A colleague mentioned the difficulty he had with a former student of mine. I listened to the challenges he had dealing with the student’s personality and I thought to myself, that’s because you weren’t having compassion.
Not that I have always had overflowing compassion for everyone I have worked with, but I am reminded of something a client told me years ago when I first started.
He was a retired police officer and talked about his life and career which seemed so foreign to my younger self. He was black and I am not. He grew up in poverty. I did not.
And yet it was my job to help him find out what he wanted to do next in his life.
He told me when he first started as a cop his boss told him he would meet all kinds of citizens and have to interview them. In order to make a successful interview, the boss said find at least one thing you like about the citizen. Whether it was as shallow as their haircut you admired, it was a way of being more open (and I would say compassionate) to the interview process.
I took that story and have materialized it as one of my guiding principles. I think that is why I am able to cultivate a more harmonious interaction with even the most ‘difficult’ of personalities.
I am happy to have learned that so long ago so that I can live it.
Eileen Day 2014