How much of what we hear is only the climax? How much of what we judge is only a fraction of the story?
I'll have to tell on myself here. There's this person I've had a professional relationship with for a few years, and from the beginning, she rubbed me wrong. It's very possible, and likely, that feeling is mutual. That's fine. We can't be buddies with everyone just because life throws them in our path. It does make things professionally awkward at times, however. This little issue has been a little thorn in my side, only a little thorn since our paths only occasionally cross, but a thorn.
I immediately found this person rather arrogant, sometimes flat out rude, abrasive, too in-your-face (which matters a lot to an introvert like myself), and highly competitive (I'm only highly competitive with myself. I want us all to achieve as much as we can, fairly). Needless to say, I've avoided interactions as well as possible.
And then something odd happened. I found out what was tripping her easily-tripped trigger. Since I believe in privacy, although said person is very unlikely to ever read this post, I won't go into the root causes for those things I found disturbing. Let's just say she's had some things to overcome, starting early in life, and much of her resulting actions are defensive. I feel for her. I feel for that little child who grew up needing to be defensive. Most of us do to different extents, but that's also something to remember. We all have things in our backgrounds that make us think and act and believe as we do. We would do ourselves better justice to remember that, to not be so self-focused due to our own issues that we don't stop to see we're all just little children who had to grow up the best we could despite the odds, be they light or heavy or somewhere in between.
How many years did I spend avoiding this person when she probably could have used a better listening ear and more understanding heart? If she's still defensive, she still has things she's trying to work out. Avoidance doesn't help that. Not bothering to talk about more than the job and the weather doesn't help that.
We're so flooded with information that flies at us from all sides and we're so busy arguing our own points that maybe we've forgotten how to truly connect to another. Where they are now is only a tiny bit of their story. Maybe we could stop and ask why. What's happened that makes you feel that way? What end goal are you trying to work toward? What's preventing you from reaching that end goal? Do you need a hand?
Yes, I'm as guilty as anyone for seeing an opinion I find ridiculous and unfounded and rolling my eyes instead of pausing to ask why. Of course we can't do it with everyone. No one can keep up with the inside story of all of the people we run across in these days of 500 "friends" and 2,000 "work acquaintances. But if someone's opinion matters to you, maybe it should matter to you to find out why they feel as they do.
If it doesn't, there's always the scroll on past option.
Maybe we can move away from the center of the bridge, start back at the beginning, and then move forward to the other side together rather than to keep standing in the middle going nowhere like Dr. Seuss's Zax.
If we do this more often, maybe, just maybe (as Dr. Seuss would say), maybe we could keep that snap from happening just a little more often than we do today.