Communication Convergence

I don’t know why or how this happens, but sometimes I’ll be flooded with common stimuli from seemingly disparate sources. For example, a few years ago, I heard Joni Mitchell everywhere I went. I’d turn on the radio and there was Joni Mitchell. I’d go to Target and hear a Joni Mitchell song. I’d watch television and there was a Joni Mitchell song being used for the soundtrack of a show. I took it as a sign to listen to more Joni Mitchell.

Over the last week, the same sort of thing has happened. This time, however, hasn’t involved any singer songwriters. Instead, I’ve been flooded with quotes about communication and listening. Again, these have come from different conversations and from different sources, which I’m taking as some sort of sign for me to work on my communication and listening skills.

I came across the first quote in a discussion post written by Andria, a graduate student in one of my classes. Writing about the importance of communication in teaching, Andria drew on a speech by Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Realize and be humble to know you do not know everything and do not be afraid to say you do not know. The goal in communicating is not to show everybody how smart you are, the goal in communicating is to have people understand what you’re talking about.

– Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking at Cornell University

A few days later, I was recording a podcast episode with my collaborator, Dr. Scott McDonald. We were discussing the role that dialogue plays in our teaching. Scott shared a quote from a book by Oren Jay Sofer that he was reading.

We need to learn how to reperceive our world with fresh eyes, beyond inherited historical and economic structures of competition and separation that can so easily determine our relationships. True dialogue is more than the mere exchange of ideas. It is a transformative process based on trust and mutual respect, in which we come to see another in new and more accurate ways.

– Oren Jay Sofer, Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication

And then, this past weekend, my wife and I went on a road trip to New York state, which gave us a chance to get caught up on some podcasts. We were both taken with the definition of listening that Susan Piver shared.

The best definition for listening I’ve ever heard is from a friend and fellow writer named Catherine MacCoun who said, ‘listening is when you stop thinking your thoughts and start thinking mine.’ So, instead of thinking about I think about what you’re saying, I listen to what you’re saying and trust you and trust myself and give myself to listening. That’s a very underrated skill.

– Susan Piver on the 10% Happier podcast

So, what does it all mean? I don’t know, yet. Or maybe I do, and I’m not sharing. Either way, I’m offering these quotes for you to create your own bricolage and find your own meaning.


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