“Don’t repeat anything you wouldn’t sign your name to.” – Author Unknown
We all get caught up in gossip. Sometimes it is just too tempting to keep the story going, so we add our voice to the mix – and in so doing, we put our credibility on the line. Today’s clarifier asks us to look at why we become invested in perspectives that are not our own. Answer: because we like to be seen as “joining” – even if we drop out.
Here’s a joke: “An amnesiac walks into a bar. The bartender asks, “What can I get you today?” The amnesiac says, “I don’t know, I have trouble remembering things.” The bartender says, “Like what?….”
The point is that if we rely too heavily on “un-verified” sources we are very likely to forget what’s really most essential to us.
Like all clarification dilemmas, it’s really a question of degree. It’s one thing to “parrot” technical information that’s been learned, it’s another to “parrot” the party line especially when it holds no value – other than to be seen as “joining.” Character comes in many forms. Excessive joining is one variation.
Don’t get me wrong. Being needlessly oppositional (or blocking) is just as bad. What you want to achieve is a genuine meeting. Any exchange between two or more people can be needlessly colored by “party line” agendas. So the more you can cut through all that (can I use ‘BS’ in a blog?), the more you will have a real conversation.
So, to counteract this unconscious tendency, ask yourself (or others in your conversation)
- Where is that comment coming from?
- You’re saying this why?…because you heard it?
- Is this really you talking or someone else?
- OK, so… if that that’s what they think, what do you think?
There is no absolute here. Our genuine opinions are colored by many factors, so it really is hard to determine. And you’re not a tactless clod by asking “probing” questions. Be sensitive. Your intention is to improve communications. And if it is really unclear then ask: “On a scale of 1-10, Is this something I believe? Or something I’ve been asked to believe?” A numerical answer gives you something to work with. It also saves face. Nobody wants to disclose an ill-considered agreement.
The Uroborus image comes to mind here. Our beliefs become ours
once we have digested what is genuinely true
for us. It may take work to get there. But the empowerment we get in return makes it all worthwhile.
Click here to see the Uroborus
* – Joke credit – see “A Man Walks Into a Bar” website – I didn’t write that one.