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Diamonds or Rocks?
Learning to see the Value of Other People's Character Qualities
Many years ago, a slave in India came
into possession of a stone he thought could fetch him a fair price.
It was an intriguing steel blue stone, which at first glance looked
to be a very large sapphire. He looked for a naïve outsider who
he could swindle into paying far too much for the beautiful stone.
A French traveler happened to pass by. He approached him with the intention
of swindling the man out of his money.
However, the French traveler
soon discovered the slave was asking too low of price for his sapphire.
You see, the stone was not a sapphire at all. The French traveler
quickly purchased the stone. That very stone later became known as
the Hope Diamond. It is the most treasured diamond in the entire world!
Could you imagine having a diamond of such value in your hand and
not know its value? Imagine how you would feel upon learning that
you sold the stone for a tiny fraction of its true value.
the truth is many of us have done this. We have done this repeatedly
in our relationships. It may have been with those who have been
the closest to us! We mistakenly identified the other person
as though they were only sapphire, when in fact, they were actually
a diamond. We merely did not have the proper tools to identify
them as the diamond they really were.
In the last chapter, we discussed identifying
character strengths as a method to help solve conflicts. We are going
to look more at that as we go; however, we are first going to take
a look at something that does not help to solve conflicts at all.
It is a very common problem. We will refer to this as the identifying
opposites method. The opposite of a strength is a weakness.
This method occurs when we learn that a quality in someone else is missing.
We know it is missing, because we have seen exactly the opposite of what is
missing. For instance, instead of finding courage, we find cowardice. Instead
of finding decisiveness, we find indecisiveness. Instead of finding honesty,
we find dishonesty. Okay, you get the picture!
In effect, this method is like saying, "I know you are one way, but I would
like you to be the opposite of that!" Imagine how you would feel if somebody
came up to you and said, "You know ...I see that you have blonde hair! I hate
blonde hair! If you would die your hair black, then I would be your friend." That
would not be a good way to make friends, would it?
However, in terms of how we speak to each other about character, that is what
we tend to do. For example, we may see cowardice in someone we know. Then,
it would seem logical to go up to the person to say, "I would like to see you
become more courageous!" It sounds good on paper. It seems to make sense. Yet
in real life, it nearly always comes across offensively the person. It is like
asking them to be the total opposite of what they truly are.
Now, think about it. Imagine this! Someone says this to you, "If you become
completely opposite of what you are, then I will be your friend and like you." How
would you respond to them? Of course, not very well. Simply put, the "identifying
opposites" method does not work well at all. It nearly always causes conflict
to occur. It nearly always comes across to the other person as "fault-finding".
It nearly always results in either hurt feelings or arguments about who is
right and who is wrong.
So then, is there another, better method?
The answer is a resounding,
"Yes, there is!"
The method is the one that we talked about in chapter
one. It is the method of identifying character strengths ...not character
weaknesses. However, character strengths come in two varieties. There
are both genuine and counterfeit character strengths.
The only thing you need to know for now is that counterfeit character
strengths are not opposite of the genuine. A counterfeit can only be
a counterfeit if there is a genuine to model it after.
Using a counterfeit character strength always results
harm, injury, or insult
to another and/or to ones' own self.
Try to recall something that you know that you
did wrong recently. It may be difficult, but try it! Now try to remember
what it was that you were thinking and feeling as you began to speak
or act a certain way. There is a very good chance that at least for
the moment you thought you were "in the right"...and not "in the wrong".
There is a moment in time where we, at least briefly, feel like we
are "in the right". It is because we instinctively believe that we
are using a genuine trait of some kind.
Perhaps we had a momentary
lapse of good judgment, and we failed to see that we were using a
counterfeit trait. In the middle of a lapse in good judgment, using
a counterfeit trait often will feel just like the use of a genuine
For most of us, it is not until we have calmed
down a bit that we begin to realize we spoke or acted poorly. Often,
we have no clue why we did what we did or said what we said. We only
know we did something that was wrong. Sometimes we are sorry; sometimes
we are too proud to admit it. However, we rarely know which of the
genuine qualities we misused as a counterfeit. It is impossible to
improve what we do not know is in need of improvement. Is it not? If you don't know what part of your car engine needs repair, you cannot fix it. So it is the same with your own Character.
If everyone had a perfect character, there would be no conflicts.
Love and respect for others are at the heart of all genuine character
traits. It is hard to imagine a world that would be free of conflict.
In our world, conflicts occur every day.
In all the many ways that
we relate to other people, our first choice is for there to be no
conflict. Some choose to handle their conflicts by avoiding the issues
completely. Yet their silence can make the conflict worse for the
other person. The conflict then remains unsolved.
Others handle their
conflicts in the other extreme. Their conflicts may then grow into
explosive conflicts. You may fall between these two extremes. Yet,
it is certain that you are doing something that adds to the conflicts
that you face.
At Solving Conflicts, the primary
goal is to help you identify your dominant character strengths.
In this process, you will learn what your genuine
and counterfeit strengths are. You may be shocked to learn you have
genuine character strengths you never knew you had. The more you know
about your own self, the better prepared you will be to make better
choices. You may be surprised to find out your true character potential.
At Solving Conflicts, the secondary
goal is to help you identify the dominant character strengths
In this process, you will learn what others' genuine
and counterfeit strengths are. You may also be shocked to learn someone
has genuine character strengths you never knew he/she had. The
more you learn about others, the better prepared you will be to help
them make better choices. You may also be surprised to find out the
true character potential of others that you never knew before.
Uncover the true diamond sparkle in yourself
and in others!
- Avoid conflict through wise interaction with
- Solve conflict through wise interaction with
- Then learn about yourself from the conflict
so that you do not repeat it.
- Also, learn about the person with whom you
had the conflict so you can interact better with them next time.
Truly, some people have lived through bad situations.
People in their lives have given them poor messages about their self-worth.
Whether that accounts for your life experience or not, it is like a
breath of fresh air to discover character strengths you never knew
you had. It can be like discovering a new roadmap for your life.
Conflicts not only tells where you have been, where
you are right now, but also helps you get where you want to go in
At times, we give poor messages to those around us, to those who
are closest to us, and even to ourselves. It may be for reasons we
do not even understand. However, it is possible to grow past that
one good choice at time.
Solving Conflicts will
help you to discover the true diamond sparkle in your character and in
the character of others. This is a worthy goal for everyone in every
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