Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
-- attributed to Ian Maclaren (1850-1907)
In this month of sharing gifts, I'd like to share four brief stories from Ki Moments subscribers like yourself. Over the years, stories like these from generous readers demonstrate how big a difference it makes when we pause, take a moment to find our presence, and offer respect, sometimes when it is least expected.
These writers' experiences highlight real-world applications of aikido principles, such as respect, moving with instead of against, and that the only real enemy is the one within. When we practice inner self defense, we can manage whatever comes our way from outside.
This writer, in the grip of the holiday rush, takes a moment to pause and offer respect to another hurried shopper, and finds her gesture delightfully returned.
I read your story on Respect and wanted to share with you a recent "respect" story of my own. I ran to the local department store on my lunch hour to pick up a few early Christmas gifts. The parking lot was full of other shoppers and as I approached the store, I did my best to avoid cars whipping by and not stopping for people crossing from the parking lot.
Still in a hurry, I headed for the doors where people were streaming in and out, took hold of the door handle, opened it, and began to enter. I was surprised by another woman who was exiting and coming my way in a hurry. I immediately stepped back and made a gesture with my head and bowed slightly as if to say "after you." She looked at me and gave me a big smile as if to say "thank you and happy holidays" and I immediately beamed back at her as if to say "you are welcome and happy holidays to you too."
Neither of us actually spoke a word, but there was a tangible sense of both kindness and respect in the air, and it gave me a sense of goodness & warmth!
By taking a moment to practice listening and acknowledgment -- is there a more tangible form of respect? -- another writer learns a valuable lesson about her impact on others.
A co-worker thought I was angry with her, and asked if we could step outside to talk. Without a lot of time to review aikido principles, all I could remember was "be curious" and "listen first". As she began telling me everything I'd done wrong, I listened and remembered to repeat back to her what I heard and understood.
It was a little rough, but overall successful in terms of us not being angry with each other and able to move ahead. I learned that my tone of voice can come across other than I intend it to, and we agreed that she'll drop me an email or text if she feels I'm doing that. Having instant feedback will help, because I certainly wasn't angry when she thought I was! And I honestly thanked her for coming to me directly.
In fact, she said something quite sobering. She said she just wants to be treated with respect. I had no idea she felt I wasn't doing that, and in truth, she is not my most-respected colleague. I learned I have to watch this about myself, and to find more ways to show respect.
A leader shares a work story...
Just had to drop a line to let you know I practiced at work today. As a team leader about to engage in a difficult conversation, I chose a listening--not telling--mode and checked my own "stuff" at the door. This pause for presence kept me grounded throughout the conversation and provided anchor points for when the conversation got more emotionally charged. Most important, it reminded me to treat the other person with respect.
And a sister and brother become closer...
Recently I called my brother who I was missing and wanted to connect with in a deep heart-felt manner. Somehow we began to talk politics, a long standing (mostly good-natured) feud between us. At times we can remain jovial but it usually dissolves into each of us wanting to prove the other wrong and elevate our own opinion as THE correct one. I found myself responding to his ideas but also aware of a growing pain in my stomach. Instead of pushing that feeling away, I took the deepest breath I could and thought about my intention in reaching out to him.
I let him say what he wanted and then admitted I was not present. It wasn't my intent to engage in a divisive conversation but to connect with him in a loving way as I was missing him and his company. I told him I feared letting him down by halting the conversation he wanted to have but I just wanted him to know I loved him.
To my brother's credit, he said he understood and asked what I wanted to talk about. It may seem insignificant, but knowing our histories this conversation was momentous. The breathing gave me the space to become clear and re-connect with my intent, which made it possible to bring what I wanted into existence.
These stories show the many opportunities we encouter every day to be kind, thoughtful, and generous with gifts that cost nothing and offer returns many times over to both giver and receiver.
My books and CDs offer similar stories. On sale now, you will find them all on my website in the "Conflict as Opportunity" bundle of gifts--at 50% of their usual cost.
Happy December, and happy Holidays!