Saturday, November 18, 2023

What Did You Say?

It's so easy these days to be on autopilot: whether it is driving on the freeway using our car's cruise control; walking across the street as we read our texts and emails; or half-listening to what a Loved One is saying.  Unfortunately, our magnificent brains go largely unused when we don't engage with what is happening around us... like noticing a smile, tear, or the beauty of a sunset -- or -- when we use our smart devices to remind us of what is important and not think of what we may be missing -- or -- when we don't actively analyze the sensory details we take in every moment.

I wonder if that is why we are having so many problems in our world today:  are we on autopilot too often?

What did you say?
(Photo credit:  Hearing and Understanding are
Two Different Things
, Chatsworth Consulting Group)

Combined with our auto-natures, maybe we have a tendency to believe (incorrectly!) that Assumptions = Facts.  Maybe we need to be reminded that assumptions are merely times when we are filling in the gaps, answering questions without all the information, or jumping to conclusions.  None of these are wrong... but they are not facts!  For instance, when we are on autopilot, maybe we assume we know what really happened.

Think of recent conversations you have had:  when on autopilot...

  • Did you read into... or add meaning... to what was said?
  • How much did you already know... or thought you knew?
  • How many questions did you ask... out of curiosity... to understand more fully what was being said?

How much did you add to what was said?
(Photo credit:  Andy Babitz)

I am fascinated at the origins of some words and how we use them.  For example, people sometimes use conversation and dialogue interchangeably.  Looking at the etymology (the birth and development) of these two words, we see a subtle shift in meaning:

  • Conversation:  Latin origins of the verb "conversari" -- "con" meaning "with" or "together" and "versare" meaning "to turn."  In essence, conversation literally means "turning together."
  • Dialogue:  comes from the Greek words "dia" (through) and "logos" (word or meaning).  Thus, a dialogue is a flow or exchange of meaning.

What percentage do you actually understand?
(Photo credit:  What You Say vs. What They Hear, Annette Segal)

The subtleness of these two words might be in the results of the interaction:  Is the objective to turn together to understand the same conclusion or viewpoint?  Or, is the objective the simplicity of exchanging information?  Underlying both of these modes of communication is the importance of disengaging my auto-tendencies, listening deeply for understanding, and asking questions for clarity and out of curiosity?
For me, dialogue is not about convincing you of my value system.  Rather, can we stay in relationship in order to hear what is being said and to try to understand the thinking behind the words being said.
What are your thoughts?


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

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