May 9

What is the Real Question?

May 9, 2016

Personal Growth

Suzanne called and told me that while she was visiting a friend (we’ll call her Friend A), a second friend (Friend B) called and talked with Friend A on speaker phone. The two friends discussed some personal issues. “I probably should have gone out of the room, or told Friend A to take the phone off speaker, right?”

“Oh, probably,” I said, “but you were in somebody else’s home, and we’re usually slow to tell people how to behave in their home. It’s understandable.”

“But now I have a problem. Should I tell Friend B that I heard the call? Did I break a confidence? Should I tell Friend A to tell Friend B that I was in the room while they talked? What should I say if Friend B ever asks me if I know any of the information I learned during her conversation with Friend A?”

“Seems like a lot of complicated questions, doesn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“It seems complicated because you haven’t asked the right question yet—the real question.”

“Which is?”

“In most situations the most important question to ask before asking all the others is, What is loving? Often that makes the other questions irrelevant, or at least simpler.”

“Explain.”

“If you told Friend B that you were in the room, would she feel loved, or afraid?”

“Probably afraid.”

“So she would not feel loved, right?”

“Probably not. Hard to tell.”

“So why tell her something that would make her feel unloved? That answers your questions about confidentiality. And now this particular event is over, but you’ve learned that next time you might think to leave the room or ask your friend to take the phone off speaker. But asking what is loving tells you what to do this time.”

There is no task or principle that is more important than loving other people. When we remember that, we see more clearly, think more clearly, and make better decisions.

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