Yesterday, I got an email from someone asking me to setup a meeting with someone else. The minute I read the email, I felt dejected. This other person (let’s call him Ben) with whom I was asked to setup some time is not someone I am particularly fond of and I disliked the idea of his having anything to do with my day. It impacted me so strongly that it basically ruined my day. As you may remember, I was already grumpy so that didn’t help things much either. I kept looking at the email and pouting.
Not just pouting, but I kept making scenarios in my head about the content of the meeting, the attitude of Ben and I got grouchier and grouchier. By the end of the day, I was already confident I knew how this meeting would go. And I decided it was a lost cause. And then I wasn’t just grumpy. I was mad. And I was really sad.
The meeting is not until tomorrow.
This morning, I woke up and decided I needed to change my attitude around this whole thing. I knew that if I walked into this meeting with the mentality I had about Ben, I wouldn’t hear anything he said. As I learned in a class I took long ago, I would be Already Always Listening which means I would be listening to his words through the filter of my feelings for him. I would interpret his words inside my mind, giving them a negative spin. I would not really be listening to him but my own version of what he’s saying.
Which seemed the opposite of this week’s intent of listening carefully.
The truth is, I’ve only interacted with Ben once. For a very short period. I wanted something from him and he didn’t do what I wanted. He didn’t handle it the way I wanted. One time, two years ago. One time.
If someone else were judging me on the one interaction we’ve ever had, I’d be really disappointed. I’d want to be given the benefit of the doubt. I’d want them to give me a chance and come to the meeting with an open mind. In fact, if he already has similar feelings about me, I know I want him to be at this meeting with an open mind (even though I clearly don’t have one.)
This afternoon, as I was journaling about all this, my hypocrisy hit me in the face. And I almost laughed out loud. At how obvious it is once I write it out. Think it through. At how ridiculous it is. At how horrible I was being.
What’s the point of having the meeting at all if I’ve already decided the outcome?
How is it I am holding him to a different standard than I am holding myself?
So I made a plan. My goal is to go to this meeting with a beginner’s mind. I will assume I’ve never met Ben before. I will assume he has good intentions (as much as I would assume from any stranger to whom I give the benefit of the doubt.) I will listen to the word that he says. The actual words. I will listen carefully. I will give him my attention.
I will also listen to the universe. And I will listen to my gut.
But I will do this after our conversation. I will sit and process it a bit. And then form my opinions. From information gathered during our talk.
And then if the outcome is not ideal, so be it.
At least it won’t be because I didn’t listen.