More Than That

When Dennis Pitocco offered to elevate my writing, I was asked what couple of words I would like to head the column.

I chose three words that are part of my admonishment to myself when I have behaved in a way that is not from my best self:  You are more than that.

Usually, it makes me want to reach into that “more” and repair.

When somebody else behaves in ways that do not reflect their best selves, I have found that the words also work as a non-confrontational way to let them know that I think higher of them than what they just came up with.

Perhaps they, too, wish to reach for whatever “more” I think they are?

There is much talk about a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset, but it is usually applied to who we think we can become; not so much to what we think others can become.

Yet, we know so many stories about how that one person elevated us or somebody else to break through their own self-limiting beliefs and grow.  Can we be that person to somebody else by telling them they are more than their self-limiting belief?  More than that?

I think we can.  Particularly when we have reflected on what we see they are more of.

It is not judgmental to observe that when they do this or that, they shine.  Perhaps they have a strong ethical compass.  Or are good at talking to strangers.  Or have divergent thoughts that help push the team forward.  Or are kind…

When we notice how seeing their kindness/ ethics/ creativity/ outgoingness impacts us, there is no trait or behavior too small to give back, tied with a bow and accompanied with a smile.  We don’t need to be part of the activity for it to have an impact: watching kindness in action impacts everybody – bystanders included.  And shouldn’t we applaud everybody that raises the ethical level – as annoying as they sometimes are in doing so?

In our rush to categorize everything, people are superfast at knowing if this person is one of us or not.  But we don’t know their whole story and, more often than not, when we do know more, we can find ways to connect in our shared humanity.

Coming to the US from another country, much was so alien to me in the beginning.  It was easy to judge, but I soon learned that, also here, there was more than that – the first impressions and assumptions – and I think I have bridged much of the gap though I am still a work in progress.  With curiosity and openheartedness, we realize that others are more than that label we put on each other initially.

Can it become the standard paradigm – we know that there is more – so it works at keeping us curious and open-minded?

These are only some of the meanings I put into this moniker.   What do those three words mean to you?

Charlotte Wittenkamp
Charlotte Wittenkamp
Charlotte Wittenkamp is an organizational psychologist who counsels international transfers, immigrants, and foreign students in overcoming culture shock. Originating from Denmark, where she worked in organizational development primarily in the finance industry, Charlotte has lived in California since 1998. Her own experiences relocating lead down a path of research into value systems and communication patterns. She shares this knowledge and experience through speaking and writing and on her website Many of these “learning experiences” along with a context to put them in can be found in her book Building Bridges Across Cultural Differences, Why Don’t I Follow Your Norms?. On the side, she leads a multinational and multigenerational communication training group.

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  1. “When somebody else behaves in ways that do not reflect their best selves, I have found that the words also work as a non-confrontational way to let them know that I think higher of them than what they just came up with.” Charlotte Wittenkamp

    This is one of my program mantras we say every week at every training since 2013 …”𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘪𝘳𝘳𝘰𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘪𝘳𝘳𝘰𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘦. 𝘓𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳’𝘴 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴, 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘸𝘴 𝘮𝘺 𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴.”

    We ‘hold the space’ for another to be more successful and “more than that.”

    We could choose the opposite of course, then we would be looking for in others the things we don’t want to grow in ourselves.

    We cannot do more than that … we can influence through purposely looking for what is missing for them, that makes them “more than that!”

    Congratulations on your new column.

  2. Hi Charlotte, my forthcoming post titled” Creative and Probing Question” builds on a post by our friend Dennis Pitocco in which he asked one simple and yet brilliant question. What can you do today that you couldn’t do a year ago?

    Reading your excellent post offers another probing question. I phrase as What is it that you could do more than that?
    So revealing simple simple question it is. I bit many people would rub their hair searching for an answer.
    To be living is to be growing. We can only do this with humility that does not stop us from answering the question