Meeting people where they are is probably one of the simplest and most genuine things you can do in any type of relationship. We’ve all had conversations with people that don’t get us. They aren’t the most moving conversations in the world, and I, for one, walk away feeling unheard, unrecognized, and completely misunderstood.
Think about your friends and family. There are those you feel closer to than others. Now, think about the ones you feel closer to. Why do you feel closer to them? Is it because it’s their way or the highway? I think not. When someone does not see or hear you, it feels less intimate. It feels disconnected and, on some level, it feels like what’s going on with me doesn’t matter (unheard, unrecognized, misunderstood).
How about this? When I converse with someone who sees and hears me, I feel a greater connection with them. It feels closer. I feel like they are meeting me where I am. Their beliefs or ideas about topics may be drastically different from mine, and that’s okay. When they are with me and my thoughts, without pushing their own, I feel heard and understood. Doesn’t that feel great? I’m more apt to share what’s really going on inside when this door is open.
On the flip side, when I listen to them, if they are sharing something that is outside my wheelhouse, allowing them to have their belief, however different it is from mine, creates a deeper connection. There’s no need for them to be in my space in order for us to relate to each other. I like them; I like who they are, and it’s okay for them to do themselves.
There are as many beliefs about things as there are people in this world. Because we are each unique individuals, isn’t it okay for me to meet you where you are, and for you to meet me where I am? Can we be friends, colleagues, or family and have these differences? Maybe there’s something to this idea of meeting people where they are. Shall we play with it a little?