My friends and I enjoy a lot of the same music. We can listen to and love the same songs for the same reasons – we have this experience we share and understand, together. Now, try to explain that to someone who doesn’t like the same music. It’s almost impossible! And yet, we can appreciate that this other person may have a similar experience with their own favorite music.
Music is a metaphor for connection. A colleague told me a story from a recent trip that illustrates this.
Her family was vacationing in Florida over the Holidays. While the kids played, she slipped away to an outdoor pavilion for a little time alone. Quietly enjoying herself, she hardly noticed the clouds that had gathered until the skies opened with a sudden burst of rain. Vacation-goers scrambled to get under cover and her seating area quickly became crowded. Looking around, she was surrounded by people who looked nothing like her, people she would not ordinarily associate with. She noticed an elderly couple catching their breath and, as is typical of her character, she graciously got up and offered them her seat. She was thanked by them, as well as another couple who observed this kind act. Conversation followed, and the normal pleasantries were exchanged. A television in the background played national news and caught the attention of one of her new-found friends. The conversation suddenly turned to less-pleasant but ever-present topics we see on the news.
Our friend found herself aware that she had entered into a discussion with someone who didn’t just have a very different viewpoint from hers, but was deeply passionate about that viewpoint. In fact at several moments, she could have easily become offended by the colorful comments she heard. Instead, she chose to listen respectfully, seeking to understand. When the timing was right, she began to ask some thoughtful questions. Together, they discussed difficult issues, seeking to separate fact from fiction. They discussed news outlets and how each “side” is always influenced by its own agendas. It became the kind of conversation that leaves one thinking deeply about one’s own point of view from a bigger picture, and feeling as though you’ve been treated with respect because you chose to show respect.
As the conversation drew to a close our friend said, “My hope for 2019 is that we can all be more courageous. It is my sincere wish that each of us can ask questions that help us understand other points of view. If we only listen to what we want to hear, we will not know the other side of the story.”
She had built a bridge where one was needed. She did so not by seeking to change them, but to come together with each understanding the other a little better. While they may have been on different sheets of music, they found a connection between the notes, each enriched as a result.
She had enjoyed and learned from the encounter, so much so that she had to call me to relay this tale. And now, I’m passing it on to you. May we each be courageous enough to step out of our comfort zone and hear another other point of view. May we get to know our neighbors a little better in this New Year of Opportunity.
As president, Daniel leads the team at TRP Enterprises to help inspire and uplift through world-class training programs.