I love meeting, learning about, listening to, watching and studying people. I think the human experience is fascinating.
My husband and son and I attended an amazing arts festival in San Antonio, TX yesterday set on the grounds of a 150-year old convent. There were people there of all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, all soaking up great food, aguas frescas, amazing art from around the U.S. incredible music and shade from century-old oak trees.
The three of us relaxed on the grass and rested near a beautiful 7-foot tall stone waterfall sculpture. Nearby, families laughed and squabbled, couples kissed, talked and drank beer and children ran every which way.
I love people and my work as a career and life balance coach over the last nine years has opened up and expanded my heart like I could have never imagined. Hearing executives, artists, sales directors, public policy advocates, moms, software developers and HR leaders share their insecurities, vulnerabilities and fears around their careers and lives, really makes you realize we’re all “one” and truly desire the same things in our lives (once we’re able to get in touch with this).
I’ve had some really difficult—yet amazing—learning experiences lately with people (really whom I barely knew), that have taught me a lot about how I see people: what I call my lens or filter for how I choose to view and interact with those around me.
My husband calls my view a “positive prejudice.” What makes me a really good coach—my ability to hold possibility/potential for others and to be very caring, acccessible & open—sometimes affects me adversely in my day-to-day interactions.
I always expect the best from people and I tend to expect their interactions with me to be on the level at which I interact with them, rather than just meeting them where they’re at. I also have a naturally compassionate orientation, which often spills over into all my interactions with people—regardless of how well I know someone.
I’ve really had some “ah-has” lately around this and how this “positive prejudice” (for lack of a better word) impacts my life. Don’t worry, I’m not becoming cynical or losing hope or optimism, but am I becoming more observant and aware about my patterns.
I think we all have general biases (even if they’re very subtle) about how we tend to think about everything–particularly people. I have some friends who tend to be distrustful or cynical about others, some who think everyone is always asking “what’s in it for me?”, some who tend to always feel inferior—or superior—to their neighbors, some who feel we’re all here to help each other and others who feel as if we’re all essentially in our own lifeboats, fighting and struggling to make our way in the world.
What is your lens for how you view others? Before you say, “I wait to get to know people to make any observations,” I’d challenge that belief. Most of us have a general orientation towards the world and toward others. People are ……. (fill in the blank). What is your filter and how does it affect your life experiences (one-on-one and in groups)?
Photo above: Melissa Winkler/The IRC. Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo where this is a horrible war being waged against women. Visit www.theirc.org to learn more about how you can help.