Well over half the conversations I have are all words. Personal and professional. All reading and responding. I want to say there is no voice in them but each author has their own in black and white. It’s still all words though. Nothing verbal. The only emotions are the ones I assign based on how I know the sender.
I try hard to read everything personal I get as really great news. At the very least I try not to assume those words sent to me and meant for me are negative. When I get a text or an email I take the words literally unless I know the other person is joking.
I’ve said most of that before. Playing games complicates life and I want less complication.
Words can be tricky, though. I do my best when I get a suspect message to pause and see the sender as a whole human being. Just take a minute before I get trigger-finger happy with a response. That pause helps defuse any bomb I think I might be holding. Believe it or not I’ve misread and misunderstood words before and then jumped to nasty conclusions and ended up looking like an ass.
My point is that I do my best to imagine the sender sending cheery communications and that in turn keeps me on positive path when I reply.
In somewhat related news, Biz Stone (one of the founders of Twitter) said a few years back that he was “operating under the assumption” that everybody liked him. I enjoyed reading that because for much of my life I assumed that at least half of everyone was out to get me.
Treating people as if they liked me and as if I liked them did wonders for my relationships. Watch someone’s face light up when you tell them that you’re excited to see them.
After I altered my interactions with people, they in turn started treating me with love and respect. They started being excited to see me as well. And I got to let go of pretty much all of my paranoia.
It’s always good for me to remember that “acting as if” can and will fundamentally change who I am. And also that I’m never going to be able to “will” away paranoia and friends. I need to find a positive behavior to practice instead of trying to force myself to give up a negative one.
And so then what started me writing this correspondence to you guys is this other guy I traded work emails with for years. And because I knew he could be a jerk in person I assumed most of what he wrote to be jerky as well. The communications were an exercise in combat. Mental conflicts that were simply exhausting. I ended up dreading each time I got a notification ding.
Now some time has passed and I’ve gotten a little separation and I wonder what our conversations would’ve been like if I just pretended that everything he wrote came from a good place. I’m 99% sure that it didn’t just because I knew how he could be back that, but every now and then I “pontificate” how the dynamics would’ve change if I would’ve simply changed my point of view.
Read and responded to everything he sent like we were working toward the same goal. Maybe even that his words were “really great news.”
If instead of seeing him as hostile, I just saw him as a person who liked me. If instead of reading his words as angry, I read them as happy. Regardless of his intent.
I was hesitant to do that when I had the chance. Even though I think it’s a worthy cause, I also think there’s a damn good chance I’d have just come across as sarcastic or snide.
It’s too late for me to have a better relationship with that guy now but it’s not too late for me to interpret every new email or message I get as simply delightful.
What if I operate under the assumption that all communications I get are good? 🤔
What if I operate under the assumption that all people are good by default? 🤔
Well, let’s not get too crazy here.