If you’re interested in getting to know people better, being a leader or manager, or just plain trying to understand people better, one of the things you’ll need to come to terms with is that everyone has secrets. These secrets are often the inner layers of the onion for a person and largely define who they are. If you simply take people at face value, you’ll often be disappointed by decisions they make unless you realize they have secrets and stuff that you just don’t know about.
One of my favorite scenes in television is from the show, Breaking Bad. In it, Gustavo Fring, a drug lord, and Walter White, the main character – a chemistry teacher who now sells drugs – are in a partnership together. Walter cooks the meth. Gustavo distributes it. He and Walter White briefly talk to each other at a city event and Gustavo talks about how he hides in plain sight just like Walter White. Nobody knows they are drug lords even though they are out in the open for everyone to see.
I think many of us hide in plain sight with our secrets. For the really observant person, you might start to notice people’s secrets. It could be something they say, where they go, what they eat, who they talk to, etc… I’m not suggesting stalking people. But I am suggesting that if you want to understand people and get to know them better, you must realize their secrets and do so without a prying approach, but more of with a motive of understanding and kindness.
One approach to realizing someone’s secrets is to just pay attention to them and listen. Ask them questions about their life without being too prying. Don’t ask just to get information. Ask so that you can listen and potentially provide a solution or comfort to their secret. Most of the time, if someone has something they are hiding, it is because they are afraid to share it with people because they don’t want to hurt anyone or feel embarrassed or cast out.
Life can get hard. We get sick, injured, stressed and much more. You can do everything right in your life and still get smacked around by life a bit. It’s important to realize that everyone goes through this smacking about phase. I myself feel like life is trying to smack me around a bit right now with a bad shoulder, lower back strain, and the challenges of raising a family and being a manager at work. Of course there is more to my life than that, but if someone wanted to care about me, they’d start there (if they were reading and listening :))
I care about people – I care about you. Listen with love to people. Repeat back what they are saying. Then try to offer advice and counsel where it makes sense. Don’t do it from how you think things should be. Honor what their desires are for themselves. And realize that everyone has secrets and often they are not shared due to fear. Approach someone with love and compassion today instead of judgment. I think the world would be an even better place if we all did so. I’ll leave with this video called “Secrets” by One Republic.
To those with secrets, I love and support you.
- You Are the White Knight
- When You Need a Kick In the Rear
- Listen and Do It
- Podcast – How To Not Have A Sucky Day
- An Introduction To Jeremy’s “Wizard Club”