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Monday, September 7, 2009

Am I Getting You Now

The Encounter Workshop, Formation Through Relationships was very important to me. I came to appreciate the difference between two words I use (and live by) constantly:
Understanding, Experiencing.
I am good at thinking... defining terms, putting together a logical piece of writing. And I did not realize that, for years, I believed that if I presented my concerns logically, many people would find my work persuasive. Their understanding would grow; and they would choose to act in ways that I would find supportive and helpful. If people understood my concerns, they would help me to address those concerns.
Most of the time I thought that people understood what I was saying. Rarely did people address my concerns. I became frustrated, angry, depressed, and ended up walking away from them.
I think, now, that if I had approached my concerns in a far different way, namely invited people to come and share some of my experiences, we would have been able to work together on concerns that were no longer mine, but our concerns, and I would have been a happier and healthier human being.
At the workshop, a couple at my table had a chance to demonstrate how words move us very little. Mrs who participated in the exercise is standing; Mr. is sitting (he is the first person in the picture from the left)

Their task-- to sit back to back, and put together a paper puzzle. Mrs. got a page with the puzzle completed and the puzzle pieces highlighted in such a way that she could see their shape and where they had to be placed. Mr. had the pieces.
The rest of us had to watch and keep our lips sealed.
They worked really hard but they were no way near completing the puzzle when time ran out.My point... without eye contact so that one could see the other's body language, one's chance of accurately experiencing what the other person was experiencing and accurately gauging what they were saying was very, very poor.

Words are powerful...but vocal tone and body language are key to appreciating the person's speaking concerns.
Understanding without experience does not help people to tune into each other. I am so glad that I am coming to terms with that...

Communicating takes a lot of loving and a lot of work doesn't it


Lorraine Hart said...

This is a great conversation to have Joseph. Not only is there the body language...but also energy, to read. I believe this is how we have a lot of missed communication in these times of instant information...with no emotional ( motion) reading. The puzzle that is often our discussions need all the tools.

I'm reading a fascinating book at the moment..."My Stroke of Insight" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor Ph.D. She is a brain scientist who had a stroke...and learned more about the left and right brain connection to, not only bring herself back, but to work more inside her right brain for understanding and self-fulfillment.

JosephMcG said...

Thanks for the name of the book... I passed a fascinating evening sharing with a couple last week...
instead of quickly settling into the "I get what you are saying," I kept listening (all of this happened by phone) and kept bringing up examples until the person sharing was able to say, "yes, I think you have got it now." I am finding I watching people a little closer and enjoying asking them questions.
I also enjoy asking myself questions about my own feelings...

Isn't it just beyond belief... this being alive...

Lorraine Hart said...

Asking more questions and listening, this gets us to a deeper level of understanding...and takes time. We will often be busy planning what to say next, instead of really listening. This seems to be what has gone wrong with the national conversation we're supposed to be having. There's a chance here to really 'get' one another...and for each of us to share our feelings of worth, walking forward together.

Yes, this being alive is beyond belief...a chance to learn more about each other and love. A chance to respect our individuality and yet come together in a greater union.