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A Story: Someone Walks into the Wellness Room

Imagine this situation. You go to one of the wellness rooms at work. The door isn’t locked, so you open it and start to go in, only to find someone in there, who sits up and splutters, “My name is on the schedule!” You point out nicely that they hadn’t locked the door, shut the door again, and head towards the other wellness room.

It’s not a big deal, but you’re wondering why the person in the wellness room didn’t lock the door. Usually people want privacy in a wellness room.

Have you ever been in a situation like that? Someone does something, they don’t really think it through, and it’s embarrassing. And somehow they blame you, because you made it obvious – not that you meant to – that they didn’t think it through.

I hear stories like this a lot in my mediation work. Not necessarily about a wellness room, exactly, but stories about how someone did something odd, inappropriate, or even morally outrageous.

In more extreme cases, my clients are so outraged at what the other person did, they don’t even want to work with the other person to resolve the conflict who in.

Another Story: Someone Doesn’t Lock the Door of the Wellness Room

Now imagine this situation.

You’re at work. Your eyes are really dry and they’re hurting. So you go in the kitchen and make yourself an ice pack, and go to one of the wellness rooms. No one’s scheduled for the room, so you write your name on the schedule, close the door behind you, and lie down with the ice pack on your eyes.

Then, suddenly, someone opens the door and walks in. Astonished, you point out that the room’s clearly been reserved. They say you hadn’t locked the door. They shut the door and leave. You put the ice pack back on your eyes and wonder why someone would just walk in a closed wellness room.

I hear stories like this in my mediation practice a lot, too.

Two Situations, Similar Points of View

Of course you’ve noticed that these two stories are about the same incident, just from the two different points of view.

Even though the points of view are different, both of those people are thinking a couple of similar things. One, they’re thinking that the other person was being inconsiderate or thoughtless. They’re thinking that if the other person complains, they themselves should say that there needs to be a policy about whether the door should be locked when the wellness room is occupied.

But there’s another thing each person is thinking, if they’re being honest with themselves. The person who was in the wellness room with the ice pack on their eyes, they’re thinking that, yes, it probably would’ve been a good idea if they’d locked the door. And maybe the person at the door did knock, but they’d fallen asleep, and didn’t hear it.

The person who walked into the wellness room, is realizing that if the door to the wellness room is shut, there’s probably somebody in there. No one should have to lock the door wellness room to prevent people from walking in.

Why People Get Outraged

What I see in my mediation work, over and over again, is that everybody should be willing to suspend their moral judgment on the other person’s actions. Nine times out of 10, or even 99 cases out of 100, what’s really happened is that people have accidentally done something that the other person finds really offensive. It’s unintentional, caused by one of a number of things: people grow up being taught different standards of behavior, certain people just irritate and annoy them, sometimes people just misunderstand each other.

Next time: How you can let go of your outrage — and why it’s a good idea

Image credit: © 2013, by Ape Lad. Used under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

No One Ever Deliberately Misunderstands You

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