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Same World - Different Experience

Conscious Communication: bringing communication up from "auto-pilot" and reactive, to thoughtful, responsive, and above all, intentional.

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Same World - Different Experience
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One of the most important and yet difficult things to understand is just how differently each of us experiences the same world. It seems logical that if we’re standing next to each other witnessing a car crash, that we’ll see the same car crash. So why don’t we?

Our filtering systems are such an integral part of how we process incoming information, that it doesn’t occur to us to question them. We just take in information and sort it how we always sort it.

Unfortunately the combination of this automatic aspect and the lack of questioning sets us up for conflict, confrontation, and confusion. If you’re wearing colored lenses, it affects how you see things; there’s no escaping that. If we forget that we’re wearing these lenses, and go about our business believing that we’re seeing pure truth, we get into trouble, especially with other people - especially when they’re wearing different colored lenses, and seeing a different situation.

Close But No Cigar
There are a number of things that contribute to being misled by our lenses, but it usually starts with the initial appearance of similarity. We start off standing next to each other seeing the same car crash, assume we saw the same thing, and then when our descriptions are only off by a little bit we figure somebody must be more accurate than the other. Somebody is more right, and somebody is a little wrong. Then we do a dance of assertion, compliance, or withdrawal, to establish “the truth.” This is also known as arguing, giving in, pushing a point, going along to get along, throwing one’s hands up and walking away, and many other common strategies.

One thing we rarely do is start off with a premise like, “what if we’re both right? Can our two stories fit together in a way that sheds more light or clarifies things better?” We know that two heads are better than one and that we all have blind spots, and yet our drive to be “right” trumps listening to what we know.

The rationale for that drive to be right varies slightly from person to person, but it’s usually tied to the same three issues that shape our perspectives in general: I feel safer when I’m right. My identity is tied to being right. I just know I’m right.

The Big Three
Imagine what a different world you would experience if everything related back to your identity and how you fit in? How different would that same world look if everything related back to ensuring safety, security, and a solid foundation? What if everything related back to how things should be? These are enormously powerful filtering systems, and they shape our perspectives, our motivations, and our language.

Conflict arises when we confuse our perception of what’s going on with objective reality; that “pure truth.” Again, this is because we don’t necessarily remember that our perception is a result of our perspective, and our perspective is in no way fixed or static. When your perspective changes, you perceive differently, so you know it’s not “the truth” (as in the one-and-only). Unfortunately this loops back to that silly thing about being “right,” so again we don't listen to ourselves.

A Cubed Perspective
The simplest model of different perspectives would be you and I facing each other. You see what’s behind me, and I see what’s behind you. Add more people, in a larger circle, and each has a slightly different view. This is very helpful in showing how we could see something so differently from one another, but it’s only a start. What makes things really interesting is that we’re far more complex than any flat, two-dimensional model could illustrate.

For a more accurate model, we have to include two other axes of variables: states of mind, and stages of consciousness development. A person in the same position in that circle of people will have a different perspective depending upon these other variables. Likewise, different people in different positions could have similar perspectives, based upon their state of mind and stage of development.

Even if you haven't played "Battleship," you've likely had some contact with coordinates being on axes named x, y, and z.  If we call position x, state of mind y, and stage of development z, understanding another person’s perspective becomes as tricky as solving a trinomial equation. This is why we need to not make assumptions, or try to figure it out by standing back and observing. It’s just too complicated, and thinking we understand when we don’t is what causes so much conflict.

We simply have to engage with the other person, and consciously communicate with them, so that they can help us understand where they’re coming from and what they’re experiencing. And we must leave room to allow for their experience to not be “wrong,” so that we can add it to our own, fleshing out and enriching our experience as well.

Why Bother?
Every step of the way, we can improve our experience and interactions in the world by adding that extra bit of consciousness into the mix. Whether we want to understand ourselves better, or understand those around us, we need to dig in to these perspectives. If we want to persuade, build
rapport, motivate, or just alleviate those argumentative conflicts, we need this system; this model of perspectives to help us. This is how our perspectives can co-exist without making any of the others wrong.


Quick Communication Tip

The Sky is Below When You're in Outer Space

An enormous amount of time and energy gets wasted in trying to convince one another that we have the lock on reality and truth, and others are wrong. There will of course be times when the consequences of such arguments are important: whether to amputate or not, whether to sell off stocks or not, whether to eat before swimming or not.

Most of the time, however, the argument has little or no impact on our lives, and is just a difference of opinions. Underneath, the argument is just a mechanism to create separation. If I am right and you are wrong, we are separate. If we are separate, I can soothe my sense of anxiety (not!) This is a misbegotten defensive posture from childhood, and has less and less meaning, as we mature into adulthood. Being right isn't really so much of a problem. Requiring you to be wrong is the problem.

Start with the premise, "what if we're both right, and need to look at it from all sides?" This one little shift can be incredibly powerful and have a major impact. Give it a shot, and see what happens.

Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward?  Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.


Resource Links:

Conscious Communication - the podcast series

KG Stiles: "Conversations that Enlighten and Heal"
Ian Blei on Kind Ambition and the
Integram (TM)

Personal Life Media - "Coaching the Life Coach:"
Communication Excellence (Podcast Snippets)
Communication Excellence (full interview)

Interview Podcast for Evolutionary Radio w/ J. McClain

Kind Ambition -
2nd Edition now available

Got Blog? c
ome visit the Blog.

Character Driven - Ever want to create characters that were so believable, that people forgot they were characters?



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