Wendy Kalman
There are many ways to see and understand

How can I do better

The thought behind creating this blog in the first place was to be able to take the multiple perspectives I think I bring to any given situation and use them to offer a voice which is helpful. I’d like to address each of those elements, if I may.

Multiple perspectives. We each see life from our own perspective. I thought — and still do — that I bring more than a Long Island Jewish woman’s perspective to the table. I’d lived in Israel for over a decade, been married to a Mizrahi with a family ranging from ultra-Orthodox to secular and whose siblings themselves married people from a variety of backgrounds, had kids in its mamlachti-dati (governmental religious) schools, and a year after my divorce, returned to the States to live in the south, married someone who’d grown up here, but whose Eastern European family moved to the United States from Mexico where they’d lived since after the Holocaust. Got divorced again, this time through US secular courts. I’ve also worked for non-profits and for-profits in both countries. All these lent me different views from which to see a story unfolding. I recognize that these views are still only my own. So many others exist. I don’t have yours, you don’t have mine.

If we take that one step further, in understanding perspective is limited, we should know not to be quick to judge. What I see is not what someone else sees; it may only be part of the story. Coincidentally, just last week I wrote about recognizing I don’t know enough and the need to ask. Last February as well, I blogged about how we know what we know but we don’t know what we don’t. If all I have is an incomplete story, I’d rather ask what is missing than fill in gaps on my own.

Let me offer an example. Over the past year or two, my view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has evolved. I see the Palestinian’s plight differently than I did earlier and in questioning the views I both hold and don’t hold, I’ve had to look inside and examine how I come to decisions. My point is not to open this discussion today but to emphasize that if we allow ourselves to see and hear what we’ve not seen and heard before, we can begin to understand others’ points of views, something we should all aspire to. All the experiences I’ve had cannot place me in another’s shoes; all of yours cannot tell you what you do not know about any given situation you weren’t part of. This is why we cannot ever discount another’s point of view and why it is important to try and see things from another’s perspective.

Voice. The flipside of sharing perspectives with others is that it has to be done in a way that is clear. All the words in the world will not help another understand what I wanted to say if I haven’t defined that for myself and then chosen my words appropriately. Jay Shetty’s video, Words can’t be taken back, lays it out brilliantly. His first of three tips includes using the acronym THINK to be a guideline before trying to use “conscious communication to be the change.” Is what you have to say True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Who Knows this person (or group, I might add) best?

This week, I set off a firestorm in a Facebook group I belong to. I did not intend to. It made sense that I was judged based on what I wrote, because I offered it up, but I should’ve written it better. I recounted a conversation that I wish I could’ve known how to handle differently and expressed admiration for group members who would have. I should’ve provided more details at the onset. And perhaps even more importantly, I should’ve ended with a clear ask for advice. If I look at Jay Shetty’s criteria, I see that what I wrote was Truthful but incomplete, not Helpful, since it offered up nothing but a complaint, not Inspiring since it pointed to failure, and was not Necessary — at least not as it was. Had I ended by asking what I could’ve done, then it might’ve transformed my post from useless to useful. But I didn’t. I didn’t use my voice well.

Helpful. Blogging is a way to reach others, but if my perspective is not wide enough or my words not chosen wisely enough, I cannot be helpful.

To date, I’ve jumped back and forth primarily between commentary on current events and trying to promote the attributes I wish the world had more of. Though I’ve spelled out my rationale for the blog before, I must admit Its direction isn’t clear. In trying to figure out where it should go, I struggle with the question: How can I ensure that my perspective and my voice can actually be helpful? Constructive suggestions welcome.

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Lawn Guyland, Wendy lived in Jerusalem for over a decade submerged in Israeli culture; she has been soaked in Southern life in metro Atlanta since returning to the U.S. in 2003. Recently remarried, this Ashkenazi mom of three Mizrahi sons, 26, 23 and 19, splits her time between managing knowledge in corporate America, pursuing a dual masters in public administration and integrated global communications, blogging, relentlessly Facebooking, once-in-a-while veejaying, enjoying the arts and digging out of the post-move carton chaos of her and her husband's melded household.