Want Better Relationships? Dump All Your Preconceived Notions.

“A group of four laughing men sits on an edge overlooking a green valley” by  Matheus Ferrero  on  Unsplash

“A group of four laughing men sits on an edge overlooking a green valley” by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

Judging others is wrong… right?

Then why do we obsess about what others do and how they think? Why do we decide what others feel or think just by observing their actions? Why do we think that everyone sees the world like we do? Can we learn from this and use what we learn to better ourselves?

I was taught all my life to not judge others, but a big contradiction started to emerge as I was also being taught who was a good person versus who was a bad person. I have the perspective now as an adult to better understand my upbringing, and I do not believe that the teaching of good person versus bad person is dishonest in anyway. However, I’m starting to unpack what was really happening and I have a few thoughts.

I believe whole-heartly that what started, however appropriately, as a good versus bad value system, eventually molded into more of a we don’t hang around these type of people because they do bad things type of teaching. So in the process, for me, this created a judgmental mindset, whether good or bad, based on the characteristics and actions of those around me.

I knew that it wasn’t right to judge people, or to place them in my mind a certain way just because of their words or actions. It’s an easy thing to do, because we are all human, and we measure each other constantly whether we consciously choose to or not. I was rightfully being taught that I should dismiss the error of humans, and graciously learn to accept and love. But at the same time I was being coddled, under-exposed, shunned, and somewhat protected from reality all in the name of “stay away from the wrong type of crowd”.

This is no doubt a touchy subject. My parents were doing their best to keep me safe in the world, and I’m sure they were acting through what they were taught from their own upbringings. The fact that I’m pointing out something that I experienced and learned from does in no way undervalue their efforts to instill the values that live in me today, that guide my actions daily.

I have just decided to take a different approach to the concept outlined above. I believe, as I mature and become more self-aware, that developing a preconceived notion (basically a judgement) of someone, based on the crowd they hang with, or based on the words that they use, or based on the actions that they take, destroys a path to building a solid relationship. Or if the relationship is already established, creating a notion around the choices that someone makes regarding how they think or act is a sure-fire way of crushing the bond that you hold with that person.

What is a Preconceived Notion?

From dictionary.com:

Preconceived: to form a conception or opinion of beforehand, as before seeing evidence or as a result of previously held prejudice.

Notion: a general understanding; vague or imperfect conception or idea of something.

From awonderingmind.com:

Every day we go into life with expectations about how things will occur. These beliefs have an astounding impact on our perceptions of and reactions to the world around us, often times without us even being aware.

The “often times without us even being aware” is what fascinates me.

Are we paying attention?!

Preconceived notions cost us opportunity that sometimes we would never know existed. Once we allow ourselves to search for truth, and open our minds to possibility that exists outside our own reality, it’s only then that we can obtain an understanding that is proper. That type of existence is patient, willing, loving, and wholly self-aware.

Measure your reactions within the following situations:

The Phone Call

When someone calls and you see the number, do you start to formulate an opinion about the phone call before ever answering it?

The Social Media Post

Do you witness someone liking or sharing a post online that covers a controversial topic, and you immediately jump to conclusions that the person is clueless about the topic?

The Slow Responder

Do you fret about what people are thinking when you ask a question over text, email, or voicemail, and the receiver is slow to respond? Or how about when you call, but they don’t pick up?

The Know It All

Are you about to attend a meeting or enter a conversation with someone who acts like they know it all, and you decide before hand that it’s all going to be a waste of time?

What Happened?

How many times have situations like this occurred, yet after you followed-through on the call, the text, joined the online discussion, or participated in the meeting, did you come out on the other side with a different perspective?

How many times did you think to yourself, “oh, that wasn’t that bad..”?

I bet when you really dig deep you start to realize that your preconceived notions were all wrong. Your thoughts were completely mis-directed, and you almost avoided certain situations that actually led to more learning and/or life changing break-throughs.

This will not always be the case. You’ll have to fight through the bad to get to the good. You will have the gut-wrenching phone calls, and the slow responders, and the online or in-person “know it alls”. But how you react to those situations can make a solid impression on those around you, and if you have the patience to deal with those struggles in life, or better yet, embrace them as a learning tool, then you’ll always be looked at as a leader. You’ll be sought out for guidance and direction. You’ll have a plan of action for the tougher situations in life that would normally tear everyone else down around you.

Most of all, you’ll have no reason to “stay away from the bad crowd”.

The bad crowd, people that try to tempt you, people that want to scam you, people that want to pull you into their negativity sphere, can’t compete with the mindset of honesty through leadership. When you’ve decided to behave differently, react differently, and compose yourself in a way that cuts a truly unique way forward, it’s insatiably hard for negative people in life to find a foot hold. You’re moving faster and becoming more knowledgeable than you can imagine, and in the process you are building the most healthy thriving relationships of your life.

Benefits?

  • The spouse benefits from better conversation and communication.
  • The kids are smarter, more savvy, less prone to temptation, and more open to sharing with the parents.
  • Your friends enjoy a higher level of communication and feel more comfortable to talk to you about anything on any level.
  • Your co-workers come to you for advice before they follow-up with management.
  • Your mentorship grows among your peers.
  • Your leadership and influence has a stronger impact because you accept things for the way that they are and you use everything in life as a lesson to learn and conquer.

Want better relationships… and a more fulfilled life?

Drop all preconceived notions of what will happen.. and accept that what you experience is something that you needed to understand to get to the next level. I firmly believe that viewing the world through this lens will allow me to live a better life during this short time that I’m here.