Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Seek First to Understand

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of working at Franklin Covey for several months right after finishing high school. I truly loved the job. It was a typical post-high school job, I took inbound sales calls. The beautiful thing though was that my shift was from 5AM-9AM every day. Being done with work by 9AM? That was something to rejoice about. Going to bed at 8PM though...was social suicide, but that's beyond the point.

One of the perks of being an employee of Franklin Covey was getting the chance to attend lots of seminars and things that other people had to pay hundreds of dollars to attend. For all of the seminars and motivational reading material I received there's only one thing that really stuck with me, "seek first to understand and then to be understood." I think that's one of the seven values of highly effective people, or something like that.

Even through my numbskull teenage head that phrase seemed profound. I made a concerted effort to apply it in to my daily life, and it's been my go-to wedding shower advice for nearly a decade.

It served me well when we were first married and Blaine was really really late getting home from work and I was worried (and we shared a cell phone - the horror! - so I had no way of contacting him). I was borderline call-the-police worried when he finally walked in the door. It's funny how as soon as you know the person you were worried about is safe that worry can turn in to anger real quick. Turns out he had stopped to help someone (or given someone a ride home and then stopped to help someone, something very selfless and kind), and I was sorry that I hadn't sought first to understand before I verbally assaulted him once he finally came in the door.

Anyway, I think it is a wonderful motto, seek first to understand and then to be understood.

Blaine just got home last night from a four day trip to Boston. A lot of yelling rang through the halls of our home while he was gone. Turns out single parenthood is emotionally taxing. And for some reason, completely beyond my scope of comprehension, I decided that while Blaine was gone would be a good time to dejunk Gwen and Bentley's room. After a very tiring day of sorting, cleaning, and dejunking I got to the last drawer of Gwen's dresser. And it that drawer, I found this...

*shudder*. What the WHAT? My mind raced thinking of how I had one time found an entire measuring cup full of sugar in her closet, all the candy wrappers I had found behind her bed, all the distrust she has earned recently. I assumed it was probably a hunk of cheese she had squirreled away to eat after bedtime and then forgotten about.

I took a breather, before berating her about sneaking food I decided to just try to seek first to understand. I asked her what it was.

Her response? "Your Mothers Day present!"

Boy did I feel loved. But then she continued, "remember a few weeks ago when we had pineapple with *salt on it and you wanted another piece but it was gone? I saved a piece for you to give to you for mothers day!".

Ahhhhh. See! Good thing I hadn't yelled at her, right? It was a sweet gift. I mean certainly what I want most of all for Mothers Day is for my kids to stop fighting for even just ten minutes, but a very close second is a moldy piece of pineapple that had been squirreled away with utmost care, remember it truly is all about the little things.

Happy Mothers Day, may you receive gifts as thoughtful (though hopefully not as smelly) as mine!

*Am I the only person who salts my pineapple, my husband and children think I am a such a freak show, but it is so much better that way!


Karina said...

Oh, sweet sweet Gwen. And patient, wise, Kristi. What great advice.

Megan Kroff said...

Okay. Seriously...Justin and I are laughing so hard at your last post but wow...we're now really listening to our kids :)

Love these blogs Miss Kristi!!!

Sheyenne said...

Oh my. That is one of the sweetest things ever. And disgusting. But more sweet than disgusting.

Linds said...

your post made me laugh so hard I have tears in my eyes. Can I just tell you... I LOVE your blog. It brightens my day every time I read it and I am always looking forward to your posts.

Taggart Photography said...

That is one of the sweetest blog posts I have ever read! Thanks for the reminder - as I'm sure it will help me as I stop and think of your great words of wisdom! :)

Melissa Ash said...

You are not the only one who salts her pineapple. Jessica from Winder Dairy would salt most of her fruit, because it brings out the sweetness. I did a few times after that, but it never stuck for me! You are not alone in the salting of fruit!

Wendy said...

I love that post. I love Gwen's thoughtfulness!