“I don’t understand”

As a person who grew up on the straight and narrow with impressively judgmental parents, there are some things that have taken time for me to stop judging. (There are others I’m still working on…)

Some brilliant advice I read somewhere a long time ago: instead of seeing or hearing about someone/something and saying, “that’s stupid,” approach it with either “I don’t understand” or “tell me more.” Variations on a theme.

Basically, instead of taking one small detail and pretending to see the whole picture (or as much of “the whole” as we ever see), acknowledge ignorance.

That said, there have been plenty of times when I’ve looked for more and not gotten more (just got the same thing over and over), so trying to learn doesn’t guarantee learning … or the type of learning we’re talking about here. And sometimes what you learn confirms that the person/thing was exactly what you thought. Rarely, but sometimes.

Regardless of the potential failures, attempting to learn more does sometimes lead to interesting and thought-provoking conversations. And those are a nice gift.

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