Scotty Schrier, a regular contributor to ‘The Good Men Project’, explores “the conversation no one else is having.”
Yesterday, I came across a quote that spoke to me on so many levels: “When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.” – Louis C.K.
This speaks to so many issues today. I won’t go into all of them, but if you look at any situation where someone is protesting or speaking out about something, they are usually saying, “You are hurting me!” Are we listening? Are we deciding to help? Or, are we busy denying that we are hurting anyone?
I shared a photo on my timeline on Facebook with that quote on it, and it sat for fourteen hours garnering likes and shares. I wasn’t surprised it was getting shared, because the quote resonates with people, right? I found that all of the likes and shares were from women. I also found one of the women who shared the photo also garnered likes on her page. Interestingly enough, the likes on her share were also all women.
It took fourteen hours before a man liked the image on my page. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I have no clue how Facebook’s algorithms work. I have no idea how many people actually saw the post as this was on my personal page where we are not privy to that information like we are on Facebook blog pages. It just seemed odd that the ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ were so disproportionately by women. Is this because women are just more empathetic than men, and therefore this quote rings truer for them?
The debate still rages whether or not empathy is innate or taught. Most modern research is finding that it is actually a little bit of both. Empathy does have components that are innate, but someone’s life can veer them to be more or less empathetic to fellow human beings. I can buy that.
What would make someone more empathetic? Shared misery might do it. If you’re a guy, you’ve probably been kicked in the balls before. If you’re a dad, you’ve definitely been kicked in the balls before! Which is why when someone talks about getting a vasectomy, dudes tend to cringe a bit and express their sympathy for said dude who is getting his junk cut open. We can imagine our pain and then put ourselves in those shoes.
If you’re a woman, and you’ve had kids, watching a video of a child being born might make you cross your legs and grimace. If you breastfed and another mom talks about a teething child biting her nipple, you can probably almost feel that pain yourself. This shared pain forms a link between you and this other person, and it makes you feel for them.
Now, back to the quote: “When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.” Why were more women liking and sharing this than men? Why did this quote resonate with women? My guess is more women than men get told, “No, I didn’t hurt you” at some point in their lives by the people who just hurt them. In fact, this morning I apologized to my wife, because I know for a fact that I’ve done exactly that. I know that in the past I’ve said something that, for some reason beyond my manly understanding, she took the wrong way and it hurt her feelings and I responded with something like “No, that didn’t! Cut the bullshit, there is no way that hurt your feelings!”
One thing I’ve learned over the last few years of deciding it was time to actually have some of these hard conversations is this: if you come to a table to have a conversation about anything, you have to also be willing to admit that your viewpoint might not be 100% right. Otherwise, there’s no conversation. You’re just talking and expecting someone to listen to you and walk away with your viewpoint.
I’ve always thought of myself as a modern man with forward-thinking viewpoints. Yet, I can still go back and see how so many times I was just the same troglodyte as my forbearers, just in different animal skins. I am willing to sit at a table and say, “This is what I believe. I may be wrong; but, I may be right. I’m willing to learn. Let’s talk!” I usually find that most answers aren’t hanging out in the extremes. Rather, they are somewhere in the middle where compromise, respect, and if the stars are aligned, even empathy reside.
Have you had any conversations no one else is having, lately? What was your takeaway? Did you give and take, or just take? Did you listen as much as you talked? Were you willing to accept a different outcome than you hoped for? Did you learn anything from it?
I’ve learned a lot recently, and it’s told me that I have more yet to learn. We’re getting there, everyone, but we’ve still got more work to do. At least, I know I do.
Photo: Flickr/Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff