“…AS AN appointed official, it is my job to look out for all of the people in Shelbyville. To do that, I need to listen and understand their needs and their perspective, especially if I haven’t experienced what they have,” City Manager Josh Ray said.
Ray wants to increase neighborly love in Shel- byville. It is human nature to find common ground and to be the most comfortable with people we can relate to. That means people who come from similar backgrounds, look like us, or have similar beliefs will be the people we gravitate toward.
The world is changing and sometimes, to stay comfortable, we might unconsciously judge others that we can’t relate to. We might look at someone’s place of birth, skin color, religion, weight, or education and determine if we should have a relationship with them based on that limited information; we may not even realize we are doing it.
Stretching our comfort zones and reaching into the community to interact with an open mind takes some effort and discomfort, especially initially. There are a few things that you can do to broaden your understanding of others without feeling like you are compromising your own beliefs:
- Know that by listening to another person’s beliefs you are not agreeing with them, you are merely listening to understand. You are giving them respect.
- Ask open-ended questions and allow the person to fully answer the question (without interruption) helps you to see things from their viewpoint.“Tell me about…”“What do you like about living here and why?”
- Ask follow-up questions to delve deeper into their experience. “What was that like for you?” “How did you respond when that happened?”“What were your options?” “How have you grown from that experience?”
- Understand the complex nature of the human experience. Appreciate the person you used to be in the past and how you have changed over the years to remind yourself we are all works in progress.
- Remind yourself of each person’s right to free will – to make their own choices in their life of how they are going to live and to accept responsibility for the consequences of those choices.
- Work to build bridges, not walls.
The Shelbyville City Council is working on developing a new vision, one that includes all of the people of Shelbyville; the full spectrum of a vibrant community that it takes to create a future of mutual respect and appreciation. During February and March, please contribute your voice in the surveys and community input forums. Consider taking steps to connect better individually with your neighbors you haven’t met or don’t know well.
Let’s talk! -GN