Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode, Jeff and Terry discuss how to effectively relate to people who are different than us. We want to encourage you that by practicing acceptance of another person’s perspective, you will be able to relate to those who are different than you.
Transcription of Podcast
Terry: You know, in the workbook, we talk about telling your story, we talk about your strengths, your weaknesses, your goals. How do you set a roadmap for your life and the future? Those sorts of things. What was missing was that piece about, how do I look at the world? We’re going to use the word worldview, but it really means, what’s my view of the world, and where does it come from? I think it really fits well into this concept because of the fact that nobody has the same worldview.
Jeff: Okay, today we’re going to talk about a challenging topic, and that’s how to have these conversations before the tough conversations, and why we really need to have the pre-conversation to the tough conversation. Which relates to, how do we relate to people that are different than us? So, relating to people that are different than us, that’s a key, key concept if we’re going to have those tough conversations.
Jeff: With us today, we’ve got Terry. She has had many tough conversations and many ways to relate to people that are different because she is a licensed, full-time counselor. So, you have lots of-
Terry: I do, yeah. Well, there are some, yes.
Jeff: Like, every day?
Terry: Every day, okay.
Jeff: Every hour.
Terry: Maybe every hour, not so much.
Jeff: I would assume that people coming into your office are not all the same as you, they’re not females that are … so on and so forth. They’re different-
Terry: Oh, yeah.
Terry: For sure.
Jeff: This is not just a conceptual topic, this is something that you have to deal with every day.
Terry: Yeah, yeah. We have some clientele that is similar to us, but, for the most part, people come in from all walks of life.
Terry: They have all kinds of different issues, all kinds of different beliefs. It’s not my place, as a counselor, to change their beliefs, it’s my place to make sure that they’re aware of what those are, and how those affect them. Then, maybe, go from that point on to asking, is that something that you really want to hang onto?
Terry: No, there’s a lot of differences. As councilors, any other counselor that’s out there listening is going to understand this, that you have to know how to relate to people who are different than you.
Jeff: Right. For the other 99% of us in the world that are not councilors, we need to get a lot better at this. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of polarizing topics out there, there’s a lot of tension in the world over certain topics. Before we really can sit down with somebody and address those topics, we need to have the conversation before that tough conversation.
Jeff: So, let’s just jump right into it, with the first, really, focused point. How do we do that? How do we relate to people who are different than us?
Terry: Well, I think that’s a great question. I think, first of all, I think the very first thing we need to do is that there are people much like us, and look at the similarities versus the differences.
Jeff: Well, I just heard that the other day, that’s really a key point. So oftentimes, there’s this polarizing, pointing out differences, and that’s done a lot today. How is this person different? Pointing out those differences in a negative way. But, really a key point, isn’t it, of saying, okay, there are going to be differences? We are just made different. Isn’t that a huge starting point to say, well, what are the similarities?
Terry: Oh yeah, definitely. That’s why it’s so hard to do. Often, our differences are typically the things we focus on. We see skin color, hair, makeup, clothing styles, and so on. I think if you think back to someplace like middle school, or those years when-
Jeff: Oh, those dreaded middle school-
Jeff: Oh, no. Not that!
Terry: Well, I think that’s when we really start to notice the differences, and we’re affected by them. We start to be aware of what the norms are in our society. By society, I mean that society in middle school. The kids, the other kids, the ones that, if you wear the wrong kind of shoes or clothes, you get picked on. If you don’t have your hair exactly the same way as everybody else, you’re ostracized, basically, for not fitting in. I think that’s where the underlying message we get is that you have to fit in, or you won’t be accepted. In that way, comparing ourselves to others makes us weary of those things that are different, and it becomes an ingrained habit for us.
Jeff: Well, just going back to that whole middle school for a second. I mean, some things in life … For example, I’m looking out a window now. If I see a little bunny rabbit crossing a street that gets hit by a car, at my age I go, oh that was sad. The little bunny rabbit got hit by a car. It doesn’t really ingrain too deeply in me, right?
Jeff: But, take that back to junior high and middle school, and those kinds of times in our lives, and those things, and the way we see things, and the way that people respond … I mean, the bullying, for example, that goes on. It just really does get ingrained in our psyche, doesn’t it?
It really does. It gets even worse than just ingrained, I think it turns into a series of different kinds of fears. It’s not just from middle school, it can come from influences such as family members, friends, neighbors when we’re growing up. Whatever the source is, we start to feel comfortable and safe with those things, with others who are like us, and we start to become fearful of those who are not. I think that’s where the problem really turns into a deeper problem.
Terry: If we don’t recognize this, and intentionally do something to counteract it, we’re really destined to live a life of just being around people who fit a certain mold.
Jeff: Right, right. Again, going back to those growing up times, it is the … I think back to when I was in school, and it was always fitting in. You know, we want to fit in. At some level, we are all sheep, aren’t we? We’re just-
Terry: For sure.
Jeff: We’re just wandering around, and we want to fit in. We want to not stand out, in either a positive or a negative way. The tough part about that is that we, at the core, are made different, and really need to not blend in. We need to lean into our differences, but when we do that, oftentimes, these negative things can happen. It’s on social media, too, now, right? If something’s a negative, it’s like, oh boy, let’s really pounce on this person.
Terry: I think social media is really a key part of this, too, because as we’re talking about trying to embrace the differences in each other, that’s exactly the opposite of what social media does for us. It feeds us. It learns the things that we’re interested in by the things we click on to read or the people that we connect with. Then, it just automatically tries to send us things that interest us, that’s their whole point. In doing that, we miss out on the opposites.
Terry: If you want to take something like a political point of view, all we end up seeing is that particular political point of view, and we miss out on some of the good things that we may hear from the other side.
Terry: If all we’re getting our news from is social media.
Jeff: Right, right. In social media, it is really about posting the picture of oneself, or with your family and friends, on top of the beautiful mountaintop in Colorado. Everybody is smiling, and it’s a bright, sunny day. So, on that shallow level, life is good. Then, when we do a deep dive, and we want to say, here’s how I really feel about the things that are going on in the world, and in my life. And, I want to come alongside others, and share what I feel with them, and have them share how they feel with me, that’s where those differences come out, and where we have lots of challenges.
Terry: For sure.
Jeff: Yeah. So, then the question becomes, what do we do? What are some ideas? Yeah, this really stinks, this is tough. How do we actually take some deep dives, and get alongside people and really have those deeper conversations? What do we do?
Terry: For sure. Well, I think the first thing we need to do if we’re looking at really wanting to change this is to start to become more accepting of other people’s, and other’s perspectives.
Terry: Going back to the Journey material that we have. We’ve got this wonderful workbook that was put together by some very smart people.
Jeff: Well, that’s a first. I’ve never known you to give yourself a little pat on the back, there. Terry did do a lot of the writing on this, although we had lots of people we took through the coaching end.
Terry: For sure, yes.
Jeff: What was it? Nine or 10 different revisions?
Terry: I think we were on revision 10 when we finally went ahead and had it published.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah. Anyway, it’s a lot of painstaking processes that went into the workbook. Anyway, that’s a topic for another day.
Terry: Well, when we were putting the workbook together, we started with a concept, we put it together, as you know. We went out and coached some people, and then we came back with their suggestions, and their perspectives. We made some tweaks to it, and we went back and coached some more people. We kept doing that, that’s why we had so many different versions of it.
Terry: At some point along the way, we realized there was something missing. That missing is this piece that we’re talking about today. How do we deal with … In the workbook, we talk about telling your story. We talk about your strengths, your weaknesses, your goals. How do you set a roadmap for your life and the future? Those sorts of things. What was missing was that piece about, how do I look at the world? What is my … We’re going to use the word worldview, but it really means, what’s my view of the world? Where does it come from? I think it really fits well, into this concept because of the fact that nobody has the same worldview.
Jeff: Well, worldview being a very specific example of one of those tough conversations, that needs to be had. It’s just like, okay, if we’re going to have a conversation with somebody else about their view of the world, again, how specifically can we do that?
Terry: Well, one good thing, and going back to the material … Session four of the Journey coaching workbook is really where we added that at a later date. We ended up moving some things around so we could put that in, and it’s all about worldview. The whole goal is to help you identify your worldview. Where does it come from? It’s a good way to gain insight into what you see as your perspective of the world. Until we look at this directly, we assume that everybody else has the same type of view of the world. If they just knew what we know, they’d feel the same way. Then, we get into arguments in that way.
Terry: I think the first thing is to understand, what’s my view of the world? Then, I can have a conversation with others about what their view of the world is. We can look at it from a curiosity standpoint, versus trying to talk each other out of their worldview.
Jeff: Well, the material was designed so that people could share their views of the world. So that the person coaching can, at some point, give a view of the perspective that the coach is going through. First of all, that person just has that freedom to say, hey, here’s what I see my view of the world is.
Jeff: In terms of that, what can we do kind of thing, doesn’t that apply, then, outside of the workbook, outside out Journey, as we have those conversations in life? It’s just asking those questions of people? Whatever it might be, whether it’s a worldview, or whatever, and just listening.
Terry: Yeah, absolutely. It’s really, really important that you ask that of yourself, first.
Jeff: Unpack that a little bit.
Terry: Well, that basically means, we’ve got to go back and look at our culture, and our worldview, and look at it from a lens that says, oh, I get it. I know why.
Terry: I was raised in the Upper Midwest. In our culture, if you want to call it that, it’s hard-working people, it’s mostly farmers that settled this area. There’s a lot of autonomy, there’s a lot of, you don’t ask for help until you absolutely need it, and you basically shoulder deep in mud. Then, you can call your neighbor.
Jeff: Pulling one’s self up by their bootstraps, right?
Terry: Yeah. That’s the kind of culture that my parents were raised in, and that’s the culture that they raised us in. One of the things I remember my dad saying, over and over again is … We went camping a lot. He would say, “You leave the place better than what you found it.” There were certain values and cultures that came from growing up. Not everybody had those, not everybody saw things from that perspective. They may have some of the same issues, but I think it really comes down to understanding, what is my culture?
Terry: By culture, I don’t just mean the American culture, I’m talking about micro-cultures. Every even home has its own little culture, its own outlooks, values, norms, goals, shared by the group of people.
Jeff: Let’s take a real simple dive down to what that looks like. For example, then, that person out of that environment most likely would say, if I have a place I’m supposed to be at nine o’clock, I’m going to be there at 8:55 AM, right?
Jeff: But, let’s compare that to a different culture. For instance, our daughter has been over in Ethiopia many times. She really loves the Ethiopian culture. I think there, it says, if you have a nine o’clock, if you’re there by 9:15 AM, or maybe 9:30 AM because it’s all about that relational piece. Maybe that person isn’t necessarily … Again, it’s the relating part, it’s the understanding part.
Jeff: We may say, at the shallow pass, we may say, well, that person just doesn’t care, because they’re 20 minutes late to this important thing.
Jeff: But, the reality is, they’ve put such a high value on relationships, that they’re probably, in a relationship, connecting with somebody that causes them to be a little bit late. We need, again, to just take a deep breath, go okay.
Jeff: They’re not the nine o’clock person, they’re the 9:15 AM person. That’s okay.
Terry: Well, if somebody comes from a culture where being late is actually on time, then, they’re not going to understand our being-
Terry: Come on, come on, it’s time.
Jeff: Those uptight people that have got to just be there.
Terry: Well, you can get into the conversation, and we’re not going to do it here, but you can get into a conversation about warm climate cultures, and cold climate cultures, and how they’re different, and how their approaches are different.
Terry: I think the main thing that I want to bring across today is just figuring out what it is that your beliefs, your worldview, your perspective is, helps you to, then, ask the right questions of the other person.
Jeff: Right, right. Again, it comes back to, just that understanding that let’s look at the similarities, rather than just the differences. Let’s take a deep breath, let’s ask some questions. Let’s listen. Then, at the core of all this, is really, love. All you need is love. Wasn’t that a Beatles song, or something? If you’re going to do this … It’s a lot easier not to do it, right? It’s a lot easier to just stay in our little bubbles and move forward. If we, again, take a deep breath, look beyond ourselves, love is important, love matters. Talk a little bit about that?
Terry: Well, what I’d like to do is I’d like to put that onto the next podcast if I can. I think we’ve covered quite a bit today. What I’d like to do is, let’s send people to another podcast. We’re going to have one talk where we discuss, how do we handle heavy topics? I think that might be a good thing to put in there, that unconditional love piece, and unconditional acceptance. I think that’s going to make it really important.
Jeff: This is like a little teaser to actually listen for the next podcast.
Terry: Ah, there you go.
Jeff: Oh! All right. Well, any other summary thoughts, then, before we end this one?
Terry: Not that I … Get involved in coaching! Come on, there’s a good workbook, here. If you give us a call, email, text message somehow-
Jeff: Yeah, just reach out.
Terry: We’re on social media. Just give us a call, connect with us, and we will try to help you find a way to do that.
Jeff: Right, exactly. The coaching is just, again, those one-on-one discussions that focus on relationships, which, again, focus on looking at the things we have in common, rather than the differences. Asking questions, listening, all important things that are just core to what we can, as just human beings, to connect with each other and grow.
Jeff: Anyway, Terry, thanks for coming in, for coming out of the councilor’s office, and talking to the rest of us. Thanks for being here.
Terry: It was good to be here, thank you.
Jeff: See you next time.
Thank you for listening. Tune in next time, and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at JourneyCoaching.org, and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at JourneyCoaching.org.