Stop, Look and Listen

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When I was a child I was taught to Stop, Look and Listen at a busy road. Perhaps that’s good advice for dealing with others as well. Stop and think, Look at a person, Listen to them before forming an opinion.

I can be quick to judge others. Quick to think I know best. Quick to form an opinion. But am I alone in that? As I have got older I have learnt to slow that process down and ask questions first. Not directly of them, necessarily. But questions about the person. Get to know more about them.

How well do you understand other people? When you look at your neighbour, work colleague, friend, enemy, family member, celebrity or politician what’s your first thought about them? Envy, judgement, criticism, applause, joy, happiness, understanding, sympathy, disgust, anger, or something else? What do you feel about them? What do you know about their life and what they have been through? There’s a well known saying that you will only really know someone if you walk a mile in their shoes. Well, as a wheelchair user, how about if you wheel a mile in my chair. Getting inside the life of someone else isn’t easy and really we would have to live their life to truly understand them.

If it’s people you know, family and friends then you have an advantage. You can find out about the things that make them tick. You can discover why they are as they are. You can learn not to judge too quickly. If work colleagues then you have time with them to discover truth.

What about celebrities and politicians? One thing is certain you can’t trust what you read in the media. You will get two completely opposing views of the same people. It will seem as if that same person is actually two people. Logic will tell you that both cannot be true. So either one or both are lying, exaggerating or just plain wrong. Is the truth somewhere between?

Here is a radical thought: celebrities and politicians are just ordinary human beings with all the faults and failings that you and I have.

The truth then is probably that people are both extremes and neither.

The only way to know anyone fully is to walk in their shoes, wheel in their chair try to understand them. Suffer their suffering. Go through what they went through. But we can get a glimpse of people if we stop and look. If we ask questions and listen rather than judge.

Judge not and you will not be judged. Would you want to be judged by your own criteria? I know I wouldn’t.

Stop, Look and Listen and maybe you and I will understand others better.

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