every Monday morning i go to the same Starbucks after i drop my kids off for their one day of classes with a homeschool enrichment group. i pay way too much for a coffee that will probably give me diabetes and revel in the start to my 7 hours of freedom. but i’m not the only one who’s there every Monday before 9am. there’s the group of older business men who take up the comfy chairs and make handshake deals about God knows what, the very friendly and always smiling guy in the wheelchair, at least 3 other nondescript people with macbooks like me and two guys who are working on a start up media marketing firm with a focus on visual media for conferences and the internet networking of multinational corporations.
did that last one sound oddly specific? it’s because i sit next to these two most days and they aren’t exactly quiet.
they will be my example today. we will call them Stan and Ollie. Stan is short, round and convinced he’s smarter than Ollie. Ollie is tall, slim, clearly intelligent, but easily bullied by Stan.
while discussing the ins and outs of getting their fledgling business off the ground, Stan delivers a plan that is obviously a serious departure from what they had originally agreed to. with the power of bar graphs and meticulous notes, Ollie points out how Stan is veering from their chosen course of action.
Stan says, “i don’t remember any of that” and plows on with the new plan. it was a dismissal of facts that was both masterful and shocking in its execution. it was done with authority and confidence and left Ollie clearly doubting his own sanity even though he had 2 copies of their business plan on his side.
do i for one second think Stan actually forgot what was clearly weeks worth of preparation? duh. no. what he was doing is something i see happening in all kinds of relationships.
he was withholding understanding. it’s a classic strategy employed by those who only want to hear their own opinion. they deny what you’re saying as being so far off they can’t even comprehend it and wah-la! argument over; at least in the mind of those who are like my Starbucks table-neighbor, Stan.
if the point you are trying to make or reasons you give have any basis in truth, but cut against what the other person wants to do or believe or feel, they will choose to not understand what you’re saying or dismiss it outright.
i could write out an awesomely effective list of how to not be Stan, but the answer is really pretty simple. if you truly care about someone, you will strive for understanding in all things, not avoid it to suit your own ends. you will listen and keep you big yap shut. you will try to put yourself in the other persons size 10s and consider what they have to say as more important than your own pride.
if you are more like Ollie, you’re going to have to find your voice and not allow yourself to be bullied. it’s not a battle for dominance, it’s an insistence on respect. you need to be very specific about how you expect to be treated. if the other person can not or will not do that, you need to move on to someone who will. you can only fix you. do not sell yourself so short that you are afraid to be without someone who will never respect what you have to say. if they respond with regret, apology and a change in behavior, then awesome. you may have reached a turning point in your relationship that heads to Healthytown.
having you ever been in a situation where you know what you’re saying is right but the other person refuses to acknowledge it?
have you ever been the one to withhold understanding?
should i sneakily flick tiny pieces of pumpkin bread at Stan and make him flail like a crazy person?
who are the people you meet in a Starbucks?