Food For Thought For Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Grandmother's Vase
Found at: Aspiring to Greatness

One day I was lying on the bed, reading, when my mother came into the room. She held out a vase – a rather ugly vase.

She asked, "Would you like to have this vase?"

I replied quickly, "No, I don't want it."

As she turned to walk away, I picked up something that said to me, "Wait a minute, don't shut this off yet." So I asked, "Where did you get it?"

She said, "Oh, I got it when I filled an order."

Filled an order? I thought – no communication here. So I asked, "What do you mean, filled an order?"

"Well," she said, "when I was a little girl, the Smith Company mailed catalogs to people. I would take the catalog around the neighborhood, and I'd get people to order from it. When I filled an order and sent it in, they gave me a prize. One time, I got a porch swing for my family."

"Now you have to understand," said Hensley, "that my mother is 81 years old. She is one of six children in a family that her father deserted when she was quite young. Money was real hard to come by. My grandmother managed to keep the family together through the years, although I don't know how. For my mother to win a luxury like a porch swing was a significant accomplishment. Although she no longer had the swing, she had the vase – a vase full of meaning – which she offered to me. Instantly I said, "Mom, I want the vase." Now it sits in a prominent place in my living room. It symbolizes a precious meaning which my mother and I share: Unless you and I are sensitive to the other person and hear meaning, we may well have a communication problem."

"Seek to be sensitive," said Hensley, "seek to get inside of the other person's frame of reference, seek to understand the meaning out of which that person receives and responds to your message, seek genuine interaction." – The Executive Speaker

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