Play
Slider

“They suck.”

Think of a group of people you don’t like.

Now realize there are people in the world who don’t like a group of people that you fall within.

Whether it’s because of your profession, the color of your skin, your cultural background or something else entirely, you are disliked by people who don’t even know you simply because you fall within a stereotype.

Think it’s fair? Probably not. They don’t know you or what motivates you, how could it be fair?

If you’ve ever been stereotyped and didn’t like it, then refuse to stereotype others no matter how accurate you think the stereotype is.

It should go without saying, but no two people are exactly alike.

Every person on the planet draws upon a unique history of life experiences that shape who they are, how they see the world, and how they act.

Refuse to rely on a generalization or oversimplification from which to judge a group of people.

Resist disrespecting and speaking badly about others just because family, friends, the media, or society considers it acceptable to paint an entire race, culture, or group of people in a negative light.

Whatever your lifestyle preferences may be, respect people enough to give others a chance to show who they are by how they act.

Some of the best friendships in the world are between people who don’t necessarily agree on everything. It is our differences from one another that help us grow and push us to see the world from a perspective other than the one we’ve grown most comfortable with.

ster·e·o·type
noun
1. a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

[This is not to say throw caution to the wind when you are in unfamiliar territory. Be cautious, be aware of your environment, and understand & respect cultural differences. This is simply to say that if you don’t like being stereotyped, don’t stereotype others.]

Related:

they-suck-zero-dean

Be an encourager

be-an-encourager-zero-dean

It is far more effective to be a person who encourages others than it is to spend one’s time finding faults, criticizing, or judging people.

Not only will you feel better about yourself as a result of being a force for good, you’ll be making a positive difference in people’s lives.

Refuse to put people down. Refuse to judge those who aren’t exactly like you. Refuse to do to others what you wouldn’t like done to you.

Remember that everyone lives their lives in a way that reflects what they’ve learned from life experience.

Not everyone thinks the same. Not everyone knows what you know. Not everyone has the same level of awareness.

Help people live their lives in a positive way by encouraging more of what you’d like to see in the world.

Lift people up. Raise people’s spirits. Make friends, not enemies.

Help educate people by being a good example.

Be kind. Be encouraging. Be honest. Be tolerant.

Inspire others to live with integrity.

Lead by example.

Related:

Taking things for granted

From your relationships with people to the environment to modern day conveniences, the things that are most often taken for granted in the world require effort and energy to simply maintain them, let alone improve them.

Take the time to think about what it would be like if the things you appreciate most in the world became scarce or went missing.

Take the time to think about what you might be taking for granted.

And then take the time to express your gratitude for these things.

Not only will it give you a greater appreciation for the things you take for granted, it’ll remind you that there are people and places in the world where those things no longer exist or never did.

And as a result, not only increase your appreciation for what you have, increase your desire to maintain or improve upon it.

There’s a saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”

Be sure you take inventory.

Related:

taking-things-for-granted-zero-dean-pg

Relationships 101

Never stop doing the kinds of things that made you and your partner fall in love with each other in the first place.

Many people make the mistake of no longer furthering their efforts once they achieve what they want. Only to then wonder why they lost what they had.

___

Yes, learn from your mistakes, but don’t penalize your current partner for past partners offenses.

Every person you meet has different habits and a different history. The past is not the present.

Give people you meet a chance to demonstrate the type of person they are through their actions not someone else’s.

Related:

Matters of miscommunication

Many miscommunications are perpetuated by people who fail to check that they are either being understood correctly or correctly understanding someone.

One effective means to overcome misunderstandings is to repeat back to the person what you think they said.

“If I’m understanding you correctly, what you’re saying is…”

In that way, you can make sure you’re on the same page and not wasting unnecessary time & energy — or potentially making things worse.

Many misunderstandings also happen because, rather than listen closely to what others are saying, people often use the time that others spend speaking to plan what they’re going to say next. They listen to reply, rather than listen to understand.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen R. Covey

This is often evidenced by how often people interrupt each other.

Unless it is for the purpose of clarification, interrupting someone to steer a conversation in a different direction is not only an indication that you aren’t listening closely, it’s a sign that you think what you have to say is more important than what the speaker is saying.

While interrupting someone can be acceptable in fun and playful conversations between friends, it can be disrespectful and potentially hazardous in any exchange meant to be taken seriously.

While it’s important to be able to express yourself clearly, it’s equally, if not more important to be able to listen effectively.

There is truth in this ancient wisdom from Epictetus, the Greek Sage and Stoic philosopher:

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

We learn much more through listening carefully than we do by thinking about what we’re going to say when the person speaking stops talking.

There is great power in being a person who can listen effectively.

There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.” — G.K. Chesterton

Related:

matters-of-miscommunication-zero-dean-pg

Emotional reasoning

“Emotional reasoning is a cognitive process that occurs when a person believes that what he or she is feeling is true regardless of a presented evidence.” — Wikipedia

Believe it or not, direct communication, and not making guesses or assumptions — no matter how right you think you are — is still the most reliable way to get accurate information on why someone has chosen to act (or not act) a certain way.

Leaps of logic with regard to others’ motivation are often prone to being inaccurate when one is working with only personal experience or a limited amount of information.

If you want to know the when, what, or why behind something someone did or is doing, many times all you have to do is ask.

Never underestimate the power of clear, open, honest, and direct communication as a means to establish or perpetuate long-lasting and rewarding relationships.

As it is often a lack of these things that ultimately cause relationships to fail.

Don’t fill in the blanks for things you don’t know the true answers to with negative things that you convince yourself are the truth.

never-underestimate-the-power-of-clear-open-honest-and-direct-communication-zero-dean

Related:

Liar liar

A lie is still a lie even when you use it to comfort someone. Tell the truth, even if it hurts.

This has nothing to do with deliberately hurting someone or offering unsolicited feedback. This is about being honest & telling the truth in the course of a conversation and relationship.

If you have a problem with “Tell the truth, even if it hurts”, then know that what you’re essentially saying is that it’s okay for people to lie to you, as long as the lie appeals to your ego and sense of worth.

If you want to build a relationship based on false beliefs and miscommunication, then lying to a person because it makes them feel better — or makes you feel better about yourself — is an excellent way to accomplish this.

Not only is this not an open or honest way to communicate, it is one of the reasons why so many friendships and marriages fail. Because rather than truly address and resolve issues, friends or couples choose to cover them up with “little white lies.”

Liar:

  • 1. a person who tells lies.

Note how it doesn’t say anything about the size of the lie or whether it makes someone feel better.

“But they can’t handle the truth!”

Right. So catering to someone’s weakness and lying becomes acceptable? Is this how you would want someone to treat you in the same situation? You would prefer that they fill your head with a lie rather than tell you the truth? And you think that’s what real friends do?

Real friendships are built on honesty and trust.

Real friends don’t have to agree on everything or like all the same things to get along. Real friends will give each other shit and it doesn’t matter. Why? Because of trust.

Real friends are not afraid of talking to each other when something is wrong. Real friends know that they can always count on each other when it matters (it always matters).

Real friendship doesn’t involve appealing to the other person’s weaknesses or ego by lying.

Lying to people to comfort them is not the answer. We need people to be stronger rather than cater to their weaknesses. Remember, no one can make you feel bad without your consent.

Yes, there is a time and a place for all conversations. And no, not saying anything is not the same thing as blatantly lying, but not saying something or leaving out details (the whole truth) can be a form of lying.

Sometimes the answer to improving relationships isn’t to talk more or pretend to be more interested. Sometimes it’s simply to be truly honest and open.

Related:

Real friendships are built on honesty and trust.

liar-liar-zero-dean-pg

*Supplemental:

A) “What do you think about my [horrid] outfit?”
It’s not really my cup of tea, but if you like it, that’s all that really matters…

B) “Do you think this shirt makes me look fat?”
I think there are other outfits that might look better on you…

C) “Don’t you just love this new thing I got?”
I can’t say I love it like you do, but I’m glad it makes you happy.

D) “Do you love me?”
*yawn* Oh gosh, look at the time… hey, is that a giant mutant radioactive squirrel in the yard!? O_O

See. You don’t have to lie.

I’m not saying these are the best responses, but if you are truly friends with someone, there is nothing in these statements that should be considered offensive while getting the point across without lying.

But what’s even better is if you have a relationship where you can say:

A) Gawd, that outfit is ghastly.
B) You look like an elephant, but I still love you.
C) I have no idea why you bought that, but hey, we all have our things.
D) Naw, I don’t love you, I’m just here cause you have cable.

Because if you can get away with that, you probably have yourself a real friend.

Is there anything I can do to help?

"Is there anything I can do to help?" is a magical question.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” is a magical question.

Sometimes people have a difficult time asking for help (they are either not comfortable with it or simply don’t know how to ask without appearing selfish or needy). And sometimes people are so independent they don’t even think to ask for it.

And whether or not someone takes you up on your offer, simply asking if you can help is a supportive gesture to show that the person you are offering to help matters to you.

Helping others is not only a great way to build friendships and improve relationships, it can also improve a person’s day, project, or experience beyond measure.

Never feel bad for offering to help someone and they decline your offer (for any reason). Some people are also not very good at recognizing the intention or the thoughts behind a supportive gesture.

Helping people is awesome.

Followup:

From a comment: Better yet, don’t even ask. Just do.

Zero:

Sometimes people don’t look like they could use the help — so it’s not obvious how to help. But by asking, it helps answer the question.

I am one of those people who has a difficult time asking for help. I’m very independent. I feel that if I can do it myself, even if it takes me longer, then I should probably just do it myself. And I also don’t like to appear needy. (Hey, we all have our “things”.)

So when someone asks me if there is anything they can do to help, it can help me get over that “hump”. It also opens up a dialogue that can help strengthen a friendship or relationship.

While there is never anything wrong with trying to help people, there are times when people would rather do “it” themselves than have someone else do “it” for them.

And there are times when people will actually take offense at you doing something for them that they can/want to do themselves. While I don’t think taking offense at helpful gestures is the right thing to do, this is also why I think asking can be helpful (in those cases).

There are also times when we think the best way to help is by offering “advice”, but advice isn’t always the thing that’s truly wanted or most helpful. Especially advice that is given in a “this is what I would do” way, without regard to the context of a person’s journey. Because even our best advice that might help most people, doesn’t necessarily work with all people (the square pegs in the round holes, for example).

And there are times when we think we’re being “helpful”, when we’re really not. Such as when someone tells us they’re depressed, so we say, “Cheer up!” or “It’s always darkest before dawn!” (these things sound nice, but are not particularly helpful to a depressed person).

I think Allie Brosh in her Depression Part 2 post covers that exceptionally well.

“My fish are dead.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll help you find them. Are there any clues where they went?”
“I know where they are. The problem is, they aren’t alive any more.”
“Let’s keep looking! I’m sure they’ll turn up somewhere.”

When people don’t understand the real issue, they tend to offer advice that doesn’t fit the context of the situation. So again, helping people without asking can sometimes lead one down different path than the recipient of the “help” wants to go.

That said, I totally understand the sentiment. I do open and hold doors for people. Or try to find ways to help people when I can (especially when they are obvious). For example, every creative type could nearly always use a hand getting more exposure. People who write stuff like love to be acknowledged. That sort of thing.

See also: Is there anything I can do to help (if so, contact me)

Related:

Being “awesome” doesn’t mean simply existing.

It appears that “being awesome” is all the rage these days. Social networks are full of “just be awesome” related posts.

  • Don’t forget to be awesome!
  • Wake up. Be awesome. Go to sleep.
  • Keep calm and be awesome!

This is great — except that no one seems to really draw attention to what “being awesome” actually means. As if the simple act of existing is “being awesome”.

It isn’t.

The people who leave fast food trash in the parking lot next to their car are not being awesome. People who put others in danger by texting and driving? Not being awesome.

Rudeness? Arrogance? Selfishness? Judging people? Not awesome.

The majority of Youtube comments? Not awesome.

Being “awesome” doesn’t mean simply existing.

Being awesome involves acting in a way that contributes something of value to the people, places, and things that you connect with throughout your day.

Unless your mission is to be so annoying that people will feel relieved when you are not around, if your presence doesn’t add value, your absence won’t make a difference. And if you’re not making some kind of positive difference, that’s not “being awesome”. That’s not putting in any amount of effort. That’s simply existing.

So if you truly want to be awesome, always strive to contribute in such a way that you’re adding something of value wherever you may be and to whoever you come in contact with by doing more of what you’d like to see in the world.

This can be as simple as going out of your way to be kind to people.

It is in this way of adding value wherever you go that you will not only make a positive difference in the world at large, but also in your relationships, your work affairs, and any systems in which you play a role.

And that is awesome.

As Henry David Thoreau said, “Be not simply good; be good for something.”

Related:

Being awesome doesn't mean simply existing
if-your-presence-doesnt-add-value-your-absence-wont-make-a-difference-zero-dean-2

If I’m weird around you it’s because…

Seen in a meme:

If I’m weird around you, it’s because I’m comfortable.

No.

If I’m weird around you, it’s because I’m comfortable I don’t change who I am so that people will like me. Because the kind of people I like will like me for being real.

if-im-weird-around-you-its-because-zero-dean

Related:

*I only send emails when I have news worth sharing. Typically less than 3 times per month. Easily unsubscribe at any time.

Why I want your email address.