One thing we forget so often is that there's always a flip-side. When you think one way, someone else thinks another. Experience and culture play a significant role in how and what we believe. We bring this with us, and it impacts us. People that hunt have a very different feeling about guns than people that have had a family member that's been murdered by a gun.
Keep the following in mind, as you read Ed Blog, pt. 24: 10 Things in 5 Days. It will help you understand where I'm coming from, and goes in conjunction with How We Tackle the Problem: My brother and I have both been told we slam car doors.
On separate occasions, in separate states, we've had multiple people complain about the way we exit a car. Apparently, we 'slam' the door. When we've stepped out of the car of an uber or friend, they give us a look like, What are you doing? Our response: shutting your door.
We grew up in the same house, with the same parents. We were always told to make sure the car door was shut. Nearly every time we got out of a car, we were asked this question. It was a big deal. If a door wasn't shut, the interior light would be left on and the car battery could die. This could result in being late or missing an appointment. Making sure a door was closed properly was much more important than leaving it slightly ajar; so, for us, it was better to close a door with a little extra force than it was to leave it open. 'Slamming' was much preferred to not closing the door properly. Thus, through our reinforcement, we err on the side of 'too hard' because a 'soft' close could inconvenience someone.
But even the terms 'slam' and 'soft' in this context needs definition. I would define 'slam' as an intentional act that uses excessive, intentional force. And I certainly don't to that. I simply make sure the door is closed, which - apparently - others disagree with. The 'culture' we grew up with goes directly against the culture of what other people grew up with, and there is the difference.
It also extends to every area of life and teaching. The important thing is to have a dialogue about the issues at hand, and listen to people that think differently than you do. If you don't, you judge them as insufficient, when really you are simply unaware.
Why this matters is that things that are normal to you could be an inconvenience for others. Things you naturally bring to the table, may be insulting others, and knowing this, and acknowledging this can save a lot of time and pain. For instance:
- Some people view sarcasm as a form of humor; others view it as a lie.
- Some people say, "If you're on time, you're late"; others think being 10-minutes 'late' is on time.
- Some people think wearing a hat in a building is extremely disrespectful; others consider hats part of the outfit and fashion.
- Some people think saying what's on your mind is helpful and honest; others think it is blunt and disrespectful.
Wherever you stand on any of these types of issues, you must remember that other people think differently because of their culture.
Ways that this really effects someone, though, is when you don't have common terms and language, you can get into very unhelpful situations. Two examples:
- One principal I had thought his job was to listen to any parent, any time. This meant a parent could have a 'conflict' with a teacher; the parent could run from the teacher's room, and talk with the principal. They could be angry and ranting, and do so to the person at the top of the power structure. This helped no one. Often, when a follow up meeting would occur, and the parent would calm down, the incident was past and a tiny misunderstanding was fixed and that was it. The problem was that the principal then judged his teachers based upon the angry responses of parents. His 'culture' told him you had to hear people out. Mine said you don't speak in anger. This led to a lot of problems that need never have happened.
- I heard of a place that accepts students anytime. So if they walk in, they can be enrolled. One teacher signs up anyone for any place, at any time. She does this because she thinks it is helpful. One of her coworkers asks that any student going to the location and program he works at, be informed of the class time and place. He prefers enrolling the students himself. The coworker refuses to honor his request, and continues enrolling students. She does this because she cannot turn people away. The result, however, is that the other teacher doesn't get to know the student. She judges him as unhelpful, never asking why he likes it that way. He likes to enroll students himself, because when he does, he can get them set with everything they need, and show them the processes of class. He finds this more helpful. With no dialogue, people slip through the cracks.
These situations can be difficult, because they come with tension. This tension, though, we must live with. You don't have to agree with someone to respect the fact that they have an opinion. We all do. Just remember, there is always a flip-side.