Thursday, September 28, 2017

Lean In to Learn

Ok…I’ll admit it. I’m a master at calling the ending of a movie. It’s become a sport, of sorts. Since there is nothing better than a good puzzle, I would approach watching a movie pretty much the same way I approach everything else, with curiosity. Over the years, I’ve successfully called the endings of many movies, much to my satisfaction.
Then I realized that this tendency to anticipate what’s next was causing me to miss the experience of simply watching the movie. It was time to take a closer look at this. Here is what I found…
Declaring “I KNEW IT” feels good! But why? What about jumping to the conclusion of the storyline feels so good? One word comes to mind. Ego. Yes, ego. There is just about nothin’ better than looking over at your movie mate with that suggestive nod to imply…I told you so.
That observation prompted me to take a deeper look at this behavior. Do I do this with other things? Do I jump to conclusions when someone is telling me a story? Am I present while someone is talking or am I waiting my turn to jump to conclude their ending?
Needless to say, I suspect it’s that latter. Sure, my heart is in the right place as I follow along with someone’s story, waiting for that moment where I can say “I get it” and instantly establish that connection. At face value, this seems to be okay, but I can’t help but wonder how many conversations I have had that I wasn’t really present for. Countless, I would guess.
Making a connection with another person is at the root of our human desires. We all want to find our people. What better way than to declare “I know exactly what you mean”. But here’s the trouble, the idea is to be present while somebody is talking. Really lean in. Often times, people are introducing an idea through a story and the point can only be revealed by listening to what they have to say. No jumping to conclusions, no finishing someone’s sentence, but truly lean in to learn. We can only truly learn about other’s ideas when we are fully present through listening.
Many studies have been conducted about the brain’s ability to multitask. Turns out, we can’t. So here is the fundamental problem. Every moment we reel about what the person is about to say, we miss the words they are saying. I believe this is the reason two people can recant two completely stories that shared an identical experience. Each views it through their own filters. These filters cast the lighting on our experience and we all have them. This can be tough to swallow, I know. But ask yourself this, do I want to connect with others on a deeper, more authentic level or am I content having it appear that way? In order to really connect, we must allow others to finish their sentence before assessing it. Once we realize we have been experiencing life through filters, the easier it is to shed them. A deeper connection awaits with others through really hearing them out.
So I offer you this challenge. Next time you’re at a movie and you’re just dying to lean over to your movie mate and say…I’ll tell you the ending, don’t. Recline back, watch the movie and let the screenwriter finish their sentence. You might be surprised what you learn.