me to take huge strides rather quickly in human development. I am just dissmenating what I learn as I go along - if you can use it, great. If not, that's fine as well. I hold no malice towards you - perhaps what works for me, does not work for you. It's not a big deal. Really.

Being Weird...
You remember the time in school when you wanted to do something different - something that no one else would even dare to do? Did you do it? If you did, were you teased and told that you were weird? If so, how did that make you feel? I bet that you really felt out of place, isolated, hurt, or even humiliated. I can sympathize with you, because that totally resonates with me as well. I remember just being myself, and kids (and adults) would tell me that I was weird, or that I was stupid. Over time, I began to believe that weird equals bad. No matter how I tried to fit in with the others, I could never seem to do it. This began to build up very strong feelings of hurt, resentment, anger, and unfortunately, hatred. Remember Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris? Yep, those were the two kids who were involved in the Columbine massacre. It's unfortunate that this happened, but I know why it did: they felt left out and just want to be understood - to be accepted by their peers.

They were considered "nerds" or "geeks" - the ones that no one wanted to be associated with. It's too bad, because I bet you that these guys were pretty damn smart, and had a hell of a future ahead of them. But to them, it wasn't enough - they weren't happy, and that ultimately says alot in the end. None of their peers seemed to want to reach out to them - to make them feel accepted. To a kid, that means more than anything else in the world. They are fighting for their own identity - ironically, they are also wanting to be accepted by their peer group. The ones that don't, feel hurt, discouraged, humiliated, etc. I was one of those kids.

You'd Better Sit Down For This...
I myself almost commited a similar act that Klebold and Harris succeeded in doing. Thankfully, it would have involved only one person - however, that one person was basically the target of several years of suffering. I had snapped, and decided that this was the only way that I would feel better. By the grace of God, a miracle happened, and I never followed through. It was a blessing in disguise. I may go into detail about this whole event in a later post. I can tell you this though - once word got around to him that I "had his number," he made it a point to apologize to me in front of several people. From then on, he left me alone and we had an understanding, albeit it was a very unconditional method of getting there.

Today, if I saw him somewhere, I would sit down and have a few drinks with him, talk about the past, and not hold any reservations - we were different people then. I would listen intently to him as he told me how his life was back then. When it was my turn, I could tell him basically what led me to that point, but not relive the emotions associated with it. Frankly, I could do this with nearly anyone I had problems with in the past. It wouldn't be easy, as our minds are so hard-wired from these experiences, and they are not able to distinguish reality from vivid imagination. However, I truly believe that I would be able to do this now. That's why I'm going to my 20-year high school reunion. I will "test" myself time and again. When someone brings up a painful memory, I'll just laugh about it, and consider it "water under the bridge." It's a shame that Klebold and Harris won't get to that point in their lives. I won't excuse them for what they did - but I won't deny that they did have feelings that were hurt somewhere down the line.

You say that they shouldn't have overreacted to being teased or had such a low self-esteem. That is definitely something to consider. Perhaps they had trouble reaching out because of trouble communicating with their families. I'm not going to point fingers, but parents need to be extremely attentive to the sincere needs of their children. This doesn't mean always buying them the toy that they want. It means when they are showing signs of being unhappy or hurt when they come home from school, or somewhere else, you need to talk to them about it. Take five minutes out of your life to devote to genuine concern for their well-being. Better yet, make it a point to ask them how their day went EVERY day. Some good friends of mine do that during dinner - it makes for great conversation, and can open up many doors. You may discover that your child is having problems in school with teachers, peers, or just their homework. Do what you can to help them. Beware of any red flags that may pop up. This alone could help your child in more ways than you can imagine. It shows that you care for them, they are accepted and that they are LOVED! Being loved is probably the most important thing for a kid when all is said and done. Give them all the love that you can. Be involved in their lives, and give them a shoulder to cry on when they need it.

Alluding Back To...
Oh? Where was I? Oh yeah...take the time to understand the other person's point of view. Look at it from their side. Say to yourself "If I was them, how would I do this? Why would this happen?" Go as deep as you need. Your best weapon is to ask questions. Perhaps if we show the person that we are sincerely attempting to understand them, they will gracefully open up to us, offer something that they've rejected countless times in the past, or do what it is we desire them to do. Remember, it may not work the first time, so change your approach accordingly. Also, remember don't openly tell anyone that they are wrong - no one likes that.

For Those Interested...
If you want to know more about dealing with people, I strongly suggest that you take a few lessons from one of the masters - Dale Carnegie. His book, How To Win Friends And Influence People, was first published in 1936, and is still a best-seller! Some of the words used in the book, and references he uses are dated, but the principles still ring true. He says that if the only thing you gain from the book is that you learn to see the other person's point-of-view, then so be it. That, at least, is a step within the right direction. Personally, I think that Dale Carnegie's courses should be pre-requisite for anyone in public office, public safety, public ANYTHING! I will freely admit that this book alone has expanded my horizons as far as dealing with people and situations involving them. As I said before, I'm only a student - not by any means perfect, and I do slip up from time to time - such is life. However, as life unfolds, I find myself using the principles learned on a more frequent basis. As a matter of fact, before reading the book, I used the word "adroit," almost next to never. What a difference one word can make - in our lives, and in everyone elses'.

You Know The Drill...
As always, feel free to comment, grill me, or whatever. You are entitled to your opinion, but if you violate my two simple ground rules - don't insult me and don't belittle me - you have just wasted your time. Thanks for stopping by!

Just a quick note: If you think that I will get upset when you insult me, you are sorely mistaken. I will only look at that, seeing you as the true person you are. I know (and you know,) that you are truly capable of much more intelligence than what you are displaying at that time. Please, do keep this in mind.

1 comment:

Storm Trooper said...

With respect to your response about New Orleans - I fully agree that a death toll should not necessarily be the primary means of deciding what aid should be provided. I am also shocked and dismayed at the number of people that might be dead - who would have thought that (potentially) 10,000 American citizens could die in a catastrophe. You are right to expect that other countries should be helping - you might want to find out if they are wanted, however. I know for a fact that the Canadian agencies had to wait to find out if they were welcome. The last thing I think the American government wants is a bunch of random countries trapsing all over the storm-zone without making sure that people understand that America is in charge. You know? Just a thought.

It is also interesting to note that George Bush dropped the ball on this one...even IF there was nothing more that his government could have been doing, he should have made it appear in the media that efforts were being made. We'll see how this one plays out.