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Lessons From Jury Duty

Support for Families




I recently received a summons for jury duty. When it arrived, I rolled my eyes, whined about the inconvenience and spent the next several weeks trying to figure out how to not get picked to serve. When the day came to report, my bad attitude came with me...

“I can’t miss work” “The timing is terrible” “This is such an inconvenience!”

At the courthouse, I glanced up at the white board that listed the judges names. 9 judges listed. This was not going to be a quick dismissal day. Sure enough, my number was called for a case, and I was given a supplemental questionnaire to fill out. The charges were highly emotional and sensitive. Our ability to remain impartial was being questioned. Over 60 jurors were brought into the courtroom to start. Several potential jurors immediately spoke up;

  • They were morally adverse to the charges.

  • They could not be impartial due to their own personal circumstances.

  • They did not feel comfortable putting themselves in the position to hear the details of the case because it would be too hard.

The circumstances and charges WERE really difficult. Vulnerable people were hurt and someone was to blame. I observed that many, many people were unable and honestly unwilling to put themselves in a position to separate the emotions of the case in order to hear the facts and remain impartial.

Impartiality means putting aside preconceptions and personal beliefs or experiences in order to hear evidence and see the facts presented rather than the story imagined. The case ended up being continued to another date and honestly, I was relieved. My schedule was busy and I could continue on with my week.

The judge used this opportunity to address us. She understood the sacrifice that we were being asked to make with our time, and explained that the number of potential jurors called into the courtroom was due to the sensitive nature of the charges. That many people were needed in order to find an impartial group. She talked about the importance of being able to validate our moral and personal disagreements with the actions AND still being able to hear factual evidence separate from our own imagined stories about what may or may not have happened.






Her courtroom speech was what I refer to as UNDERSTANDING with our loved ones. Being able to hear someone else's experience as true to them and understanding that their behaviors makes sense TO THEM. Impartiality allows us to let go of the story WE carry as true.

Just like remaining impartial on a difficult jury does not mean agreeing with the charged actions, approaching our relationships with understanding does not mean agreeing with their behaviors.

If you let go of the story you carry about someone in your relationship and truly listen to their real experience with the intention of understanding their truth, it can lead to significant changes in your relationship. Here are some possibilities:

  • Increased empathy: By actively listening and seeking to understand their perspective, you can develop a deeper sense of empathy. Understanding their truth can help you see things from their point of view and recognize the emotions, challenges, and motivations behind their actions.

  • Improved communication: When you let go of your story and assumptions about the other person, it creates a safe space for communication. By listening to their experiences and feelings, you can have more meaningful and honest conversations.

  • Strengthened trust: When someone feels heard and understood, it can build trust in the relationship. By demonstrating your willingness to listen and understand without judgment, you create an environment where the other person feels safe to express themselves authentically. This can contribute to a stronger foundation of trust and openness.

  • Resolving conflicts: Letting go of your story and seeking understanding can be particularly valuable during conflicts or disagreements. It allows you to approach the situation with a fresh perspective and a genuine desire to find common ground. By understanding the other person's truth and acknowledging their feelings, you can work together to find mutually beneficial solutions and resolve conflicts more effectively.

  • Personal growth: By practicing impartiality and seeking understanding in your relationships, you also have the opportunity for personal growth. Letting go of your own biases and stories requires self-reflection and a willingness to challenge your assumptions. It can lead to increased self- awareness, empathy, and a broader perspective on the complexities of human experiences.

Understanding someone's truth DOES NOT mean you have to agree with their behaviors or condone harmful actions. It simply means you are willing to listen and acknowledge their perspective, creating space for influence, compassion and growth within the relationship.

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