Friday, August 10, 2012

Identifying Truth in Real Time - Is it Safe?

Identifying Our Experiences in Real Time

Do you identify truth in your conversations in real time? If you are talking with someone and you are disinterested, do you say, "I'm feeling disinterested in this conversation." What would happen if you did say that?

A. If they genuinely care about your interest in what they are saying (because they value your peer review and participation) they will thank you for the feedback and will try to empathize with your position such that they will be able to modify their presentation method to more deeply engage you.

B. If you are being used as a prop, and your interest in the conversation is of no use to them, they will inevitably get offended by your comment, and possibly attack you for speaking your mind.
In the case of B, the person is not acting on their stated values. By their values, people should listen intently to what others have to say, but when you say honestly what you are feeling, they do not respond patiently, but are hostile, since you are not fulfilling their needs. (No mention is made how they are not fulfilling yours.)

Which is more often the case A or B?  
Which response would you give?  In your relationships in your life how many individuals would generally fall into the A or B group?

When person B reacts the way they do, would you respect their response?  Are they respecting you?  


Respect is a very fundamental topic when it comes to identifying our experiences in real time.  When you tell a person an honest experience you are having. especially a negative one, you are showing a huge amount of respect and trust for that person.  You are showing you trust the person to value you and your experience in a given conversation as something that has value, and in doing so you inherently are showing that you care about their experience in the information exchange.

Are you respectful to the other person if you don't identify your experience?  By withholding an essential truth about your understanding of the conversation, you are implicitly stating that you do not trust the person to react in a kind, productive manner to your presentation of your experience.  In this way, you do not respect the other person's ability to think logically, see alternate viewpoints, participate positively with another person, or be able to manage their emotional reactions to external stimuli.

If (as is most often the case) we do not respect the other person as a just, productive, positive conversation partner, why are we participating in the conversation at all?  Every second we choose to remain in conversation with someone whom we do not respect and whom holds no respect for us is a second of our finite life that will never be paid back.

Testing the Waters

Any time we choose to withhold our feelings regarding our experiences with others, from those others, we are choosing to live a life of hollow shadows. We choose to be alone in our thoughts, hiding ourselves (self, defined as the sum total of our experiences  including the now) from attack, looking out through the dirty glass of our self defenses, hoping the others will not see us.  All the while, we lament; we wish the other would see through our walls to our hidden self and like what they see.  We hope that upon seeing ourselves they would find themselves inspired, moved to joy, curiosity, and excitement.

Of course the thoughts above have a perverted twist in them.  We want people to see us and cherish us all the while we do everything we can to withhold ourselves.  To bury ourselves behind an unoffensive wall, never provoking any negative feelings in others, but inevitably never provoking any positive ones either.

I propose an simple tiered experiment you can try today.  In a simple interaction with someone you don't know very well, make a concerted effort to be aware of your experiences of the conversation.  "What am I feeling?  Am I enjoying myself?  Do I feel inspired?"  Then the terrifying twist: tell that person about your experience in real time, right then at the time of the interaction.

For Real?

I do not propose this action as a theoretical proposal, but with personal evidence of success.  Be warned, truth is a giant magnifying glass in relationships.  The use of honesty in your relationships will very quickly amplify them beyond your wildest imagination.  Relationships you have which are based on mutual respect and value will grow and strengthen 10 to 100 times over the course of only weeks and months.  Relationships that are based on values not lived, however, will detonate with the power of thousands of pounds of explosive, never to be recovered.

Hiding the truth of your experience will guarantee a steady stream of oatmeal like conversations from here to the end of your time.  Embracing truth, especially personal truth, poisons the negative interactions in your life, sending certain people running, but it will make room for the most glorious, dynamic, inspiring, flavorful experiences you have yet behold.

Comments are appreciated. 

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