empathy

I Was Wrong

There’s so much freedom in saying, “I was wrong.” PERIOD. Not “I was wrong, but you were more wrong” or “I was wrong but there were extenuating circumstances.” Not even “I was wrong, but I was having my period.” Just a simple, “I was wrong.”

So shoot me. I’m human. And a mess. And inconsistent. And often wrong. Even when I’m sure I’m right.

I loved a financial article this week in The Washington Post. Barry Ritholtz,

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It’s hard to tell what’s going on inside anybody.

Yesterday, post-election, I didn’t see a single visual cue as to who was happy or who was sad about the outcome. And I was out and about, all around town here in D.C. where I live. And we are — need I tell you? — a political city.

You’ll notice that I didn’t say I didn’t READ a thing. Facebook was a very handy source of finding out how my friends feel about the candidates and the outcome.

This raises the point that we have no idea what’s going on inside other people.

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Snap decisions and public transportation

Quick, you’ve just jumped on the subway and you have to grab a seat before the forward motion lurches you into the nearest pole. Without even consciously thinking about it, you’ll make calculations about each of your potential seat mates, and you’ll plop down in what feels like the safest spot.

“Safe” in terms of social cues, avoiding potentially awkward or threatening interactions… “safe” in terms of however you’ve been conditioned to think about various people based on the external visual clues as to their identity.

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The Sound of One Hand Clapping

My brain got a little wacky over the weekend. I’ve had far too much time alone lately, much of it sitting at a computer. And when that happens, I get crazy. I feel despair. I decide I have no friends. I am certain my life is not worth living. I’m positive that there is nothing I’m involved in that will come to fruition or prove valuable. I globalize (“Because I’m discouraged today, I’ll always feel this way.”) In short, I lose it.

All it takes to return me to some degree of normalcy is human contact —

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Love’s the Only House

I have a sneaking suspicion that country is not the music of choice for most of our blog readers. But you are missing something. I cut my teeth on Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard, and I still like me some Randy Travis.

“Love’s the only house big enough for all the pain in the world” is a phrase that was on repeat in my brain as I read the emails that dripped into my inbox while I went out for a Groupon lunch today.

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SPACIOUS Conversation Starters

Generally when we enter a room or social setting, we either telegraph an attitude of “Here I am” or “There you are!” It’s worth thinking about which we hope to project, and how we’d do it. Here are some ways to engage others:

1. Rather than asking people what they “do” (implying work), maybe you can ask them what sorts of projects they are working on or what excites them these days (acknowledging that it may or may not be their work).

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Love, Loss and What An Ex Kept

I’m a cynic about calling in to radio shows to express myself on the air. I don’t know why my opinion matters, and even if it did, I can’t imagine I’d ever get through the digital equivalent of a lit-up switchboard. Why bother, really?

So when I found myself pulling my car over to the side of the road recently to call D.C.’s MIX 107.3, I was surprised. I didn’t know the depth of loss I felt.

The topic was “things you gave your ex that they kept when you broke up.”

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