Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Stop the Anecdoche

Anecdoche (pronounced: ANEC-doc) is a conversation where everybody is talking but nobody is listening, which begs the question - if nobody is listening then is it a “conversation” or simultaneous monologues? If all we are doing is tossing back a few and having a word-fest, maybe anecdoche is okay. When the discussion is centered upon a disagreement or conflict of some sort, however, anecdoche will get us to places worse than nowhere.  

You think that adults would have enough life experience to realize that until The Other senses that he has been heard then all of our talking and arguing is a waste of energy and oxygen. But, for example, when you consider our present national political debates, you realize ... Silly me. 

“Come on Wilson. I prove I have listened by answering every question and rebutting every assertion with facts and logic, and he still won’t listen.”

While you may have dealt with his spoken questions and disagreements, my experience is that people often only reveal the outer layer of their conflicts and issues. Sometimes this is because they want to see how you are going to react before going deeper. Sometimes this is because they are only aware of the immediate breakdown but not the underlying issues that led to the breakdown; issues such as past offenses being smuggled into the present conflict, conflicts of belief systems and mindsets, as well as unspoken expectations. To get at these requires active listening, which means asking questions that take us deeper.

Another issue that clogs up our ears is where we pigeon hole the person(s) with whom we are seeking to communicate. Because you are x, you believe and feel y, which makes you a z. Really? As you haven’t asked me a single question and taken the time to hear me out, how would you know? You don’t want to talk with me; you want to talk to your projections.

I am an individual, not a sociological statistic. I am me - not “them.” Sure, generalizations can be a handy short cut in conversations. However, when we fail to test them for accuracy, we run the risk of projecting onto an individual beliefs and attitudes he doesn’t possess. You don’t like it when people do this to you, so don’t do it to them. (See The Golden Rule.)

There is no communication and, therefore, no potential for resolution, for a coming together of minds, or for healing where The Other doesn’t see, hear, and feel that we are listening to him … and visa versa. If we’re not going to go there, not take the time to truly listen to each other, then we need to keep quiet.  If not, if we choose to barge forward and let loose a barrage of words at each other, all we are doing is creating possibilities for further misunderstandings and relational breakdowns.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2017

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