The purpose of today’s podcast is to help you better understand and appreciate people you might find challenging or “different”, in a way that leaves you ill at ease. We offer today’s podcast because we feel that good relationships are a crucial aspect of everyone’s life.
Today’s tool is based on five fundamental questions you can ask yourself as a means to help you get clear and create the possibility of a better relationship.
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When you are ready, scroll down to the Musings section of this newsletter and I will share some of my further thoughts on appreciating difference in others.
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Living in Japan as a “gaijin” for about 30 years now has really given me the opportunity to better understand how to make the most out of relationships with people who are significantly different than me.
“Gaijin” literally translated means “outside person” which to the Japanese, means anyone other than a Japanese person. And there is another related term that is often used, “henna gaijin” or “strange outside person”. In fact I often jokingly say to my Japanese friends that most every “gaijin” is a “henna gaijin” because almost all of us tend to approach the world much differently than the average Japanese.
A number of years ago during a break in one of my seminars, my students started commenting about how strange it must be for “gaijin” to have intimate relationships with Japanese people. After a bit of give and take one young Japanese lady in her late twenties said, “Well, I have no idea what it is like to be married to a “gaijin” but when I got married a few years ago I must say it felt like I had all of a sudden moved to a foreign country. My Japanese husband had, and still has, such unusual habits. Even today, I can’t make much sense out of much of what he does!. Maybe marrying a “gaijin” wouldn’t have been as strange as marrying my Japanese husband!”
Hearing what she had to say made me chuckle, and it also made me think some. I felt she had said something profound, even though the sense I got from her was that she was just complaining a little bit.
One thing that gets clearer and clearer to me as my life continues on is that each and every one of us has a model of the world that is different than anyone else on the planet. Sure, Japanese people have many cultural similarities with each other, but what is dissimilar is also of definite importance. Why? Because I think it is at the interface of “the difference between us” where many people get stuck in their relationships. Likely people of all nationalities face this challenge. No matter how homogeneous a culture might be, I think each culture has many “henna gaijin”, and often it is the unusual person, the eccentric person, that is not held in high regard by others.
You see, much of our thinking, beliefs, and habits seem to be “only natural” to each and every one of us. And when something appears as natural, we often don’t have positive thoughts regarding a person that goes against this natural order. We tend to have judgments about this person and their “strangeness”. So what to do? Well, that’s some of what Tony and I talk about in our podcast. We lead you through 5 specific questions to help you understand and appreciate the difference between you and someone else.
So, if you would like to make better relationships by appreciating the differences in others, please have a listen to our podcast.