Welcome to Insights and Implications!
This month’s newsletter is about listening – actually not listening. We all can share examples of not being heard and if we’re honest, examples of when we didn’t listen. Nikki Platte describes this all too common phenomenon and gets to the root cause. Read on to learn more.
All of us at Insight Principles
“Well, why didn’t you tell me when I was listening?”
Our team had a good laugh about this quote this week, which comes from our very own Ken Manning, who often (perhaps bravely) says this to his wife after she’s repeated something for the Nth time.
We feel for Kailia, but there’s actually a bit of wisdom in Ken’s words. Hear us out. (Ha! See what we did there?)
Because of the way our minds work, we constantly oscillate from being more or less capable of listening depending on what’s happening with our thinking. Our team joked about how helpful it would be if we all came with indicator lights installed on our foreheads, especially if these lights illuminated our level of mental activity in the moment:
- Red indicators signaling a busy mind full of thinking? Proceed with caution – this human probably can’t listen right now.
- Yellow indicators showing medium levels of thinking? This one might be able to listen a little…but how clearly will they receive the message?
- Green indicators? Relative calm in the grey matter? Go forth! Communication channel is open!
The same thing is happening in the speaker, by the way. Imagine a pair of humans trying to communicate with two sets of red indicator lights. Yikes!
Now envision those same humans having a go from the green space. It’s easy to see how the odds improve for clear transmission and clear reception.
Bottom line: When communicating with others, it’s helpful to remember that we’re all thinkers. We can’t see the mental activity of others (although we can sometimes feel it, which is a topic for another newsletter), but we can start to tune into our own. Sometimes just the awareness of our imaginary indicator light is enough to take us down a notch. Sometimes it isn’t, and we’re stuck where we’re stuck until we’re not stuck anymore.
Luckily, we’re never stuck somewhere forever. Our personal thinking and the thinking of those around us naturally moves up and down from Green to Red to Yellow all the time. This fluctuation is a normal part of the human experience, but simply knowing that we’re always (always!) working with and around people’s thinking while trying to transmit or listen is powerful: it gives us a chance to have our own insights about how to improve our odds for clear communication.
All that said, we still wish Ken’s wife the best of luck.