Hello and good day!
A grown man was standing next to a playground watching his children run and climb and play. It was cold and windy and drizzly out and the man would much rather have been sitting in a warm coffee shop drinking a hot drink.
But it had been a long day, and the children were great sports through many adult activities such as visiting museums, looking at old historical buildings, and so forth.The kids saw the playground in the distance while standing in front of a bathroom that the entire group had stopped to use.
A little one pulled the man's sleeve and made a pleading face.
"Can we go to the playground dad? Please?"
"Ok. Let's go. You've been so good all day. You deserve it."
The kids took off running through a long, wet, grassy field and the father followed behind, staying on the park's grey concrete walkways.
The rest of the group didn't know where the man was headed, but he figured they'd give him a call when they'd finished with the restroom.
The man walked down the only trail that led out of the bathroom area and into the park. The trail was off to the right of the bathroom building and it was a very short trail. After just a few feet, the short trail on the right came to a fork, with an intersecting path that ran far off in either direction through the big and beautiful park.
The man turned left at the fork and walked through the lovely, wide-open park, filled with grass and palm trees, and he marveled at how the skinny trunks of the palm trees swayed far to either side in the wind, but never tumbled over. He kept walking until the path ran directly in front of the playground.
Back at the bathroom, an immediate left out of the doorways led to a snack bar and then a parking lot and behind the parking lot, apartment buildings.
The entire park was to the right of the bathrooms.
While the man was standing near the playground, with his hands in his coat pockets, shivering and monitoring the children, his phone buzzed, and he answered it. It was the man's father, the children's grandfather.
"Hi son," said the grandfather.
"Hi pop," said the man.
"Where are you?"
"I brought the kids over to a playground."
"How do we get there?"
"Walk out of the bathrooms and then hang a left."
"Got it. Thanks son."
Time passed, but the group didn't show up.
The man thought that the delay was peculiar, but sometimes it takes a while to get a large group organized and moving.
His phone buzzed again.
It was grandpa.
"Where are you son?"
"I'm at the playground."
"We can't find you."
"Hold on a second."
The man turned away from the playground and scanned the park and then looked back towards the bathrooms. The man's eyes weren't as good as they used to be, but when he squinted, he could see the fuzzy outlines of what looked like the group, wandering in the parking lot.
"Pop, are you in the parking lot?"
"Yes. We're in the parking lot."
"What in the world are you doing in the parking lot pop?"
"You told us to head left out of the bathrooms."
"Turn around pop and look towards the park. I'm waving at you."
Grandpa turned, but his eyes weren't great either. The son overheard grandpa on the phone talking to the group.
"He says he's waving. Can anybody see him?"
"There he is," said one of the people in the background.
"We see you. We're coming."
The group walked back across the front of the bathrooms, into the park, turned left at the fork, and made their way over to the playground.
When the grandpa saw his son, he walked right over and made an unintentionally stinging comment.
"Hey, you gave me the wrong directions son."
"What do you mean pop?"
"You said to hang a left. That was wrong."
"No, it wasn't wrong. You do head left out of the bathrooms. There is only one trail out of the bathrooms and into the park pop. That part is self-explanatory. Why would there be a playground in the parking lot? It goes without saying that you'd have to walk into the park first and then you make your left."
"No son. You should have said to turn right out of the bathrooms and then left. It was confusing the way you said it. You explained it poorly."
"I disagree. I think I explained it just fine. You just needed to use a little bit of common sense instead of rushing off without thinking things through first."
"Don't talk to me about common sense kid. I've been on this planet a lot longer than you have. If you would have explained it right, me and your poor mother and your grandmother with her walker, and your aunts and uncles, and your wife, wouldn't have been walking around in that slippery parking lot."
"You always do this pop. You always start an argument about some kind of little thing."
"And you've been doing this since you were a kid. You don't want to accept when you're wrong."
"I'm fine accepting when I'm wrong, only in this case, I'm not wrong. Why in God's name would there be a playground in the parking lot? The entire park is off to the right of the bathrooms!"
The man was raising his voice now and the grandfather was also growing angry.
"You said to turn left!"
"Why would you go left into a parking lot! There is nothing over there!"
Both men were grimacing and breathing hard and becoming shaky as adrenaline coursed through them.
Parents of the other children were glancing over, and the entire playground became tense as the men grew more and more impassioned in their dispute.
"Let's just drop it," said the son.
"Fine!" said the father.
For the next hour, the entire group was engulfed in a terrible awkward silence until the nerviness caused by the argument faded away.
I want to point something out.
Almost all arguments start because somebody told somebody else, directly, and without tact, that they were wrong.
Very few people in this world have the composure to hear that they are wrong without digging in and defending their position.
This even happens with very trivial things, like a left or right turn.
All of us have been in heated arguments over something that in retrospect seemed very silly.
We wonder how something so small could have escalated into something so intense. The problem is that once the die has been cast, and the stress hormones are pulsing in your veins, you lose control.
Your biology hijacks you.
To avoid these situations, we must be very tender and compassionate about telling people when they are wrong.
Or maybe you don't even tell them, and you let it slide, if it doesn't really matter.
By the way, I learned this lesson from How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, which I think is one of the best books of all time.
This lesson has helped me stay out of so many unnecessary arguments.
Unfortunately, I am an imperfect human being and I still slip up from time to time.
Thank you so much for time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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