Lack of Common Sense or Lack of Experience

There are only two ways for you to gain understanding. Either through direct experience. Or by observing another person’s direct experience.

Learning through direct experience happens when you experience something firsthand. You learn not to touch a hot stove because when you touched it when you were 3, it hurt. You learn that treating people poorly makes relationships rocky at a later time in life when you would have benefited from what that person had to offer.

Observing another person’s direct experience can happen in several different ways. You might watch another person touch a hot stove or blow up a relationship and recognize that you never want to experience that pain and regret. You may learn from school or books what other people have already researched and understood.

Common Sense and Experience

What we call common sense is a set of commonly accepted behaviours in a given situation. When a person acts differently than our common sense dictates, we accuse them of not using common sense. Before we berate another person for not using common sense, we must consider whether they have had the experiences that would help them to understand that this was common sense. Maybe what you are observing as a lack of common sense is just that they haven’t experienced the adverse effects of their actions yet (either directly or indirectly.) If the person has no experience with the situation in question, they have no chance to have common sense. It is only when a person has plenty of experience with a location and the proper support and direction that we can understand that they are not following what we consider ‘common sense.’

Our Job

When someone is acting in a way that appears to be without common sense, our job is twofold:

  • It is our job to help them have the indirect experience to understand why it seems that they are not acting within ‘common sense.’
  • It is our job to allow that person to push and test our expectations of common sense. Maybe they see something that we don’t.