You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

You Dont Know What You Dont Know dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher coach consultant

(Or You Don’t Know Diddley Squat)

The older I get the more I realize that I have a lot to learn. Just when you think you know all about something, you find out that there is another twist. Even when you think you know someone really well, they can surprise you.

Recently I was coaching an executive and we were talking about what was true. He said he was telling the truth and the other person in question was lying.  I asked, “Do you think he THINKS he was telling the truth?” He said, “Well, maybe.”  My point was, you have your truth and I have mine, and the real truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

People think there are two sides to a coin (like an argument), but there are really three. In the case of the coin there is heads, tails, and the edge.  The edge is where we seem to lose our perspective. Perhaps we are so bent on being right that we can’t even acknowledge the slight possibility that someone else is right and we are wrong. That perspective is what costs people their marriages, their jobs, and relationships in general.

Now, to complicate things, I do believe in certain moral absolutes that are always right or always wrong. The Ten Commandments were true in the days of Moses and they are still true today. Of course, there are some people out there that don’t believe in any absolutes, and I would politely disagree with them. But this discussion is not about moral absolutes. That is my disclaimer.  LOL.

We really don’t know what is going on in the heads and hearts of other people, do we?  For Pete’s sake, we don’t even know what is going on in our OWN heads and hearts at times!

My point here is simple.  You don’t know what you don’t know, so be willing to ask if you expect to grow. It is living in the land of assumptions that gets us into all kinds of trouble. You don’t know what is going on in someone else’s life most of the time. Even your close friends might not tell you everything that is going on. I have had friends, when I ask them why they did not tell me something say, “I just did not want to worry you.” Have you ever heard that or a variation of it? I bet you have.

So, here is the solution to understanding one another:

  • Don’t assume you know what someone is thinking or why they did what they did. Ask them, then just listen without accusing them. Try to look through their eyes.
  • Cut people some slack for being human. We all have our days where we might want to go a little cray-cray. I saw a funny sign recently.  It said, “You can tell a lot about how a woman feels by observing her hands…especially if she is holding a gun.”  Always observe nonverbal communication and guns in particular. LOL
  • If someone else is acting crazy does not give you an excuse to go crazy. Somebody has to act like an adult.  It might as well be you.
  • Respect and obey the law. We have seen enough people in the news who want to blame the law for their bad behavior. My rule for getting along with the police is simple: Do what they tell you to do. Period. Most of us could not and would not be willing to walk a mile in their shoes. I sincerely appreciate those who put their lives on the line for us daily, whether it is the police, the military, or firemen. I thank them every chance I get. I think we all at least had a bit of compassion for the policeman in McKinney when we found out he and just handled two suicide cases before he got called to the illegal pool party. I am not justifying his response which could have and should have been handled better, but I do have compassion for him and his family that I might not have had had I not heard more of the story.

The bottom line is, if we want to get along with one another, we have to be open to hearing the truth from someone else’s perspective. It is either that, or we need to each find an island where nobody else lives and move there. Some days we all opt for finding the island, but till then…Shalom!

Dan Skognes

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