In the book, Ascent of a Leader, the beginning of chapter 7 is a quote by William James which says this:
“Whenever two people meet there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.”
I found this to be profound and quite true. The real honest thing is to identify these people and acknowledge that they are sitting with you at that table or in that coffee shop. They greatly affect the resulting relationship and can influence the connection between the two people.
When I meet someone new for the first time I really see this play out in our conversation. Every week during the school year I spend about an hour at the local high school meeting new teens and connecting with old ones. I sometimes enjoy the scrumptious nutritional lunch as well.
I notice this right away, the teens are trying to figure out who’s dad I am. Then I usually break the ice by introducing myself and saying what I do. Right away I see their minds struggling with how they identify themselves to me. “He’s not a teacher?! He is short?! Does he really care about me?!”
They ask themselves these clarifying questions before they even proceed to introduce themselves. Usually the defenses go up and they try to push me away by acting like a jerk or establishing their social dominance over me by poking fun at me. That’s ok, I’m a grown man, I am not confined by their social order.
Every-time I walk into a lunch room, I am reminded that I am clearly a missionary..
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