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<xTITLE>Why We Have Different Experiences</xTITLE>

Why We Have Different Experiences

by Jason Dykstra
June 2015

Jason Dykstra Blog by Jason Dykstra

Jason Dykstra

An uncle and his nephew went to a parade in their local community. They sat for a couple of hours watching the floats go by, gathering a candy stock, and waving at the people occupying the floats. After the parade the uncle and his nephew were chatting about the parade over a sprinkle donut and the uncle asked his nephew, “So, what was your favourite part of the parade?”

The nephew responded, “The trucks!”

“Uh what? Not the clowns or the magicians, or the marching band?” said the uncle.

“Are you kidding? They had Mac trucks, Peterbilt trucks, and all kinds of other trucks!” (Story modified from Difficult Conversations)

How often does this happen to us? We experience the same action as another person and walk away from the action with a totally different perspective that happened. It happens at staff meetings, conversations with our bosses or employees, and even with our partners and kids.

If you take a look at the image above, you’ll notice that there are two realms. Intent and Effect typically live in the private realm and Action lives in the public realm. An action would be defined as the thing that someone did or said (or didn’t do). It’s the joke told at the lunch table, it’s the snide remark from your employee, it could even be not saying good morning to the folks around you. Essentially, it’s something that everyone present can experience and interpret.

So how can we experience the same action and walk away with different perspectives? The other day I was meeting with a client and he was talking about a situation where a person, who he was in conflict with, brought coffee for the team. That person put the purchased coffee’s down on the table, announced that coffee was there, and walked away. People came up, grabbed a coffee and went back to their desk. When my client walked up to the table, there was no coffee left. He was hurt as he felt that it was done on purpose to spite him.

There’s two things that generally make up our view of these actions. The first is that we all have different backgrounds. We have different upbringings, heritage, cultures, education, and experiences. All these things give us the context in which we view the action that we are experiencing. Secondly, and I’ll talk about this in a different post, we view the person through our past experiences with that person.

Often we view an action as a fact or truth. Which it is…it’s our truth. It’s what’s true for us. I’ve talked about this before, that there is typically a reasonable reason for unreasonable behaviour.

In the coming posts, we’re going to talk about the intent of the action and the effect that the action had on the other person, so if you don’t want to miss that, sign up for the newsletter below!


Jason is a Conflict Management Specialist who is helping organizations and congregations move from conflict situations to creative solutions. He specializes in relational and communication issues and uses his experience and training in mediation, group facilitation, conflict management coaching, speaking and teaching to aid you and your surroundings to better cope with conflict and become more conflict resilient. Jason has a background in social services, working with individuals with developmental disabilities, mental health and at-risk youth. He complements his experience with an Advanced Certificate in Conflict Management and is currently in pursuit of his Master's Degree in Leadership. Jason lives in St. George, Ontario with his beautiful wife and two children.

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