Many of us want to succeed, grow and develop as a whole person, to make a difference because we were here. A critical step forward would be one that helps us be a whole person more of the time. That is, to be seen as a whole, spirited person and not one person at work, another at home and another in the community. Plainly, each of us would like others to see and at least appreciate, if not love the real and whole me, then I could be that person all of the time.
So, if you were a film maker, to help others see the whole, real you, you would just rewrite the old script or create a new script, right? Wrong!
One of the best ways to write or rewrite the script My Life so others see you anew is to unscript how you see others.
Script by unscripting – That sounds crazy, rewriting the script by unwriting the script. Not really, let me explain. If you unscript how you see others, it will not be long before someone says to you:
- “You are really a different sort of person, you see me as I really am,” or
- “You have really changed. I don’t know how or why but it’s as if I am seeing the real you for the first time!”
Now, do I have your full attention (grin)?
Unscripting is about changing how you see people who are not in your mirror.
- It means not judging (seeing) a person based on your past knowledge of people or experience with that person.
- It means not seeing or categorizing a new person according to their race, ethnicity, religion, sex, height, weight, clothing, speech, or how she or he carries him or herself.
Unscripting your views of people means dropping your automatic and usual means of categorizing people, even if it feels a bit awkward.
You may feel awkward or uneasy because these automatic judgments are in part a survival skill born into all creatures, including humans. Being able to predict behavior and whether a situation is dangerous or not is a survival skill we all must have.
When we overextend our need for predictability and apply it simply to make life easier (on the basis of fewer decisions means less work), we not only reduce our ability to adapt (another basic survival skill), we put ourselves behind mental walls or in a mental box that not only prevents us from clearly seeing others but also hide us from others’ view.
Test yourself. How long does it take for you to tag or categorize someone as you watch people enter a public room or building, or walking on the street? And you thought computers were quick. I am willing to bet that each of your judgments will take no more than one or two nanoseconds. Many of your speedy tags or scripts for these people are based on what you expect people to be from how they appear at first glance.
As you watch people walk down the street: this one is a craftsperson (a well-kept man in a clean jumpsuit carrying a toolbox), that one is a day laborer, she is an office worker, she is a government clerk, that one is a religious pilgrim, he is… she is….
We need only consider the first person:
- You only see and react to him as a craftsperson.
- You cannot see him as a brother, uncle, father, a village or district historian and storyteller, someone who won a foot race or scored three goals.
- You don’t see a kind man, a man who has read every book on music in his local library.
- And the important point, that he cannot see you as anything other than another “what” who only sees him as a “what.”
Rewriting the script in practice. So our first step at writing a new script is to do our best to not just see people as “whats.” It will open up new possibilities at work and in the community. As you see and treat people as whole people, so they will see and treat you.
Once, when I had made a really bad mistake in misjudging a person – and paid for it with a bruised eye and nose – I asked my father if he had any good ways of not making the wrong judgment. His reply has served me well.
Look at people’s eyes. Only see their eyes — not how they are dressed, not the shade of their skin, not how they speak. When you look into another person’s eyes, they have to see yours as well.
Then, the first thing they will notice is that you are not looking at how they are dressed, how they are standing, or what they sound like — you are seeing them as a person. And then — they can see you. In the same way — as a whole person.
The new script is based on seeing whole people not whats or used to be. And that lets them see you in a new light as well.
Copyright Ned Hamson, 2005
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