Sticking To Our Guns

The phrase “stick to your guns” originated as a command given to sailors who manned guns on military boats, meaning they were to stay by their posts rather than seek cover, even when the boat was under attack.  Today it means to hold onto your convictions and stand up for your beliefs, even when others disagree or the evidence points to the contrary.  Unfortunately, it seems like too many people are choosing to stick to their guns these days, whether it is over issues of national importance or in their personal lives.

It’s one thing to be stubborn and insist on having things go your way frequently, but it’s another for a person to insist that he or she is right or has all the answers and correct viewpoints all the time too.  Some people just need to be right all the time, which makes them very difficult to work with and be around.

Unfortunately, I have plenty of experience with people like this, and there’s not a whole lot anyone can do to get them to consider that anyone else might know more about something than they do or be better at something than they are.  And forget trying to get them to see a different perspective.  Once they’ve made up their mind about something, it seems they only see and hear things through a filter that supports what they originally decided was the correct viewpoint or interpretation of a situation.  That makes it even more difficult to get them to see things differently, because they have built up a mound of incorrect evidence in their own minds.  Plus, the more anyone tries to convince them that they are wrong or maybe partially wrong, the more they dig in their heels and insist they are right.

Ironically, when it comes to an issue of national importance, gun control is a perfect example of people “sticking to their guns.”  I’ve seen plenty of statistics comparing the fifty states regarding gun violence vs how strict their gun laws are, which show that states with stricter laws have less gun violence.  I’ve also seen similar statistics about other countries such as Japan and Australia where they have much stricter gun laws than the United States and hardly any incidences of gun violence. I’m a numbers person, so that’s what helps form my opinion on various matters.  What I have NOT seen is statistics backing up the notion that more guns = less gun violence or more guns = a safer society.

I am also thinking about how the laws have changed over the years pertaining to what we are allowed to bring on an airplane. Each time there is an incident involving a box cutter, knife, bomb, or anything else, the rules and regulations get stricter and stricter. Even a dog getting put in an overhead bin gets a new law passed within a few days.  No one balks at these laws and we all follow the new procedures, even though it makes packing for and boarding an airplane take longer.  That’s because we know that planes are now extremely safe, and there is no need to fear getting killed or injured on an airplane or having it hijacked.  People are not insisting that we all be allowed to board the plane with a knife, gun, and box cutter, just in case anyone else on the plane pulls one out so that we can defend ourselves.  And no one is insisting that stewardesses be armed with these weapons, just in case, either. Furthermore, no one is thinking that because they are not allowed to bring guns or any of these these items on a plane, that they are not allowed to possess them at all, ever.  Their second amendment rights are not being infringed upon.  But, when it comes to common sense gun laws outside of a plane, somehow the same reasoning goes out the window.  Then it makes much more sense to many people that any limitation on gun sales is somehow infringing on their right to bear arms, and that more people carrying guns, particularly teachers, makes much more sense.  I don’t get it, and the statistics don’t seem to back those ideas up, but the more anyone tries to convince someone who thinks along these lines, the more they “stick to their guns.”

It seems like there are so many issues today where people dig in their heels, regardless of what the numbers indicate or the majority of people agree with.  The need to be right overshadows the need for facts or considering other positions or viewpoints.  This only leads to us being more divided and less united than ever as a country.

I think the same can be said for our personal lives too.  There is too much conflict because there are too many people not willing to listen to others because they are already experts on everything and have a difficult time admitting that maybe they aren’t.  Or maybe it’s just people in my personal life, but I don’t think so.   If you are one who tends to do more talking than listening and who needs to be right or have all the answers, perhaps it would be worth making the effort to be a better listener and consider that other people sometimes have a good idea or a valid perspective too.  Being open-minded is a good quality in my book.

Walk Out vs. Walk Up

The National School Walkout Day was this week, a day that was intended to be partly a memorial for the victims of the Parkland shooting and partly a day for teenage activism against gun violence.  I saw many different videos and descriptions of how various schools chose to participate.  I also heard about districts that threatened suspension for any student who did walk out.  Some schools had very organized events supported by administration, while others were more of a protest handled strictly by students.  As usual, there were very opposing views of what they day was all about and how it should be handled.

Likewise, I saw many social media posts urging the students to INSTEAD “Walk Up”, meaning walk up to someone who typically sits alone at the lunch table and invite them to sit with you, or walk up to someone and just say something nice, or anything along those lines.  The idea being that many of the shooters in these mass shootings have been loners who are angry because they have been excluded and are trying to get even.  So if we all make more of an effort to be more inclusive, then perhaps that will be a preventative measure.  Even without factoring in the shootings, focusing on being more kind and inclusive is always a good thing, so I like the idea.

What I don’t understand is why it has to be one OR the other.  What’s wrong with the students protesting peacefully in order to have their concerns and opinions heard AND making a conscious effort to be more inclusive and kind?  The two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with so many issues today though, where so many people focus on one particular facet of what they believe the solution should be and don’t understand that one thing alone is not going to solve the problem.  Gun violence is a perfect example.  Stricter gun control is one option that seems to be successful in many other countries, which many people support.  But there are plenty of people who believe the answer is more guns.  And there are those who think we need to focus on bringing attention and more resources to mental health issues.  Then there is the devaluing of human life because of the exposure to violence and trauma either in real life or in video games, television, and movies that many think is the biggest contributing factor.

The problem is that there is not necessarily one thing we can blame and that needs to be changed.  We don’t have to focus on guns OR mental health, for example.  It all needs to be addressed.  But when people retreat to their corners and only want to focus on the one issue they think is most important or the only solution, then we will not make as much progress with this issue as we need to.  Or any others for that matter.  People need to be more open-minded and more willing to consider ALL of the aspects of this or any other issue that needs to be addressed and make it a priority to set aside our differences and work together to make some significant progress.  If we all continue to “stick to our guns” regardless of the evidence to the contrary and only focus on one aspect of the problem, we will go nowhere.

Incorrect Assumptions

I realized recently that the people in my life who think I spend a lot of time correcting them or others are the same people who frequently make incorrect assumptions about plenty of things.  Sometimes the incorrect assumptions are made about details pertaining to logistics, situations, or decisions being made.  Other times they are about my intentions, what I am thinking, what I am trying to say, how I will react to things, and so on.  Very few things bother me more than being completely misunderstood, having my intentions incorrectly being perceived as negative when they are not, and being accused of things I am not doing.

It’s very frustrating trying to have a conversation with someone who constantly interrupts me in order to respond defensively because they THINK they know what I am going to say and that it will be something negative, especially when I am not ever given the chance to say what I had intended.  Perhaps they think I am trying to tell them they won’t be able to do something they want to do, or sometimes they are assuming there is some hidden negative implication like I am trying to tell them they shouldn’t be doing something.  Often it is perceived that I am trying to criticize someone or control a particular situation when that is not my intent at all.  Not even close.  It is equally as frustrating to have a conversation with someone who responds to most of what I say with assumptions that are very incorrect, rather than ask questions and listen to all of what is being said before jumping in with the assumptions.  That means I spend a chunk of my end of the conversation correcting the misinformation they created and believe to be true.

Unfortunately, too many people listen to others with whatever filter they have formulated in their head based on their perception of the person or situation, and they hear only what they want to hear and see what they want to see that backs up their opinion or preconceived notion, which just adds to that incorrect perspective.  It’s very hard to undo that, especially if that person is not open-minded and objects to hearing anything that will negate their viewpoint.

Ironically, I don’t like having to correct people, but the perception is that I do because it becomes necessary when people are making such incorrect assumptions so frequently.  So it has become one more incorrect assumption that all I want to do is correct people.  When it comes to my intentions that are being questioned though, I am going to correct someone every time.

I’ve come to REALLY appreciate the people in my life who respect me enough to listen when I talk and take what I am saying or asking at face value without adding their own interpretation of what I might be implying, when in fact, I am often not implying anything at all.  Some people just like to find negatives where there aren’t any, and I don’t enjoy being around those people very much.  I’d rather surround myself with people who actually bother to hear what I have to say without putting words in my mouth or thoughts in my head that they will then hold against me … forever.  That leads to a lot less stress, drama, negativity, misunderstandings, misinformation, and necessary corrections.  Life is a whole lot easier when we give people the benefit of the doubt and are willing to hear each other out.

Honesty

Honesty is something some of my family members seem to struggle with, whether it is out and out lying, being deceitful, or purposely withholding information to be manipulative.  I have a child who prides himself on how sneaky he can be getting away with things, and he very much reminds me of his dad who has modeled that behavior for him over the years.  And he learned it from his family growing up, along with how to manipulate people, which he has also tried to pass on to the kids.  I’m sorry, but that isn’t a family trait to be proud of, how good of a liar you are or how good you are at being deceitful.

The thing is, there’s really no need for all of this.  Part of the problem is there is an assumption made that whatever it is that they want, they are going to get told no, so then they start scheming to figure out how to get what they want at all costs.  It’s more important to get what they want regardless of how many lies they have to tell in the process.  I am always more upset at the lies and the scheming than whatever else.  And much of the time, I would be agreeable to what they want in the first place, so it’s really not necessary.  I am a very straight forward person who doesn’t like to play games, so I would rather just have them tell me what’s going on or what they want and talk about options than to deal with all the dishonesty.

Another part of the problem is that they expect to always get what they want, which can’t possibly happen.  But I would be more apt to have it work out that they get what they want if there was more of an effort on their part to be honest, work together, and not react like a spoiled kid when they don’t get their way.  My work has been cut out for me trying to teach the kids that it’s better to be upfront and willing to compromise and earn what you want than find an underhanded way to get it with what their dad and his family has modeled for them.

Unfortunately, this is not just isolated to my family members.  I have experienced this with other people as well, even people who I have hired to do work at my house.  A big part of having integrity is has to do with how honest you are and whether you are willing to admit that you made a mistake, especially when you are providing a service for someone.  Trying to cover up your mistakes or keep from being caught in a lie, especially if it is going to make someone else look bad in the process, is never a good idea.  It’s even worse than just plain lying in my book, but I have been on the receiving end of that too.

None of us are perfect and never tell a lie, and sometimes there is a good reason to keep a secret or withhold some information to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or to protect someone somehow, but just to be manipulative and get what you want is not a good reason.  Every time we as parents tell a lie in front of our kids, no matter how small it is, is setting the example for them that’s it’s OK to do that.  So we need to be very conscious of how often and in what circumstances we are doing that and then explain that to them as well.  If we are always trying to get away with things and not follow the rules or are trying to cheat the system, then we can’t be surprised when are kids end up doing the same thing.

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.  If you would like to read future posts, please follow the blog or my Facebook page.

The Dance of Non-Verbal Communication

I have been taking a couple’s dance class recently, which has been making me think about the importance of non-verbal communication.  It is absolutely imperative in social dancing.  The man has to clearly communicate what he wants the woman to do, and she needs to be able to interpret things correctly in order to follow his non-verbal directions.  That is such a perfect metaphor for any kind of relationship because both communicating and interpreting are very important.

Some people give off very few non-verbal cues as to what they are thinking or feeling. That makes them hard to read and can lead to confusion, playing guessing games, or even tip-toeing around issues because the other person may not know how that person will react.  That’s been my experience, anyway.  On the other hand, I have experience with people who give off almost too much non-verbal communication.   Continue reading

Taking Suggestions

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Not everyone is good at taking suggestions from others for a variety of reasons.  Some people I know who are like this either think they have all the answers, they want to figure out all of their problems on their own, or they don’t like admitting they were wrong about something or did anything wrong.  If they do listen to others, they may not really hear what is being said.  It becomes difficult to be around people who are like this except for in small doses because, in a nutshell, they are self-centered and are not inclusive.

It is challenging to talk to people who only want to hear what they themselves have to say and who don’t want to consider other people’s ideas or feelings.  I end up feeling like nothing I say will ever have any validity in their eyes.  I react in one of two ways, depending on who it is and how often I have to interact with them.  I either feel compelled to keep trying to get my point across, whether I have to be blunt or very tactful, or I completely give up because it is pointless.

If you don’t want to include others’ during meetings for your organization because you don’t ever ask for their input in the form of ideas, opinions, or their vote, then don’t be surprised if they stop coming because they wanted to be involved but didn’t feel like they could be.  I have seen this plenty of times with various organizations of which I have been a part.  Those organizations that go overboard to make people feel welcome and included thrive because people are willing to put forth the effort to make things happen.  The ones where those at the top want to make all the decisions and tell everyone else how things should be lose people left and right, and the same few people end up doing more than they should.  Yet, they wonder why more people don’t just flock right in.  Word of mouth travels quickly, and people can easily be rubbed the wrong way if they perceive you are more interested in yourself or your agenda than theirs or the whole of the group.

If you are expecting others to always be there for you but are not willing to be there for others, then you need to change your ways.  If you can’t ever own up to any mistakes that you might have made or admit that you are at least sometimes part of the problem, then you can’t expect things to improve.  If you are not open to constructive criticism or making any changes, especially when you have asked for feedback, then you really can’t wonder why things never change.  Furthermore, if you have been given feedback about how your actions or attitude has negatively impacted a situation or other people and you not only continue to keep doing the same thing but your behavior becomes even worse as a result, you may be pushing someone away because you refuse to listen.  Stubbornness often doesn’t pay, and no one has all the answers or great ideas.

I think all of this boils down to how much of a “me” person you are and whether you are more of a giver or taker.  If you are thinking about yourself most of the time and how you can have your needs met, then you will most likely have these behaviors.  If you instead think about how you can meet the needs of others and understand by meeting their needs you may get your own needs met in return, then you are likely to get better results.  Really listening to the feedback people are giving you, whether you asked for it or not, is key.

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.  If you would like to read future posts, please follow the blog or my Facebook page.

Perception Being Reality

perspective 2It’s amazing how much stress and conflict in my life actually stems from someone’s perception being different from reality.  Most of the time, it is someone’s intentions that are perceived incorrectly, and usually it is assumed the intentions are far worse than what they really were.  For example, a suggestion I make will get interpreted as me trying to control things or have things my way, when in reality I am just trying to be helpful.  I catch myself making assumptions about intentions too sometimes, but it is usually because the other person has established a pattern of behavior demonstrating they can’t be trusted, make promises they have no intention of keeping, or other not so great behaviors.

It’s very easy to assume the worst and not give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, it is important to act in such a way that demonstrates that one can be trusted and has integrity and good intentions.  Trust and respect are both qualities that are easy to lose and difficult to regain, and we need to keep that in mind both with our own behavior and being willing to allow others to redeem themselves.  Not being so quick to judge their intentions is important too.

Sometimes two people can perceive the same situation differently and both be correct … or perhaps neither be correct.   Continue reading