….except for a fork in a restaurant in Chinatown, maybe?
I learned that the hard way, again, today. I have many skills but eating with chopsticks is not one of them. I believe that I offended the folks in the restaurant, like asking for A1 for a steak in an upscale chophouse. I believe there is a direct correlation between the authenticity of the Asian restaurant and the look of disdain on the faces of the waitstaff when confronted with someone who is chopstick-inept. “Could I please have a fork?” I asked. “She need fork” the waiter YELLED. “Wait, wait, whoa, whoa….I don’t think they heard you in Shanghai” I thought to myself. This is regrettably not the first time this has happened to me. You would think I would learn my lesson and simply bring a fork with me when visiting Chinatown. Not so, apparently.
But there is a time and place for everything and sometimes it is just time that it takes to get us to a place of understanding. A dear friend and colleague of mine sent me a text this morning. It said, “Sometimes in life a friend recommends a book ( you are the friend, Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” was the book”) but when you start the book you quickly realize that the book just isn’t for you and you can’t get into it. Then one day, many days later or in my case YEARS later, you pick up the book again and realize it relates to EVERYTHING.” Isn’t that the truth? Not just because it was my suggestion or because “Seven Habits” was so important to me, but isn’t life like that? Sometimes it just takes us a bit of time to see or hear something someone says.
My best analogy to this is the teacher/principal relationship and communication in the observation process. The observer collects some data that can be shared with the teacher and makes some suggestions in a reflection conference. “What are some ways you might group your students?” “Have you considered….?” Whether observers are really good at asking open-ended and invitational questions matters a good bit, but even if there are suggestions that teachers might need to hear, sometimes the hearing doesn’t occur because defenses are up or the teacher is frankly just not ready. But every once in a while, a few hours later, a few days later, even a few months later, the teacher might say, “Well, now that I think about it, that suggestion/advice might just work.” It’s as if the mind becomes open when someone is not steamrolling us into the thought. Battering rams don’t work as well as finesse, right?
Just for today, maybe we can consider how we word our messages to others. But also, we might want to consider that just because it looks like someone is not taking in our advice or suggestions doesn’t mean they never will (how about that for a quadruple negative?) Consider that the seed might just be planted and if we don’t trample all over it, it might just blossom into a full-grown flower. After all, this might not be the time for the person to hear us, but later might be a better time.
My friend, Michelle, concluded her text by saying, “Sometimes, we are just not ready for what everyone else thinks we should be ready for…a little self-reflection.” So very true. I am fully aware that I am not ready for chopsticks but I won’t rule out that someday I might be.