I like to begin class with a Q/A. A Q/A is a question or an idea to be explored. Here is an example:
Q/A: “ I don’t like that man. I’m going to have to get to know him better”. Abraham Lincoln. Explain why getting to know a person you don’t necessarily like is a wise idea or a foolish idea.
Here’s the wisdom. We have friends that we are comfortable with because we have a history of positive contact that over time has built trust. The above Abraham Lincoln statement is about dealing with that difficult person in our life. Someone we don’t necessarily like and prefer to avoid because we don’t want conflict. This person could be someone we work with, a neighbor, a student of ours, a relative, a boss, our child. You get the picture; someone in our life we have a relationship with. Abraham Lincoln’s statement suggests there is a choice to make. This can be a Friend Relationship or an Enemy Relationship. You don’t want an enemy.
Q/A: How can you make an enemy in 3 easy steps?
Step 1. Have a significant negative experience. Anyone have a one of those? How did you respond?
A. Did you try to relieve the tension? Be kind, patient, understanding and if possible add a little humor? In the midst of stress/ ugliness, those behaviors will endear you to others. Kindness will always be remembered and appreciated.—-
B. Did you become angry, self righteous and belittling? Behavior which can lead to a potential enemy and a cycle of getting even which is only funny in movies but in real life leads to heartaches/lost jobs/more revenge etc. If you are ever been tempted to be angry, self righteous and belittling, remember the old saying “winners never always win, because losers never forget.” They will get you back. It might not be today, or next month, but when it happens you will know who is behind it.
Q/A: Which above behavior (A or B) has the potential of leading to an Enemy Relationship? Explain your answer. B This person was belittling and insulting.
A. Possible friend
Step 2. Make sure your relationship is distant.—
Once you have a negative experience with someone, there is a tendency to distance ourself from that person. We don’t like conflict. We don’t like awkward situations. We don’t like to apologize or admit any guilt. So, instead of getting to know someone better, discovering what makes them likable to others, we avoid each other. Building bridges is hard work. It requires humility. Our default position is first to be proud and selfish. So we become physically, emotionally and conversationally distant.
Physical Distance— you don’t sit with enemies, you don’t eat lunch with enemies, you don’t talk with enemies and you certainly don’t laugh with enemies. You DO check them out by looking for evidence to support a negative expectation.
Emotional Distance—straight face/strained smile, little eye contact, no humor, no laughter, little interest in conversation. (Conversation is a way to get to know a person better, find commonalities and build trust.)
Conversational Distance—no real interest in the other person so the conversation is limited/just business. When there is no laughter or humor there is no intimacy. Intimacy is feelings of trust, friendship and shared empathy.
Step 3. I only talk with my friends, people I like and am comfortable with. It’s easy to talk with friends. It’s not easy to talk with that person I have a negative history with.
Ab Lincoln’s advice is get to know that person. So how do you do that? It won’t be easy. Your reward is a friend not an enemy.
a. you have to overcome a negative experience
b. you have to accept that people (your children, siblings, parents, in-laws, next door neighbor, boss, teacher, students etc.) are a package with a range of good to bad. You look for the good, be extra kind, considerate, sincere, patient. You will find what you are looking for. Treat them the way you want to be treated. This is a test of character—yours.
There is a reward—-you have an unexpected friend.
I like to begin each class with what I call Q/A. I use it for: