This week I´ve been lucky enough to enjoy a bit of social life, say hello to a bunch of people I hadn´t seen for some time, and even get to meet new people. New people! And in person! So much fun. After over two years of working from home and rarely going out for one reason or another, it felt like such a treat.

I had forgotten that feeling of curiosity I get when I introduce myself to someone I don´t know and start a conversation. Everything is new, so I´m starting from scratch, without expectations, and I let myself get surprised by the other person, as I begin to discover some of the “pieces” of their jigsaw.

white puzzle pieces on blue surface

Because that´s what each of us is, a unique and special jigsaw, made up of a gazillion pieces. Unfortunately, sometimes, once we get to see a couple of a person´s pieces, we tend to assume that we know their entire jigsaw, and without realizing it, we fill in the blanks based on our own experience, bringing in our prejudice, our beliefs, our values… And that´s when we fall into the trap of judging and criticizing.

But the thing is, the other person´s jigsaw is not the same as ours, even if, looking from the outside, they may look a bit alike. Each person experiences the world in a different way, has a different history and life trajectory than the rest, and the pieces from one jigsaw won´t fit in the other.

So, how do we fix this? With an attitude of curiosity, towards others and also towards ourselves. If we don´t assume we already know, we will seek to understand, and we will investigate. And the more we discover, the better we will understand ourselves and each other.

The antidote for criticism is curiosity.

Sir John Whitmore

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