45. Shifting your perspective

Mama S here. Yesterday was a day like any other. I was at work and had a bunch of meetings where I can walk attorneys through a piece of software they don’t want and has less information than the one we are replacing. I got to work and looked at my calendar and saw a name that gave me a shudder. For 3 weeks I have been told many things about this person. They are grumpy, they nitpick everything, that if they say something positive is the time to worry, etc. I told someone I had a call with her that day and they cringed and said they were sorry to push them off on me. I took a deep breath and walked back to my office in dread. I picked up the phone, dialed into the conference line and decided I was going to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Yes, very senior people had warned me about them. Yes, peers had told me horror stories. Yes, I had an email from them that made my stomach lurch. In spite of all that I decided to go into the call with a positive attitude and show her everything I love about the system and help her see it too. I was prepared for aggression, but I was going in with kindness.

Wouldn’t you know it, they came into the call in a way that lived up to their reputation, but after about 45 seconds of kindness and firm chat, and they were LAUGHING with me!  I hung up the phone sincerely hoping that they reach out to me the next time they need help with something as I genuinely enjoyed my time with them.

Can you believe it? It took under 2 minutes to show this person that I wasn’t going to come at them strong and battle them. I was going to meet them where they were, address their fears and concerns and walk them through the process after they were reassured and felt listened to. Imagine if we treated more people that way. Imagine if we took the time to ignore the preconceived notions and meet everyone where they are and help them get to where we need them to be.

This is what I attribute our success with P. From the day she came to live with us, we have met her where she is at. She came to us as a pre-teen with the social skills and personal care skills of a toddler. Rather than expecting her to operate as we would a peer of hers, we met her where she was at and let her know that it is ok to be where she is and that we will help her to get to age level.

There have been times where we get frustrated because we are looking at the body of a pre-teen and there are inherent expectations around what a pre-teen can and can’t do and we have to stop, talk, understand where she is at, and then devise a plan to help her feel successful while growing into the expectation.

This may look odd to people outside our home. There are some expectations that we have that are “better suited” to a 5 year old and we have them for our pre-teen. People give us quizzical looks and ask questions. Many don’t understand. Most try to. I explain it the say way I did the story above. It doesn’t matter who the person is, what OUR expectations are, we should always strive to see where that person is at in their journey and modify our approach to help them be successful.

My call yesterday could have gone horribly. I could have gone into the call with the attitude of everyone I spoke with and went toe to toe with this person, but what would that have accomplished? Yes, you can go toe to toe with your kids, spouse, friends, neighbors, etc. but what does that accomplish? 2 people that are feeling frustrated and maybe one party feels like they “won”. I challenge you to take a moment to think about your thoughts and how you are going into an interaction and see how your words/thoughts/actions are impacting the situation (either good or bad) and think about how you could modify your approach for a more successful outcome for everyone.

If we can do it with a kiddo with extreme defiance and attention struggles, and I can do it with the “office grump”, you can try it with your family and friends.

Please, share with us what your thoughts are, if you tried or didn’t and why, what the results were. It is always interesting to hear from other people too!

Until next time!

Mama S

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