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Saturday, October 25, 2014

What view are you seeing today?

In finding the right candidate for a position, an employer considers the skills the individual requires for the performance of their duties.  These skills can be defined as both "hard" skills (the ability to type 90 words a minute) and "soft" skills (the ability to be courteous when answering the phones).  The "soft" skills are a little harder to find - often not really observed until you get the person in the specific situation where they will need to display these "soft" skills.  The skilled employer will use specifically crafted interview questions and examples to attempt to discover if the individual has those "soft" skills, but believe me, people can "tell" you they possess them, but until you see them in action, you really don't know if they do or not.  One such skill is the ability to listen before one formulates or gives an answer.  This is a "soft" skill, to be sure, but it is often coupled with some of the "hard" skills one uses in life.  As one goes about their performance of duties (whether at home or in the office), the "meshing" of these "skill sets" becomes quite obvious.  When one is lacking in the "soft" skills, relationships of any sort are made all the harder.

Pride leads to destruction; humility leads to honor. It’s stupid and embarrassing to give an answer before you listen.  (Proverbs 18:12-13 CEV)

Throughout the Book of Proverbs, we observe many "soft" skills referenced such as listening, using the right words, showing concern for another, etc.  In relation to the "hard" skills such as being a good carpenter, profitable farmer, or skilled fisherman, the "softer" skills are certainly pointed out in this collection of wisdom words.  You might observe how a man is to learn how to care for his wife, finding great contentment in the relationship he has with her.  Still another writing may include advice on how a king is manage the dealings of those within his rule.  Then we see the ways a wife is to attend to the physical, spiritual, emotional, and relational needs of the family.  From cover to cover, the Book of Proverbs points out the "softer" skills.  If a whole book is dedicated to this, maybe we'd do well to actually use it to guide us in "forming" those skills!

Today's skill is that of learning to accept the value of another.  When we are exposed to the teaching, "Pride leads to destruction; humility leads to honor", we are asked to consider how it is we "deal" with the other person by how it is we "view" ourselves in the relationship.  When we begin to consider the value of another, we take ourselves out of the "windshield" of our focus, so to speak.  We begin to see the entire "view" from the windshield, side windows, and back.  In essence, we are asked to not think so highly of our own opinion, learning, abilities, etc., that we neglect to give another the opportunity to be highlighted for theirs.  We each lend value to the relationship, but if one is constantly demanding the lion's share of the attention, the relationship becomes one-sided and very limited by that individual's "skill set".

Humility is not abasing oneself, but rather having a "fair estimate" of one's abilities - and the same "fair estimate" of the value of the abilities of another which you may or may not possess yourself.  For example, I might be able to draft an email explaining a new process with great detail.  Does it make me the best person to do it?  Not necessarily, because I may not be the one to actually "engage in" the process I am defining in the email.  I have the skill to write the email, but I lack the "direct skills" of having learned the process by making it a part of my workflow every day.  I need to interact with those who actually engage in the workflow each day to understand their perspective on the workflow - incorporating their understanding and skilled use of the workflow to help me describe the process detail.  I need the value they lend to make the discussion of the process even more valuable to those who will learn of the process from the email.

Giving an answer before you know what is being talked about is actually quite dangerous. In game shows such as Jeopardy, where one knowledgeable individual is racing against the clock to "ring in" before the other individual who wants to answer the question, some of the dangers of "ringing in" too early come in not fully hearing the entire "clue" given by the host of the show.  The game show environment is not where we each exist from day to day, though.  We don't "race to ring in" so we can be the first to answer the question. In fact, whenever we do this, we usually end up not anticipating the "rest of the clue" someone may actually be giving us!  We "guess" we know the answer, but do we really? Most of the time, it might come "close" to working out for us in relationship, but if continued long-term, this urge to "jump in" before the other person actually has a chance to finish what they are saying will actually put up road-blocks to continued conversation.

It stands to reason the "soft skills" in relationship matter - actually stepping back long enough to learn them is where we have the greatest difficulty.  Until we step back, we don't see the full picture.  We get the "windshield" view of life - what is in our immediate focus.  We don't get the full picture view - the "panorama" of sorts.  Truth is, we need the panorama in order to get the most from relationship.  So, instead of being so quick to answer the next time, maybe taking a step back to really listen could open up a new view for us in relationship!  Just sayin!