If We Look Hard Enough…
I didn’t get along very well with my siblings…just ask them, they’ll tell ‘ya!
My mom, a single parent, grew tired of me and my siblings bickering all the time and would often look up to the heavens and ask,
“What did I do to deserve this?
Can you please help my children love each other?”
This would, naturally, result in eye rolling from us and we would continue to argue, offend each other, do things out of spite, etc.
When I became a teenager, I think my mom finally gave up asking God to intervene because she started doing something new when we fought.
Mom would drag two chairs out from behind the dining table and put them facing each other…close! She would then drag our bickering butts over and sit them in those chairs, facing each other, so close our knees and legs would touch. YUCK!
Mom would then give us our directions:
Don’t look away from each other!
and then, she would offer her final expectation…
Find something to love!
You see, my mom believed that if you looked at someone long enough, you’d always find something to love, to like or, at the very least, to appreciate.
Please note, me and my siblings would sit there for awhile, glaring at each other, rolling our eyes, etc. But, alas, you didn’t disobey my mother for long. She was nearly 6 ft. tall, red headed on the outside and the inside, the eldest of 7 siblings and an Okie! (For those of you who have heard of this combination via southern folklore, you surely know that compliance is the only option!)
Eventually, me or my sibling would break the silence and tell Mom we were ready…and subsequently, she would facilitate a discussion about likes, dislikes, differences, commonalities, etc.
This practice took time, it took patience, and it took work…but it wasn’t long before the trick was no longer needed.
We had absorbed the lesson, we had acquired the skill, and we had embraced the concept.
As a Human Resources Professional, I use my mom’s “trick” all the time!
I don’t make my employees/clients sit and face each other nor do I suggest they touch legs and arms until their will expires…but I do encourage, persuade and sometimes even force them to identify something to appreciate in each other. Or, if the situation is desperate, I start with helping them identify common ground, and then I build from there.
I use this practice in group settings when entire teams are at odds. I use it one-on-one when staff feel the need to complain about their peers or about leadership. And I use it when supervisors are fed up with their staff.
Twenty one years ago this month, my mother passed away. Today, I am grateful for what she inspired me to believe.
I believe that only when we can find the good in others can we learn to work with what we consider as bad;
I believe that only when we appreciate our commonalities can we accept our differences; and
I believe that if we look hard enough at someone, we’ll find something to love.