I'm a big fan of Anthony Wolf, the child psychologist who writes a parenting column in The Globe and Mail. I'm long past the parenting era of my life but I can still use the life lessons I learned from those years. I like to think that I would have been a better parent if Wolf's column had been available. Yes, I'd like to think that. However, I'm not that dumb. I doubt it would have helped. I had to stumble through those parenting years and learn those important lessons my own way. That's just the nature of the beast.
Perhaps the most important lesson I could have learned from Mr. Wolf was someething he preaches in almost every column. Detatchment! By that he is saying, "don't own someone else's journey". Feel sympathy. Feel empathy. Feel compassion. But there's nothing to be gained by suffering as they suffer.
Easier said than done.
Being one of five kids in a small rural community in Northern Ontario in the 1950's, I'm certain my mom didn't know what I was up to most of the time. I banged up lots of knees, fell out of few trees and engaged in a few scraps with other kids. She might hear about it when I got home but unless I was hospitalized, I doubt she gave it a second thought. Nor did I want her to. These were my pains, my problems and I wasn't inclined to share them with her. We were both better for it. Nothing would have been gained had I offered her the opportunity to fuss.
Let's apply this same approach to business or medicine or plumbing. A negotitor who can maintain some distance from the outcome will be more objective and clear headed when applying their analytical skills to the problem at hand. I don't want my surgeon to think too much about what I'm personally going through as he's cutting me open to fix a problem. I simply want him to stick to the task at hand and do the best job he can do. I don't interpret this to mean he doesn't care. And the plumber? Please don't worry about the flood and the clean up. Just stop the damn leak.
When I'm in a public place and a little kid is acting up, screaming and flailing about because he can't have his own way, I think of this as the parent's stress level climbs higher and higher. I just want to go over and gently say, "Relax. It's his/her problem. They'll get over it."