The Cycle of Openness – How to Improve Interpersonal Relationships

An old college friend who is now a college basketball coach tweeted:

You can’t build trust with people until you let them know who you are & what you stand for.

So many thoughts surrounding that one little tweet!

I’ve written before about how “Just being me was all I had to do”. It was inspired by an episode of HBO’s ‘Inside Comedy’ featuring Keenan Ivory Wayans, and the post title is a direct quote from the episode.

Wayans attributed his massive success to his ability to get up on stage and be completely honest about his life. He saw that the more he put himself “out there,” the more opportunities there were for people to connect with him. His willingness to share gave people insight to what it meant to walk in his shoes, and cleared a path that ended up being common ground between him and people from all walks of life.

Finding commonality can do SO MUCH to connect us, help us see each other’s humanity, make things a little less contentious… just the simple understanding of where a person is coming from, rather than judging it for being different than our own experience, can make us able to resolve conflict. [And “conflict” merely means variance, not having a problem.Problems arise when conflict isn’t handled well.]

Finding common ground allows for the Venn Diagrams that ARE our lives overlap.

I called those “Me too!” Moments, but then Alyssa Milano went and ruined that name by using the same hashtag to talk about sexual harassment on Twitter. (Please, read that with sarcasm–i know that the discussion about sexual harassment is INCREDIBLY necessary & will gladly shank any mofo who needs a lesson in respect. It just made my “Me Too!” Moments theory of friendship look like piddle.)

It’s important to note that being open works both ways, too–not only does it help to be open in a sharing srnse; it’s crucial to be open to receiving information as well.

I see so many problems stem from the inability, unawareness, or unwillingness of people to entertain viewpoints that are different from their own. Race is an easy example–so many white people don’t have the same experience as blacks, & many discrimination issues fall on deaf ears became of it. I see it on Twitter. I see it when women speak out about pay equality, sexual harassment, hopes and dreams…

So often, we are blind to that which we don’t know to see. It’s hard to see things from views that aren’t our own. So, the best we can do is be open and willing to have compassion.

For teams, compassion should be easy. The word, at its root, means “to struggle with.” Teams have opponents to struggle against TOGETHER, and a set stage on & context within which they hash it out. [Sure,egos & personalities may clash, but a good coach can keep those problems at-bay and put all the focus on the team’s ultimate goals.]

In regular life, though, the terms of conflicts are more vague. The teams are more convoluted. Peoples’ definitions of “right” and “winning” & the frames of references we all base those on are as numerous & unique as each of our fingerprints. Because of that, finding common ground becomes a wee bit more difficult.

But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. In fact, the fact that we are faced with great interpersonal challenges means there is an equally-great opportunity to meet them and do greater things with and within our lives.

Having had an old, white country boy who loved me with every fiber of his being cuz we were each other’s people helped me understand the amazing power of answering one little question (and clicking on it to read the post):

How Much of Myself Can I Recognize In Others?