Almost all of us live next door, on a street in a neighborhood, close to somebody. The person or persons may be just like us, or totally different…but one thing you can almost count on, they won’t be identical to us. Ninety percent of the time they may totally agree with us, but there is still that ten percent to deal with. We are all in our lives, at home, at work, at play, walking Diplomats. We represent our way of life….while others represent their world. Like good Diplomats, the goal is to present ideas, listen to others, and find common ground.

In a world made up of so many people, Diplomacy has become more important than ever. The attitude of “My way or the highway,” is a thing of the past. A little story I would like to share with you:

A friend of mine lived next door to this couple that had a large barking dog. The dog’s name was Cyril. He barked out in the back garden all day and most of the evening. My friend paced the floor, wondering how to get the dog to stop barking. A number of people mentioned to him numerous solutions, like “Get your own barking dog, to bark back,” “Shower the dog with water,” or “Blast loud music.” My friend eventually decided to go next door, to talk to the dogs owner. He knocked on the door, said “Hi, I live next door….I think you have a wonderful dog, but I would appreciate it if you could tone him down a little.” Upon hearing this, the next door neighbor apologized for his dog, not realizing what a nuisance he had become. Two days passed, and the next door neighbor arrived at my friend’s house with a hot apple pie that came from the local bakery, as a way of saying “I’m sorry.” The moral of the story is, before even considering other solutions, my friend decided it was best to go and talk to the dog’s owner, politely and calmly. Who would have known that because the owner of the dog had a wife who was dying of cancer, he had totally zoned out in his mind that their dog was making a raucous outside. While all thought that this man didn’t care about the noise from his dog, little did they know the pain the man was dealing with.

Diplomacy may not always work, and you may eventually have to contact the authorities, but so many times we totally misunderstand each other. Communication is a strange thing. We think we know what someone is trying to say, but we could be way off. We all deal with so many problems during the day, it becomes not so much what we can see and hear, but what we can’t.
As we head off into the world each morning, we are the Diplomats of our home. And as any good Diplomat will tell you, “We all have to find a way to get along.”

Shake a hand,

Jennifer Avalon
© 2000 Jennifer Avalon

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