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Archive for July, 2017

Today, gentle reader, we will conclude our brief exploration of the discrete tap-roots that nurture, support and sustain the Conversation-Communication Cycle.

Your actions will delineate and define you. –Thomas Jefferson

 Act (A):  At this point in the ‘Conversation-Communication Cycle’ we are now charged with ‘Acting.’  Our actions are not the ‘end’ point.  Our actions stimulate intended and, perhaps more crucially, unintended consequences.  Two guiding questions might be of help to us at this point: Do your actions get you what you want?  What do you want?

How often do we take action without thinking about what we want?  Taking action without reflection too often promotes outcomes and consequences that we do not desire, seek, or, more importantly need.  Charles Handy reminds us that Reflection plus Experience is the Learning. His insight is helpful to us IF we consciously seek to ‘learn.’

Our military understands this cycle well and are masters when it comes to implementing the cycle.  For example, prior to a mission a conversation will occur.  The outcome will then be communicated (the nature and goal of the mission will be clearly articulated to those who will carry out the mission).  After the mission, those who participated will meet and reflect upon their experience (this is where the learning occurs).  The outcome of this debriefing will be communicated back ‘up-line’ so that those who ordered the mission can also reflect and learn.

I have had the privilege of working with firefighters and law enforcement officers and many of them have also integrated this (or a similar) cycle.  Their goal is not just to ‘act with integrity’ but to seek to learn as a result of reflecting upon the actions taken (or not taken).

To put this another way: It is dangerous not to act without reflection.  When we short-cut the process and act impulsively or reactively (inappropriate reaction versus appropriate reaction) we are more likely to be motivated by our emotions (which are, by their nature, not rational) rather than by our reason.  Gentle reader, I invite you to stop and take a moment to reflect upon leaders you know (or are exposed to) who are too often emotionally and inappropriately reactive.  What are the unintended consequences of their actions?

On the other hand, reflective reconstruction of the OR-RJA cycle at times reveals that our judgment is rational and logical BUT it is based on ‘facts’ that are not accurate – hence we will obtain consequences that we did not expect/plan for.  It follows, therefore, that the most dangerous/risky part of the Conversation-Communication Cycle is the first step – we take it for granted that what we perceive is ‘real/valid’ enough to act on.  We make attributions and prejudgments rather than seeking to understand (we are seduced by our deep tacit assumptions, our prejudices, and our stereotypes).

The Conversation-Communication Cycle is even more helpful when we are feeling threatened, when we are feeling anxious, and when we are feeling frustrated or angry.  During these times it is crucial for us to slow down, step-back, inquire and reflect in order to defuse our emotions and in order to strive to seek to understand (and then to be understood).  Given this, we are more able to make a ‘good judgment’ and prepare ourselves to act rooted in integrity.

Act as if what you do will make a difference. –William James

 

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Today, gentle reader, we will continue to explore the discrete tap-roots that nurture, support and sustain the Conversation-Communication Cycle.

…it would be interesting to find out what goes on in that moment when someone looks at you and draws all sorts of conclusions – Malcolm Gladwell

Judgments (J): We all make them.  When I am conversing-communicating with another, if I am fully present and if I am paying attention, I am aware of the many judgments that emerge as a response or reaction to what is surfacing within me.  I am also aware of the judgments that are emerging within me as a response-reaction to what the other is offering me. This provides me the opportunity to monitor my emotions and to choose (think: to be more responsive than reactive).

On the other hand, when I am conversing-communicating with another and I am not fully present and I am not aware then I will still emerge judgments.  These judgments will be ‘automatic’ and will be emotionally influenced by my prejudices, stereotypes, assumptions, values, beliefs, and previous judgments about the other or about the ‘topic.’  I am more likely to ‘shoot from the lip’ rather than ‘rationally choose’ a response-reaction.

In a conversation-communication we humans are constantly processing the variety of input that is emerging.  Some input is information/data, some input are feelings, some are perceptions and some are rooted in our prejudices, stereotypes, values, beliefs and deep tacit assumptions.  If I am present, if I am awake and aware, and if I am intentional and purpose-full I have an opportunity to ‘plan’ and ‘choose’ my response-reaction.  I am more able to ‘reason logically.’

Being able to reason logically is essential for ‘good conversation-communication.’  If the input is, for example, misperceived or misinterpreted or distorted by my emotions then my judgment will be flawed.  If I am not present, awake-aware, intentional and purpose-full I am more likely to be influenced – if not directed/controlled – by my biases rather than by my ability to ‘reason.’

It is important for us humans to remember that we are emotional-beings and therefore even under the best of conditions we are capable of limited rationality and hence, it is easy for us to make cognitive errors (think: we distort the input); emotions trump reason.

We do not like to consider that our capacity to reason is limited.  Consider, however, the number of times someone will ‘shoot from the lip’ and then say something like: ‘That’s not who I am!’  Consider the growing number of folks who become controlled by ‘road rage.’  I have also heard some of them announce: ‘That’s not who I am!’  Few folks, I think, would say that their ‘rage’ was rooted in rational thought.  Their emotions directed their judgement and their judgement was, at best, irrational (think: their response was ‘over-the-top’).

How many times a day is a conversation-communication derailed as a consequence of judgments rooted in non-reflective emotion (think: when I am rooted in ‘surety’ I quickly become emotionally defensive when the other person challenges my ‘surety’ or even when the other invites me to consider his/her position/question which I quickly deem is a threat to my ‘surety’)?

The author, Dan Pearce provides us with some excellent counsel.  Our response to his counsel will greatly be determined by our internal judgment.  Dan writes:

“My request today is simple. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Find somebody, anybody, that’s different than you. Somebody that has made you feel ill-will or even hateful. Somebody whose life decisions have made you uncomfortable. Somebody who practices a different religion than you do. Somebody who has been lost to addiction. Somebody with a criminal past. Somebody who dresses “below” you. Somebody with disabilities. Somebody who lives an alternative lifestyle. Somebody without a home.

Somebody that you, until now, would always avoid, always look down on, and always be disgusted by.

Reach your arm out and put it around them.

And then, tell them they’re all right. Tell them they have a friend. Tell them you love them.

If you or I wanna make a change in this world, that’s where we’re gonna be able to do it. That’s where we’ll start.

Every. Single. Time.”

 

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