I wonder what you hear when I say the two words Summer Holidays? I can sense some of you are glancing again at my question and wondering if I’m on some sort of Cliff Richard inspired narcotics. Summer – one of the four seasons, right? And holiday – a vacation we take away from work and school? Add them together and we get a break from work/school in the sunshine. Well yes and yes, this is the perspective of the ‘pragmatist’ amongst us. The ones of us who attach meanings literally, typically without emotion.
For some, it may come as a surprise there are other tribes of people with a whole kaleidoscope of different opinions conjured out from these two simple words. I call this surprised tribe the ‘naturists’; content with expressing an opinion and oblivious to the opinion of others. If you’re of a personality type similar to my son, the ‘visionary’; summer holidays mean any kind of weather, one on one time with friends and family for days on end. Crushed ice sweet cones, the chaos of a kids club and a splashy swimming pool. For the ‘reactors’ among us, thoughts of an imminent summer holiday mean an intensive 4 weeks at the gym post a daily food allowance of 500 calories. Bikini ready, right NOW! For me, the ‘freedom seeker’; these words prompt a spontaneous email to friends with kids to understand whose vacationing somewhere fun lastminute.com. Then a heartfelt attempt to bribe Pierce’s current au pair to consider extending her year long stay with us to help me with my work commitments and child care needs during this two month kid headache. Apologies – break.
If it’s possible two simple words – summer holidays – can mean a whole range of different things to all these different tribes of people, imagine the possible misunderstandings and conflict our well intentioned simple words can also create in our every day lives.
If we assume all we speak, see, hear, touch and smell impacts us and others via the ‘meaning’ we attach, to avoid possible conflict and misunderstandings it’s useful to get clear through seeking clarification and asking questions. Clearing any assumptions is always required.
So the next time you chose to feel offended by someone’s words, try offering them the benefit of the doubt, as you likely did as a child when you held less opinions and assumptions. Look to seek clarification and to get clear of their intentions through further understanding, before jumping to any conclusions. Perhaps the story you’re attaching to their words is far from the truth they intended you to understand.
Have a compassionate summer.