I’m concerned that, given the current state of affairs in America (pick which one), we’re forgetting how to truly communicate with each other.
As our trust and honesty seem to whither away, we find ourselves either afraid to say what’s on our minds, or are seemingly unable to communicate in ways that highlight our similarities instead of spotlighting our differences.
I’m working on being an impartial observer as I search for the facts and the truth of situations and that process has become increasingly more challenging.
When opinions are stated as facts, it becomes increasingly difficult to have a civil conversation because if you’re not with that side, the implication is that you are against it. We’ve found ourselves in “us and them” situations that polarize us. When we look for connections, the only place we seem to find them is in the camp that loudly proclaims what’s wrong with the other side and we come together to share our common woes and our upsets, which naturally elevates what we say we don’t want.
There must be a better way, don’t you think? But therein may lie the rub. We’re not thinking. We’re simply reacting from our emotions, which is the quickest way to act. The actions we are taking from those emotions, and minus any thought-power, are producing results, but we’re so quick to take a stance against all those wrongs that we aren’t examining whether or not those actions are actually making a difference. Hence, the never-ending cycle in which we find ourselves.
Humans are the only species that fight evolution. This is especially evident in our corporations. While non-human organisms continue to evolve, humans tend to resist anything that will pull them out of their comfort zones. Because we humans have the ability to consciously choose to evolve or not, we seem to end up revolving instead. Change happens every day – every hour – every minute, really – whether we want it to or not, so is it any wonder that if you don’t learn from history you are destined to repeat it?
The good news is that you – individually – can choose to wake up. You have the ability to decide for yourself whether or not this fighting against what you don’t want is actually producing the results you say you want. There are a couple of tools that might be helpful as you take matters into your own hands regarding your own ability to actually communicate and connect.
The first is from U.S. Air Force colonel John Boyd. According to Boyd, decision-making occurs in a recurring cycle of observe-orient-decide-act. Wikipedia explains that an entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent can thereby “get inside” the opponent’s decision cycle and gain the advantage. This process is referred to as the OODA loop. While it is perhaps more obvious why a fighter pilot might need to perfect this process in the height of battle, it’s just as important that you and I use this process to hone our decision-making skills.
It’s crucial that as you use the OODA loop decision-making process, you know your intended outcome. I’m fascinated as I speak and train how few people actually know what it is they want from any particular situation. So a healthy dose of Reality Therapy may help.
This idea starts with getting clear about what it is you want. The four-step method looks like this:
- What do you want?
- What are you doing to get that?
- How is it working?
- What could you do differently?
Because so few people seem to actually know what it is that they want, we seldom get to question 2 in this process. When we do come up with a goal at which to aim, the first question will become increasingly focused. In order to achieve the desired results, it will be necessary to move from mere interest (want) to intention, and eventually to commitment.
When you are just interested in an outcome, you are not necessarily interested in taking action. It’s one thing to want something, it’s another thing to intend it. Intention is doing what you say you will do until something else draws your attention. We might call that the “shiny object syndrome.” Because we have become such a quick-fix society, we haven’t developed the skill of persistence and discipline it will take to achieve or experience the results we say we intend to achieve. Intention is stronger than want or interest, but it’s not commitment.
When you are committed to an outcome, you do what you say you will do – and are also willing to do whatever it takes (without violating the rights of others) – even when the emotion you said it in wears off. The key here is the willingness to take on the action required to achieve or experience the desired outcome.
What conversations are you having in your workplace? What about with your friends and loved ones? Are you talking about what’s wrong or are you noticing what’s right? Have you become resigned and cynical or are you committed to living into possibilities? Is the effort it will take to rise above the negativity and cynicism much of the world is experiencing worth it?
The answer is most definitely “YES” and it will take someone like you to start the conversation. When you stand for what you do want, you can decide whether you are interested or committed. While it may feel like you’re out on an island by yourself standing for something, just know that someone, somewhere had to go first.
You will be amazed and delighted at how many people are just waiting for you to take that stand so they have someone to believe in. While it may seem lonely at first, just know that it only takes a spark to get the fire of belief going.
Please bother doing the right thing and having the “toward” conversations rather than the “away from” ones. Be that firestarter and, while you may get burned, you’ll have a much better opportunity to warm up those around you than if you simply curse the cold.