I am never really done. I begin and edit and adapt all the elements of my life. My choices today lead to an opportunity or challenge that requires a different approach towards a undefined outcome. I scribble ideas that are pertinent in the moment and get stale or inappropriate in a longer view. The drafts allow evolution and revolution to occur. There is no once and for all Statement of Belief or final product. I ship ideas, opinions, content and creative with the understanding and willingness to reframe, rethink, and rework. This allows the shipment to encourage, provoke, challenge, anger, disturb or humour the recipients and hopefully generate engagement.
When it all is an unfinished piece of business I can be curious rather than defensive. You can be inquisitive rather than passive and it opens the door to an as yet unimagined conversation.
I was volunteering with Beakerhead (a Smashup of Arts, Science and Engineering) over the past few days as a curiousity rover. I was able to begin micro conversations with thousands of people and in minutes make a connection that influenced the next interaction. There was silliness, seriousness, satire, and scientific inquiry when I began with questions rather than statements. I learned about aliens, about people, about the hotel industry and some strong convictions about creation and certainty. In draft form, I was able to incorporate what resonated and consider what disrupted my confirmation bias.
It isn’t easy feeling like nothing is ever finished but for me it keeps me motivated and alive.
Make Today Remarkable, by creating a few draft conversations,
Do you hear what I hear? I am scheduling a hearing test because I am missing things that people say. Some might think it is because I am ignoring them or that I only hear what I want to hear but I want confirmation from an audiologist. If there is a medical problem, I will follow the recommendations of cleaning or aids.
When we are listening to the same conversation, I wonder if you are hearing the same thing that I am hearing. Are your biases similar enough to mine that you interpret the words and sentences to confirm or deny the thesis? Are the sum total of your experiences, intimate or global, prejudicing you against an individual or group of people? Do you hear wisdom from those you think to be wise and foolishness from those you judge as fools?Hearing is different than listening. I open my hears and listen but once it makes it past the canal hearing sets in and my brain translates the clicks and dits into meaning. Even when the subject is simple the process of hearing can be difficult. We only understand a small portion of what is happening when oral communication takes place, especially when we are involved.
Interpretation takes on a higher level of sophistication when intonation, subjectivity and sarcasm are tossed in the mix. When I was working in theatre we used an exercise called “The Seven Words” to help actors react to what they were hearing, both as improv and scripted. The seven words we used were “I didn’t say I kissed my wife.”
Try saying the words out loud a few times changing the emphasis on words or pairs of words. I DIDN”T say I kissed my wife. I didn’t say I KISSED my WIFE. I didn’t SAY I kissed My wife. We discovered 37 different possible and distinct meanings without changing the order of the words. Somehow we are attuned to the nuance of intonation from an early age and can easily and usually get the gist of the sentence. (Aside : imagine the same seven words in an email and now the interpretation struggles to convert linear into dynamic through the reader’s lens rather than the writer’s). Is there any wonder that miscommunication occurs when we are rushed, distracted or tense. Our rhythm and sense of pace jumbles the information either as the speaker or hearer and conflict can arise.
If my vocal quality or volume change, intentionally or accidentally, it can impact how you hear what I say and how you react to the same words and same intonation. If I whisper ” I didn’t say I kissed MY wife” or raise my voice and say ” I didn’t say I kissed MY wife” the hearer will include secrecy, resentment, anger … into the decoding of the message.
In face to face conversations, even when we are both alert, content and ready the reality that oral conversation also relies on body and facial language complicates understanding. If I say ” I understand” but my face and posture say “you’re wrong” you are more likely to decipher the contradiction using the non-verbal cues. I think I am agreeing and you feel dissed. If I assume a high status posture with arms crossed towering over you, there is nothing romantic or compassionate that I can utter that will ring true for you.
History adds another dimension. If you and I share a past with intricate backstories and intrigue we develop shorthand verbal skills that only work for us. If a third person is part of the discussion or observing it, they will miss the subtlety and ‘inside’ suggestions. We might ‘get it’ but now the confusion expands to someone else who has different biases, experiences, circumstances, and tendencies. The circle of complexity grows if the additional participants have a contrarian nature or is a people pleaser.
In some ways it is hard to imagine that we ever understand each other even when all the auditory equipment is functioning at it’s best. When any deterioration occurs and the hearer is now parsing every second or third word into a coherent sentence the probability of getting all the other signals cross is almost assured. I can do my best to say what I want heard in as clear and concise a way as possible. I can take personal responsibility for listening and hearing (and asking for clarification) and I can do what I need to do to maintain my auditory system pathway. I will make the call on Monday morning to book an appointment.
Are you meeting your customer’s needs and wants, not with the company’s emergency? A great marketing strategy is geared towards creating lasting connections instead of simply being focused on reaching short term targets.
Don’t simply try to sell what’s in stock today. Ask questions, observe and clarify to understand what customers want today and will want tomorrow and then create the culture needed.
Daniel Pink convinced me that we are selling, To Sell is Human. We are all responding by moving ‘customers’ from one need, one idea, one position to another. In relationships, we are attentive, responsive and adaptive so that the other person’s wants and needs are met today and tomorrow. When we lapse unto self centeredness or selfishness we stop fostering the relationship. If I only ‘sell’ my stuff then the bonds begin to fray.
When influencing someone’s position or discussing our ideas I need to be hearing the other person and understanding what they need from their position and what I can offer to fill the need. If they need security – does my position offer that? If they need stability, what is driving the resistance? If they need recognition, how do I validate and add to their ideas and statements?
There is a simplicity is accepting that selling is human and that when two or more are gathered selling takes place.
Make Today Remarkable, for your customers,
Those who were dancing were thought crazy by those who couldn’t hear the music ~ Nietzsche
Last night, we watched a elderly lady dance her heart out to some 1970’s folk/rock music at an outdoor event. She couldn’t stop smiling as she swayed a stepped to music she heard as a young adult. She danced alone when others were sitting straight backed – prim and proper (me too). Some voyeurs smiled (me too) and some shook their head at this crazy old lady. We could hear the same tunes that she did and her moves were pretty good, but still no one else joined in.
Imagine if she was the only one who heard the songs. If you were the only one. Would she have still danced? I think so. Would you? Maybe. Me? I hope so.
Even though I didn’t take to the pavement a share a dance last night doesn’t mean that I don’t hear different music. It is exhausting being contrary, even when it is with the best intentions. The lessons I learned were to be okay with others dancing when I don’t and to be okay when others see me as odd for being tuned to a different frequency.
In honour of International Listening Day, I will only comment that it isn’t a coincidence that silent and listen have all the same letters.
Make Today Remarkable, by being silent and trying to listen,