In preparation for extraordinary encounters

by Rod Smith

As I venture out into an ordinary day I shall seek the potential for extraordinary human encounters.


The person with me – no matter who he or she is – deserves my full attention. I will listen with my ears, eyes, head, and heart. I will keep in mind that this person has a network of family, friends, and acquaintances, all of whom have shaped (and misshaped) who he or she is.

I understand the mishmash of both positive and negative ongoing forces in this person’s life may influence our interactions. I will remind myself that no one is an island, and when someone tries to be, there are usually strong reasons for it.

Detecting grief or fear I will listen with patience and say little. Detecting a lack of confidence, after listening, I will seek to accurately affirm. Sensing a desire for conflict I will not retaliate, take sides, or fan the flame.

I will remember that rich, poor, young, old, frail, or strong, people want love, acceptance, listening ears, an open heart, and, above all, respect. Therefore I will avoid sarcasm, promoting stereotypes, prejudice, indifference, and tolerance, and replace these harmful tendencies and habits with playful humor, acceptance, empathy, and, above all, respect.

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