Though my extrovert personality type has helped me a lot to make new friends and have more opportunities, it has also gotten in my way when it comes to being tactful and considerate.
With so much energy and passion stacked up within me, I basically always felt it difficult to just stop for a few moments and think through what I’m going to say and if my words will in any way be offensive towards the other person(s).
A few days ago me and Adriana were enjoying yet another beautiful day of this year’s winter holidays by participating to several group activities. On that one day, I managed to unintentionally be mean to two of the people that I care about dearly.
Luckily for me, Adriana’s understanding of what others are or might be feeling is way superior to mine. Also, she cares a lot about what other people think and how her words or actions might upset them.
All my life I’ve been doing and saying whatever I believed to be right. That sounds ok, but the problem is that I wasn’t always right. I would occasionally do or say things, even though it might offend someone. Why? Because I did not develop a special skill called empathy.
That day I realised that empathy is a skill, just like any other, and that my level of mastery was way below of what it should be taking into consideration the quality of people I spend my time with and my goals.
Think of what it means to them
Adriana pointed out to me that something that’s worthless to me might be priceless for someone else, so I should never say or do things that diminish or minimize the importance of other people’s things, thoughts or gestures.
The challenge here is that I don’t do it intentionally! I just say somethings and later realize that I managed to offend someone. When I was younger I actually admired people, like my aunt or mother, that would speak their minds in any circumstance.
I thought that people who freely expressed themselves had higher standards and would not give in to societies rules. Though I still believe that we should speak our minds, I now see that any idiot can do that, myself included, but that it takes a truly wise person to say what he or she believes in a way that does not offend others.
The golden rule: Level 2
Almost everyone has heard of the golden rule. The rule which says that “one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”
The golden rule has many, many forms that appear over the course of history throughout all cultures, but irrelevant of its form, it is always considered a maximum of the ethical code.
So if we all know or have heard of the rule and some of us actually try to apply it in our own lives, then why do we sometimes still hurt others? Well, I think the answer is quite simple:
We do not see the big picture!
On the day I mentioned earlier, one of my good friends brought us two cakes. One that was obviously filled with added sugar and another with almond creme. I genuinely loved cake before, but knowing just how incredibly bad it was, I decided to make 2015 my year without added sugar. So the cake for me was worthless, but for him it was a way to show love.
My urges made me start a conversation with my friend, asking if the almond pie had sugar or not? The conversation went on with me finding out that, yes, the cake did have sugar and me saying something similar to: Oh, so both cakes are unhealthy. Then I prefer not to eat.
Take an extra second, please
You can imagine that my (inappropriate) comment can easily offend someone that had the honest intention of being generous and caring towards those he loves and make everyone else that ate cake that night feel bad.
Later my angel explained that no one from the table really asked for my opinion, so the moment I found out that both cakes had sugar, I could have just change the subject or say something like “Oh, ok, thanks!” and stop talking.
The second time I messed up was when another friends did something he shouldn’t have. The act itself was sort of funny so everyone had a nice laugh, but then someone said something hilarious (in my opinion) and I started laughing out loud.
What should have been a friendly “escape” for someone, I managed to turn into a fiasco and ended up making my friend feel even worse. Adriana told me that she also found the comment super funny, but did not want the other person to think that we’re laughing of him.
In both situations, if I would have stopped, just for a second, to see the big picture, I wouldn’t have made my friends nor myself feel bad. If we would all give ourselves a few extra moments to think clearly, the world would be a different place.
Of course the next day I apologised to both of them. Which I believe we all should do if we somehow offended someone, whether it was intentionally or unintentionally.
This is officially my 50th article! Wow! I’m so excited! Somehow, between the hundreds of other activities and responsibilities, I managed to find the time to write 50 articles! This is truly a great achievement for me and, as I mentioned before, in 2015, I want to get that number up to 150!
I hope that this article, and the 49 before it, have opened your mind a bit and made your life a bit better.
Creating a better tomorrow,