… on ten core values for people-ing

screened porch in late afternoon

Last week, I had lunch with a very close and very old – like, not old but long-time – friend.

Along the hours (yep!), and on some topic or other (they come fastly and furiously), my friend made a gesture indicating she is sort of back and forth with her thoughts on a certain issue. I replied that I’m finding myself in the center, and she said, “As you do.” I was sort of caught off guard for the nanosecond before she explained, “You naturally find yourself there. It’s a very natural thing for you.”

We talked for a long time, over many topics serious and not so much, and finally it was time to go. We figured out when we could see each other again, and climbed into our cars.

On the drive home, I found myself circling around my friend’s observation that the center is a very ‘natural’ thing for me. I actually shrugged because, yeah, it is. But why?

I put the idea in my mental blender, and pressed ‘ponder’.

I realized that – for me – It is really about my committment to my own center… my core. If I stay true to that, the rest ‘naturally’ follows. A willingness to pull good ideas from many different sides and/or people – whether I personally agree with the totality of any given ‘side’, or ‘like’ (or don’t) the person(s) involved – was once a lauded trait. Today, by far too many, is cause for concern. That being said, I’m stubbornly sticking to it.

Having never tried, I wanted to see if I could list my rules/guidelines/somethings for holding my own center. The process was strange, and involved sitting with questions like, ‘How do I think about this?’, and ‘What do I lean on when I feel this way?’. Eventually, and with no target number, I came up with ten.

They are an agglomeration of ideas and experiences absorbed and applied. Some are derived from well-known concepts such as ‘active listening’. Some are just common sense. One is adapted from dog training.

An important thing though…

Core values are not about someone else, they are about you (well, in this case, me). They’re not about control, or ‘getting to yes’, or keeping the peace. When I’ve held true to them, I feel like I’ve shown up as my best self to the human connection festivities…

Even if my introverted self might have preferred to hang out in the corner… with the dog.


1.      We all have something to teach, and something to learn. 

All of us. Period.

2.     In the vast majority of cases, proving someone wrong isn’t important.

It just isn’t.

3.     I might be the person who is wrong.

‘Nuff said.

4.     Discuss to be understood, instead of arguing to win.

When the goal is understanding how the other person came to their viewpoint, versus how to get them to yours… things shift.

When we come from the position of how we each see things based on who we are, vs. thwapping each other with factoids from the news or book or podcast that supports our point of view, we are more vulnerable. But that is also when we are more open.

5.     Be comfortable in silence.

To process where the other person is coming from, not to judge.

6.     Don’t pull on the leash.

When training a dog to walk on a leash, you learn about ‘oppositional reflex’. The more you pull on the dog, the more the dog pulls on the leash. It seems counter-intuitive to stop pulling against the dog, yet that’s when the real communication, and progress, can happen.

Apply concept liberally to self and fellow humans.

7.     Stay curious

In a conversation where someone says something that sounds crazy, or outrageous (or makes your blood boil), stay curious. Ask for clarification (preferably before performing any eye-rolling or other dismissive gestures).

We don’t always have the exact same definition of words/terms, let alone a flawless ability to convey our thoughts and ideas. What you mean, and what I hear, may be two very different things (and vice versa).

Giving someone the opportunity to clarify, so I can understand where they are really coming from, is kind. It just is.

8.     Don’t assume motive.


Otherwise we risk building a fake version of a real person, a made up enemy. That’s a strawman, and creating one is not only an untruth, it’s a spectacularly manipulative unfair.

9.     Don’t take someone else’s version of me personally

Life circumstances and experiences, vocations and educations, cultures and religions, traumas and joys… all we are contributes to the lens with which we view the world, and each other.

If someone needs to put me in a box because I’m not fully on board with their point of view, or concocts a version of me that isn’t really representative of me, how I think, what I think, or who I am… well… that may be what they need to do, and for reasons I may never know.

10.    No one is just one thing.

I know. I’ve written about this a lot. It is a big time, personal tenet, and elemental to holding my center.

My boogiemen aren’t your boogiemen. What is most important to me probably isn’t exactly what is most important to you (and vice versa). If I prioritize something as the biggest problem in the northern hemisphere, and you don’t, you are not my enemy. You are not ‘the problem’. You are not ‘off my list’.

If you are generally kind…

Generally honest…

Generally don’t try to hurt anyone (or anything fuzzy, feathery, furry, fly-y, slime-y or scale-y (I’m kind of agnostic about things with too many legs (fine. don’t hurt those either)))…

Then I think we’ll figure the rest out.

Thanks for readin’.

Comments and shares are always appreciated, and you can do that right here (well, not, like, RIGHT here… down there. See?). You can also join fellow ponderers over on the Just Ponderin’ Facebook page (there’s a bit of extra stuff too – from photos to observations to conversations. C’mon over any time!)