Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘notes on notes

William’s reply to my comments on https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/notes-on-notes-solving-the-communication-conflict/

“Thank you for your feedback, i find it unnecessary to reply to your post, as it offers no constructive feedback, and highly misleads the purpose of my notes.  at the same time, i see it as an opportunity to clarify some points to the community.  i understand that the reader might be misled by your false assumptions about my person, take them as true, and completely miss the beneficial points behind my notes; and so it becomes worth it to write the following:

1. you have to understand that each person has his priorities, for me, these priorities do not include learning more about the middle eastern conflict, nor about relativism, as you might have mentioned above (this does not make either one less valuable). by commenting on both of these topics, you miss the point of my notes completely. additionally, i never claimed to solve the middle eastern conflict, i only propose a method that would facilitate communication between 2 or more people.

2. Asking pertinent questions that demonstrate our sincere ignorance on a subject matter IS rewarding and honorable. at the same time, it absolutely cannot be done if you are in a heated argument with someone, emotions are hot, and everyone is overreacting. which makes the following claim of yours confusing, and with little meaning: “it’s better to ask questions that demonstrate our ignorance, than to avoid an argument.” instead i would say: “avoid an argument in the first place, then ask questions that demonstrate our ignorance, and help us understand the other part better”

3. i believe you extrapolated prematurely, assuming that i drew the 9 steps from this one conversation with my brother. this was an ‘example’ to make the 9 steps more tangible. if you refer back to the note, you can see that i started with: “for example, my brother…” the information i shared have been acquired from countless courses that i took, over the period of 2 years, specifically on communication, and on understand how to approach the mind in a way that the mind would find favorable. i don’t claim to be an expert, however, i do claim that i am more expert than others. and this means that those others will find benefit from what i share.

4. you also extrapolated prematurely that i failed to learn more about relativism. you yourself wrote that you witnessed the last past of the conversation with my brother. the very first part that you missed was all about me listening to everything my brother has to say. i did not interrupt, and i was not thinking of an answer. i was merely listening to what he understood from relativism, and asked some questions along the way for things that i didn’t completely understand. and although learning more about relativism is not a priority of mine, understanding what the other party is trying to say, is a priority.

5. it is true, i have confidence, and i also believe that you extrapolated prematurely as well, by assuming that my overconfidence will prevent me from fine-tuning and reviewing my technique. so far, i have gone back and edited 4 notes based on constructive feedback and comments from readers of my notes, and their personal experiences and knowledge. my personal approach to sharing is that of a community collectively growing the knowledge. i never claim that what i write is the ultimate truth. these are “notes” not PhD publications. and these notes are available for the public to build on, remove fallacies, add credibility, and expand them. and if you had provided any constructive input to fine-tuning the proposed technique, i would have gladly reviewed it; that’s how the collective & the individual benefit most. and i most welcome you to propose ways that would build on the technique i proposed.

Notes by me:  The first sentence in the reply was not promising for such an extensive and detailed post.  It appears that he listened patiently to the “lucubrations” of his brother and asked a few questions on relativism, a topic he is not interested in.  As for the 9 steps for avoiding arguments in conversation, William spent two years formulating them, although the last paragraph in the “Ramallah’s discussion” implies that it all got clear to him after the session and not that he was engaged in the formulation for a couple of year.  My apology again.  My critics of his disengagement on the Near East conflict still stand and with more insistence and vehemence as he declared that he is not interested in understanding this conflict! I don’t expect William to “solving the Near-Eastern problem”; just demonstrating concerns when it is discussed; like writing a few notes on the topics. I am under impression from the vehemence of his reply that my comments were a shock, sort of a first experience coming in the written form.  Publishing is exciting and very engaging to the mind and emotions.

Solving the communication conflict in the Middle-Eastern, or not. Part 1

The conversation is taking place at Zicco house, Beirut (Dec. 16, 2010. very late into the night).

Note: sections in parentheses are mine

A few had left the premises after a heart-warming dinner for the TEDxRamallah community.  We are sitting in a chaotic circle, we watch a TEDtalk courtesy of TEDxSKE, and a discussion starts. I’m confused; it sounds like it revolves around solving the middle-eastern conflict.

I sit back. I don’t interfere. I’m aware of the energies in the room. I’m aware of the emotions. I’m aware of the uncontrolled reactions. I say nothing.

I observe with a birds-eye’s view; completely disconnected from the conversation, yet completely immersed in the chemistry of the group.

A few try to put the discussion back on track, with little success. There are too much emotions involved.  Suddenly, a realization starts to seep into my awareness.

It’s only when the gathering ends, that this realization is complete: all arguments start before anyone begins talking.

This is what was happening: most of us believe that there can only be one truth around a specific topic.  Thus, whenever anyone in the circle starts talking, the rest expect to hear a truth.

Then, they took this truth and compared it with the truth stored in their archive.  If the expected pronouncement was a match, green light, they nodded; if it was a mis-match, red light, emotions rose, and they reacted uncontrollably: the truth they expected to hear turned out to be a lie, or even a personal insult.

This cycle of arguments was happening so often that there was no communication taking place. There they were, a group of people, all passionate about solving the middle-eastern conflict, yet unable to perform the most basic requirement in solving any type of conflict: they couldn’t communicate.  Why?

Very simply, because every time anyone talked, they expected to hear a ‘truth’. What’s the cure?

People don’t share truths: people share experiences, feelings, emotions, perceptions, thoughts, etc. and we can all agree that two people can have different experiences around the same topic (even if there can only be one truth).

This is what you can do: when someone talks to you, never expect to hear a truth, expect to hear an experience. In his way, what you hear will never clash with your archive of information, because you genuinely believe that both experiences can co-exist. your mind would still be receptive and open, your emotions would still be contained, and communication would still be possible.

This discussion would surely not solve the middle-eastern conflict, but it can definitely help in solving the communication conflict, middle-eastern or not.

Part 2: Solving the communication conflict, middle-eastern or not.

Myfutileblabs said:”[…] What you have said above, is quite difficult to do when you’re faced with people who would NOT reciprocate it. As in…I could see their view as what they FEEL to be true, but they would always believe their truth to be the ONE and ONLY truth. Makes it hard for me to be understanding. […] but I guess that’s pretty selfish of me isn’t it? I should be the understanding party to BE understanding….it shouldn’t be a bargain ‘I’ll be understanding if you are too’ […]”

So what do you do if you understand that people share experiences, not truths, but the other people don’t? They start the argument, they attack, and they refuse to listen? they shut you out.

For example, my brother and I were discussing relativism and that’s such a relative topic by itself, that disagreement is inevitable, except if you approach it this way:

My brother said “relativism is this…”

(Note: The brother was reading the book published by World Youth Alliance WYA, Track a Training for applicants to their training semester in New York.  This document included articles on Relativism written by William Gairdner who lambasted cultures and philosophical views that promoted a relative view of nature and mankind’s morality and ethical conducts; in a sense the WYA wanted to disseminate a particular ideology camouflaged under training sessions for training trainers for their ideology.  Applicants were to write articles based on the suggested pieces in the handbook and sending them to the center by email.  It happened that Cedric sent one of his articles that was counter to the ideological expectation of the WYA and was denied acceptance to the program after initially encouraging him.  I was present during the discussion of William and his younger brother and participated in the final few minutes)

I replied “I think you’re right, because I believe that different people understand realism differently depending on what they know about the subject, which definition they read, from which education and cultural background they come from, etc.  What I read and know about relativism gave me my own understanding of it. I feel relativism could be a label, understood differently by different people. I would usually try not to use labels, as they could lead to misunderstandings.

Instead, I prefer to explain the way I see things; to explain my own experience of things; just to prevent these labels from creating misinterpretations.  I believe that sometimes, a big percentage of the population can explain a label in the same way.  And for that group, they would have reached a common understanding. And i feel each should explain his understanding of the label, so that they can all agree that they understand it similarly, and also share it with those who have experienced it differently.

The way I understand relativism, which I’m sure is different from the way other people understand it, is this…” (I doubt that William has read any philosophical or articles pertaining to relativism in order to sustain an argument in that topic.  It does not matter: the point is how to turn a discussion around with pertinent questions in order to comprehend the other’s view and acquire an understanding of the topic for a friendly communication.)

Note that my brother started with ‘relativism IS…’ which was my cue.  It means (for me) that he believes he’s sharing a truth, not his understanding of the label, and that he’s also expecting to hear a truth in return. I could have very simply said: “no! that’s not relativism…” or “yes, but that’s not what it is…”

This kind of reply would have instantly created a clash in the mind of my brother:  he expects to hear a truth.

By taking the approach of the ‘yes-but’ or ‘no’ options, I would have also supported his unhealthy expectations, and made him believe that he is wrong, that I am right, and that I’m going to lie to him by telling him something that isn’t THE truth.

This instantly stops him from listening; this causes his brain to think of ways to fight back and attack, regardless of what I’m going to say next. even if I say ‘yes, but…’ and I just repeat exactly what his definition, he will answer back with ‘you’re wrong…’ and add something meaningless to his own definition.

So let me dissect my first reply to my brother, and explain why I believe it works:  it has proven to really work in 100% of the times I engaged in such situations so far.

I also have to mention that in most cases, only steps 1 through 5 are required. I’ve included 6 through 9 to cover some extreme cases of truth expectation, or when you have no idea how the other person will react. Use them as you see fit and never change the order.

That’s how I’ve experienced the mind to work, and this is the order that the mind generally responds to.  Here’s the dissection:

  1. ‘i think you’re right…’ this drops his defenses, and he’s ready to listen now, because he expects to hear a truth, and you just approved that what you will say will match his archive of truths; he can relax and listen now. notice I didn’t use the word ‘but’. because as a general rule, the way the word ‘but’ is perceived, is that it automatically deletes or negates everything before it. if I say ‘yes, but’, I just cancelled the yes. meaning that I just told my brother that he lied to me, because he told me the WRONG truth.
    _
  2. ‘[…], because…’ after I told my brother that he’s right, the word ‘because’ creates curiosity. people love to know the ‘why’. they love to understand, and hear someone telling them ‘why’ they are right. this makes them 100% receptive to what you’re going to say next.
    _
  3. ‘I believe that…’ now that my brother is 100% receptive, I switch his expectations from: ‘he’s going to tell me the REAL reason to why I’m right’ to: ‘he’s going to tell me why HE believes I’m right, which might or might not the true’. and since people love to be right, and I’m telling him why I believe he’s right, his mind will find ways to justify what I’m saying, and convince itself that what I’m saying is true.
    _
  4. ‘different people understand things differently…’ here I give him the reason why he’s right. I’ve prepared his mind to convince itself that what I’m going to say is true. and this makes him accept that the way he presented relativism might be different from the way I will present it, AND it will not clash with his presentation, because each of us can understand it differently. this also justifies why he’s right. he’s entitled to his own explanation, and for him to remain ‘right’ he was to also allow me to be ‘right’.
    _
  5. ‘I feel relativism is…’ this goes hand in hand with the expectation I planted in my brother, he expects my interpretation, I gave him something even better: ‘a feeling’. which is something more personal than ‘I think’, and it’s even more justifiable in his head that 2 people can completely feel 2 different things about the same topic.
    _
  6. ‘[…] i would usually try not to use labels, as they could lead to misunderstandings, and instead…’ after setting up the stage to explain my experience of relativism, there’s one last vital thing I did before I actually shared my experience. I gently diffused his belief that a word has only one definition, and i de-associated the word ‘relativism’ from his definition of the word. I also called it a label. people generally agree that the same object can have many labels, and many objects can have one label. now he’s ready to listen to how ‘i’ label relativism, and he’s totally ok and even expecting it to be different from his label.
    _
  7. ‘[…] my own experience of things, just to prevent these labels from creating misinterpretations, I believe that…’ here I’ve explicitly told him that I will share an experience, prepared him for one, and explained the consequences to expecting a truth. now it’s also important to keep reminding him that I’m sharing an experience. you can see the keywords that I used throughout my reply to do just that.
    _
  8. ‘i believe […] a big percentage of the population can explain a label in the same way […] and reach a common understanding; and i feel each should explain his understanding […] so that they can all agree […] and also share it with those who have experienced it differently…’ here, I gave the mind of my brother a justification to this objection that he had: ‘but there are facts, truths, and these have nothing to do with how people perceive them!’ and since he still wants to be right, he will use the explanation that I just fed him to self-diffuse his own objection.
    _
  9. ‘ […] the way I understand relativism, which I’m sure is different from the way other people understand it, is this…’ finally, I share my experience of the subject. without forgetting to remind him first, that I’m still sharing an experience. and that this experience might be different for every person.

Expect to hear an experience and prepare the other to hear an experience every time you engage in a discussion.

Now you can understand the mind; learn the steps, and you’ll be armed with one of the more powerful tools to deal with people who believe their truth is the only truth.

Now you can help solve the communication conflict, middle-eastern or not.

let’s all get together on April 16th, 2011 and really communicate and share. that’s when TEDxRamallah is happening in Ramallah, in Amman, and in Beirut.  (End of quote).

Note 1:  This post was extracted from articles published by my nephew William Choukeir as notes in two parts, related to conversations on solving the communication conflict.  You may read the notes integrally on http://notesby.me.

Since I am writing this post to add my comments and inputs then, I will take the liberty of editing and abridging sections for convenience and for the flow of my thoughts. Paragraphs in parentheses are mine.

Note 2:  You may read my full reply and comments on https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/notes-on-notes-solving-the-communication-conflict/

 


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