A bee flies into the room and three staff members look up as they hear the buzz.
One barely even notices the bee.
One thinks, “Oh, I hope it doesn’t come near me,” and goes back to her task.
The last staff member cannot look away from the bee, fearing for his life.
The same bee. Three different reactions. Which one is right? Which one is wrong?
The person who barely notices the bee has never had a negative encounter with them. The person who is mildly annoyed by the bee was stung once, with no adverse reaction. The staff member who was fearful for his life is allergic to bees, so the threat is real.
We can understand that the staff members are right in their own perceptions. We understand that the same bee means different things to people based on their values and prior experiences. Do we afford the same grace in other situations?
What about the teacher who is afraid of the student who is showing signs of aggression? Do we remember that she was seriously hurt by a student a few years ago?
What about the parent who is so anxious about his daughter’s academic progress even though she is catching up? Do we recognize that he struggled in school himself and doesn’t want that for his daughter?
What about the student who laughs after he accidentally runs into a classmate? This student was not taught how to show empathy, is embarrassed, and doesn’t know how to react appropriately. Do we give him grace?
Three students get into an argument during recess and each one has a different story. Do we accuse them of lying, or could it be possible that all of them are right?
There is no truth. There is only perception.
Once we accept that perception is reality, we open the doors to understanding and empathy. First, we must accept our own biases and skewed view of reality. It is our truth. Then, we can accept the same for others. Exploring what motivates behavior is key to understanding each other.
That mutual understanding levels the playing field and helps us all move forward together. Because…
Logic will never change emotion or perception.
-Edward de Bono
Image credit: HERE