One of my favourite Ziglar stories is about a young boy who was confronted by three bullies. Quickly the little guy drew a line on the ground, stepped back several feet, looked the biggest bully in the eye and said, “Now, you just step over that line.”
Confidently, the big bully stepped over the line, preparing to commit mayhem on the little guy. Quickly the little fellow grinned and said; “Now we’re both on the same side.”
Physically, they were both on the same side. But emotionally they were still some little distance apart. The smaller boy improved his chances of getting on the same side emotionally by his touch of wit and wisdom. This is an excellent combination to diffuse most crisis situations and represents a major step in solving whatever problems exist.
There are several lessons we can all learn from this story. First, no matter what the situation: parent/child; employer/employee; or teacher/student, both really are on the same side and the best way for either side to win is for both sides to win.
Second, humour is very helpful in removing communications barriers by revealing our human side and establishing common ground.
Third, sometimes it’s necessary for the big bully (the person in authority) to move to the other side of the table (across the line). This lets associates, children or employees clearly understand that they really are on the same side and open to listening to ideas from both sides of that line.
The fourth message is that it is always important to maintain our perspective by being open and fair-minded as we look at life from the other person’s perspective.
. . . Adapted from Zig Ziglar’s book: Something to Smile About: Encouragement and Inspiration for Life’s Ups and Downs (1997, Thomas Nelson)