The Story Behind The Story

ImageI don’t know why I am constantly surprised to learn there is always a story behind someones reaction to a situation, you would think after all these years I would have figured this out. I am a classic for making assumptions about people, in fact it may be my biggest vice – other than burping a lot!

I have been around long enough to know that most people aren’t deliberately troublesome, yet I still end up filtering people’s actions through my own paradigm as though my perspective is the most trusted source available – save us all! Without fail, when I take the time to look deeper, I end up being called to a more compassionate response to someones unwanted assertion instead of reacting like a nuff nuff.

Emails are a setup for misunderstanding each other and a bear trap for the innocent. Before emails were invented we all talked to each other. We may have become more efficient with the excess traffic flow of words but we have traded the ‘story behind the story’ for a selection of yellow face picture options at the end of a sentence. I am often telling my staff to not write emails and go talk to people….its not always possible but they ALWAYS get better results when they do. We are built for community – even you introverted types!


So why am I telling you something you already know? Well, today I had one of those experiences of hearing the story behind the story. Until I chatted I made assumptions about a person thinking they were gruff and unhelpful. It turns out there was a perfectly reasoned motive behind this persons actions but my initial interpretation had me seeing the worst case scenario – but it didn’t end there.

One of the best things I did was make time to catch up – simple. Over coffee we shared each others life history and surprise surprise, with a little bit of context, I was easily able to understand why they may have reacted the way they did. It isn’t brain surgery but understanding someones story rewires the powerful negative forces that can derail things so quickly. My caveat is of course it isn’t always this simple, but in my experience it often is.

It is so much easier to increase your bandwidth of tolerance when you feel compassion for someone and a good way to do this is know someones story. When you trust each other, challenging conversations are heard in the intended tone not the heightened one augmented by your own life experiences. Fortunately as I get older I have more of these kinds of relationships and it is amazing how much more enjoyable life is when you feel known and you can trust people.

It doesn’t take much time to listen to someones story. Understanding someones unique road map to the heart is more helpful than relying on assumptions.

2 thoughts on “The Story Behind The Story

  1. How ironic. I have to leave an email address to comment. Good thoughts, my friend. It’s something I regularly have to do working with offenders. When you read the info about them before meeting them, it often colours one’s thinking about them. I try and do my first interviews without looking too much at the details of their crime. So when are you going to pop over for a coffee so we can discus life? Beautiful day here in Cairns.


    • Ha Stuart, that is really funny and even more so now that I am writing back! I can imagine this would be very true for you in your job. Wow the more I think about it you really are on the cold face of this.
      I am guessing you’d have some pretty amazing stories to tell – I feel a book coming on for you!!!


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