There are only so many ways…

… of interpreting a situation. And I'm sometimes shocked and surprised at how my behaviour and others' behaviour is interpreted. I wonder at how the social mores of different situations and environments can be interpreted so differently. What I might think of as a complex nuanced situation might be straight forward for another person. What might seem unbelievably rude to one person might be just accepted by another. What might seem like good leadership to one person might seem like shoddy people management by another. What toeing the line might be to one individual might be passive aggressive to another. And while I've set this paragraph up with a list of dichotomies, it is never so simple as that.

Today has made me think about all of these interpretations. Sure I've been thinking more about perspective in general since the US election last week, but I think my life in general allows me to make such observations on a more regular basis as I see different groups of individuals interact. And I do indeed interact with a large swath of different people. A few noteworthy groups who might have different expectations include my Kiwanis friends and club members, my pub Monday friends, the people I see at my Tuesday night board game group, the friends I invite over for social gatherings in general, the people I work with for GOBfest or with GELA or with many other organizations of which I am a part, my co-workers (at different offices too), and so many others in person and online.

And the behaviours I might have all the patience in the world with in one environment might be intolerable in others. But it's usually more subtle than that. Much more subtle. So it takes some of these more extreme encounters to remind me of the full spectrums of possibilities when it comes to what might be deemed acceptable or even encouraged in different atmospheres.

And I wonder at how that will change for me over time. Because it has already changed dramatically over my lifetime, at least in certain ways. And I can't expect anything different. But sometimes it is simply a shock to the system to realize just how differently two people might interpret a single event or activity… and more difficult still to reconcile these differences if people are to get along or continue to interact positively, especially when these differences are substantial. Social mores are pretty important after all.