“Change the way you look at things,
and the things you look at change.”
– Wayne Dyer, American author (1940- )
That means he likes to take things apart and put them back to together. He loves figuring out what makes them work. He also pays attention to detail and notices the little things.
I, on the other hand, tend to focus on ideas and people. I like figuring out what makes people do what they do.
So I sometimes overlook things like drops of water that hit the hardwood floor in the kitchen when I’m cleaning up the dishes.
But he doesn’t.
He used to sigh and get exasperated because he’d already asked me multiple times before to be more careful when I was loading the plates and glasses in the dishwasher.
And I used to get annoyed that he’d be so picky.
Today we’re able to laugh about it when he grabs a paper towel to wipe up some of my “droppings.”
But getting to that point required dialogue and a change in perspective.
One day I asked him why this (to me) seemingly innocuous action evoked such a negative reaction from him.
What I learned forever changed the way I viewed my own actions as well as his reactions.
The first thing he pointed out was that water and hardwood flooring are not compatible. (We will never put hardwood in a kitchen again.) Water can cause permanent spots, and enough of it will warp the wood. So from a practical perspective, it makes sense to keep water off.
But his concern went deeper than that.
By not being more careful, I was sending two messages that were hurtful to him:
1. I’m ignoring your request. It doesn’t matter to me that this is important to you.
2. I’m not concerned about what happens to our home and property. I was inadvertently violating one of his core values: Take care of what you own.
Did he actually make these two points? Not in so many words.
I had to really listen and ask questions to uncover what lay beneath the surface.
Through that effort, I came to realize the WHY behind his reaction.
I apologized, assured him that I now understood why he felt that way he did, and made a commitment to be more careful going forward.
But I’m not perfect, and that’s why he still keeps a paper towel handy. Just in case.
Too often, we make assumptions about another’s motivation. We interpret their words and actions through our personal filter. And often we’re wrong.
Unless we invest the time and energy to peel back the layers and discover their real WHY, we may never know what’s really going on in another person’s mind.
We can waste a lot of time and energy wishing the other person were different (more like us).
If, instead, we adopt the wisdom of Wayne Dyer, if we change the way we look at things – and other people – those things will indeed change because we change.
We appreciate and value the differences. We acknowledge another’s right to have a different perspective from ours, without feeling threatened or getting defensive. We listen with an open mind to what’s important to them so we understand their needs and wants.
And as a result of changing our perspective, we consciously strengthen our relationships and create a more positive life experience for ourselves.