February 5, 2016

Infomagical Day 4: Talk it Out

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Today’s Infomagical call to action was to read something in service to your goal (mine is to be more creative) and then have at least a 7 minute conversation about it. A good old-fashioned face-to-face mind-meld.

Something that really spoke to me during the podcast for Day 4 was a point about how we use other forms of communication – texting especially, but also emailing – to try to be perfect communicators. With texting and emailing there’s editing, but with live conversations, there’s the possibility to stumble, stutter, misspeak, be impulsive, or misunderstood.

I had just been thinking about something similar the other day – that when I was in High School (I can’t believe it’s time for me to start making statements that begin with “Back when I was in…), you had to go through the anxiety, embarrassment, awkwardness, and potential euphoria of actually calling people on the phone. The home phone. You also typically had to ask for the person by name (they never answered, it was always the mom!) and identify who you were and why you were calling. Oh, the horror! But it was a universally experienced and accepted kind of horror. Everyone reading this who grew up before cell phones, texting, and regular emailing knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Today, a different kind of social anxiety exists: the fear of appearing human. Nearly everything we consume in our daily lives is edited: this post, texts, decks, scripts, emails, articles, webinars, and even ”reality” (TV). The result is the false appearance that all of the actual humans who are working to create the things we consume are infallible geniuses who have no blemishes (literal or figurative). This state of perceived perfection can have the unfortunate effect of making you feel less-than, incapable, outsmarted, and unqualified. But that’s just not true. It’s a lie we tell ourselves to avoid being seen.

I encourage you to remember that the wizard behind the curtain is still just a human. Just a human in all of the ways that you are. Just a human in their profound beauty, their infinite uniqueness, and their perfect ordinariness. And so am I. And so are you. We are all just human. And while putting ourselves out into the world, and into conversations that are not scripted, prepared, or edited can be incredibly scary, it’s so very worth it.

Here’s a simple conversational secret that has changed my life: you do not have to have all of the answers. You have the beautiful choice to not know everything, and you can wave that white flag by asking questions.

Get to know the person sitting across from you and how their brain works. Here are some of my favorite go-to questions for both personal and work life:

  • What do you know about it?
  • What impact has it had for you?
  • What’s changed?
  • What do you love about it?
  • What have you noticed?
  • What feels most important?
  • Tell me more / Say more about that (not a question, but a great way to get people to open up).

I’ve found that approaching conversations wanting to learn, armed with a few questions, and believing that you are not perfect and neither is the person sitting across from you can be the key to letting go and simply enjoying. Try it. Your brain will thank you, your heart will thank you, your friends and family will thank you. Go lock eyes, move mouths, share ideas, break bread, drink wine, and have perfectly imperfect conversations. Cheers!

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