Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Disclosure - Should I or Shouldn't I?

Sorry; nothing provocative here. Just a general observation about what we share and don't share with others.

I want people to get their first impressions of me based on what I say and do - not what they assume about me because of my religious or educational bio. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “No way! You can’t be ______________ ." (Mormon, a Harvard grad, a salesman, a socially liberal Republican, the father of six, etc.) If these specific people had known that particular thing about me, they would have jumped to conclusions that would have changed the way they interpreted what I was saying.

On the other hand, sometimes I feel compelled to do some “calling dropping” when I am about to explain a doctrinal or social perspective to a politically conservative member or Church audience - for the exact same reason. For example, I don’t want to be dismissed out of hand as “faithless” just because I don’t believe the Priesthood ban was God’s will. In that case, unfortunately, disclosing my current calling or some of my past callings helps the hearer grant me a degree of legitimacy that they might not grant otherwise. It’s sad, and I wish it weren't so, but it’s real.

In each case, ironically, I am using my own assumptions in order to attempt to avoid confusion or incorrect assumption by someone else.

As a young man, I heard and internalized the statement, “It is more important to not be misunderstood by anyone than it is to be understood by everyone,” and I disclose or don’t disclose based primarily on that standard. That's also why I tend to be overly long-winded - which, again ironically, often ends up causing me to write complex, multi-faceted sentences that make it more difficult for readers to remember the point I was making at the beginning of the sentence - or the post.

See? :-)


Mama D said...

We really do often jump to conclusions about others, not maliciously and often unconsciously, but we do it just the same.

What a powerful insight that in trying to avoid misinterpretations we use our own assumptions about others!

Your post also makes me stop and think: Do I consider the "should I or shouldn't I" question often enough -- in what I post, what I say, what I do? That is a very thought-provoking question to ponder...

Hmmm... should I or shouldn't I include this in my comment? Well, it's true and everyone knows it anyway, so I will. *grin, as you say* Thanks for sharing your wisdom on your blog. I LOVE YOU!

Patty said...

It's kinda funny the way people perceive us depending on what we disclose about ourselves. Sometimes (this shows my ornery side!) I'll disclose something just to watch the other person's eyes widen and see the "I had no idea" light bulb go on. What's even more interesting is to watch how they treat me after finding something out. It's sad that knowing, or not knowing, something about someone can so greatly affect how we treat them.

ANTSYLLI said...

What was that post about? I was trying to figure out that last sentence! Oh, yes, disclosure...You know, I never really thought about it before. I have always considered myself pretty much, what you see is what you get. I do make judgements about people and situations which makes it reasonable to conclude that others would do the same with me. Part of me screams, "Why do I care?" The other part of me says, "I need to care." The last several years I have learned a lot about reserving my judgement and not jumping to conclusions. Thanks for making me think about this...

Patty said...

I was just thinking about your post again. I read a great book awhile ago that emphasized the fact that everyone has their own "secret." We may not be able to see clearly what is going on inside someone's head, but usually there is a good reason for the way people act. Often there is a "secret"- whether it's an alcoholic father, physical abuse, insecurity, struggles with sins, or even financial troubles. If, when we see someone doing something we might automatically judge as "wrong", we instead take a step back and ask "what is that person's secret?" it can help us to develop compassion for that person, rather than loathing or criticism. (We don't ever even need to know what their secret really is.. just giving them the benefit of a doubt and trying to see things in a different light can make a huge impact on the way we see them.)
Just thought I'd share that.. not like you don't hear enough from me already!! *grin*