An idea that has always stuck with me has been the “Power of Context.” I’ve felt it. High-energy from working in the right place, low-energy from bad weather, and then reading works by Malcolm Gladwell provided more data proving the phenomenon is real to me.
Beyond that, context is powerful.
It’s also fluid.
Interacting with different people can change the context. It’s up to you to try to maintain yourself and your behavior regardless of what is shifted. In my career, having many conversations with people, questioning and understanding more than talking has been vital. I continue to hone that skillset, but there are other situations where it seemingly falls apart.
Talking with my family about politics, it all goes out the window. I don’t behave the same way. I don’t seek to understand nearly as much. These are the people I grew up with and may see me different than professional acquaintances. Still, it should be on me to behave the same way, seek to first understand, then seek to be understood. Perhaps the context is “I have known these people all my life, I do understand them.” However, it’s not true. I’m misleading myself by believing it. No one shares a 100% life experience with anyone. No one has the entirely same background to draw on.
Next time you are working with someone you think you understand, whether family, friend, colleague, or customer, make sure the context is one of understanding.