Reality is an interesting concept. Sometimes I think I’m the master at being mis-understood. Why? Because I work a lot with people who aren’t like myself. They interpret the world differently than I do.
Reality has three components:
– Events, actions, or statements
– Context (other things going on more or less at the same time)
The most important of these is the last: Interpretation. This is true because the interpreter takes the input and the context and “translates” these into her reality.
Notice, also, what’s missing: Intention. The intended reality is important to the person who wishes to be understood, but plays no direct role in whether or not he is understood.
– – – – –
A few months back, my daughter moved away to college. So I moved out of the big, big house into a small apartment. In the big, big house I had a walk-in pantry that was larger than the entire kitchen in my apartment.
The first time my daughter came to visit, she looked at some Cup-a-Soups on top of the refrigerator and said “Oh my God, are you living on ramen noodles?” I said NO, I just didn’t have any other place to put them.
The next time she came to visit I had just been shopping. There were some granola bars on the kitchen counter. And she said, “I hope you’re not living on granola bars.” No. Of course not. But the cupboards are full and I don’t have any place to put them.
You see, my reality didn’t really figure into her perception of my reality.
I always think it’s interesting to contemplate how we all interact with one another even though we have completely different understandings about how the world works. Sometimes it’s a miracle that we “communicate” at all.
As I mentioned, I always lose the battle of relying on what I *intended* someone to see or hear. I didn’t mean to insult you, but I did. I didn’t mean to suggest something, but I did.
The only salvation I have on this front is that, over time, people learn that I’m well-intentioned. So when something could be interpreted more than one way (in their opinion), they begin to give me the benefit of the doubt. Whew!
Just remember that we’re all interpreting our world. And we don’t always realize it.
So try to be generous and kind as you translate your environment into meaningful information.
Most people are well-intentioned most of the time. Assume so and the world will be a better place.