There is a lot of noise in America, but very little actual communication

Teach the wise, and they will become wiser;
    inform the righteous, and their learning will increase.

An understanding mind gains knowledge;
    the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Proverbs 9:9, 18:15

Typically, I delete comments from people who troll this blog when there is obviously no interest in actual communication. One example is a frequent flyer in this department who writes lies, ignores my offer of coffee and a chat, and lacks the courage to use his name. If there was an honest exchange of ideas we could actually learn from each other.

I’m in the middle of listening to a Hidden Brain podcast titled “How to Open Your Mind,” featuring an interview with psychologist Adam Grant. This is neither a review of his book – Think Again: the power of knowing what you don’t know, or the podcast. Host Shankar Vedantam’s interview was interesting, but for today it’s just a starting point for a more general post about communication.

Grant talks about “The Preacher (protecting and promoting our deeply held beliefs), The Prosecutor (when winning our position is more important than discovering truth), and The Politician (seeking the approval of our constituents).

Fact is, very few people – preachers, prosecutors, politicians included – communicate at all according to my understanding of what is involved.

Communication requires Interactive Listening:

For me, communication necessarily involves interactive listening as its most critical component. An idea must – ideally – be formed, delivered coherently, received, digested, and then paraphrased back to the source, who then can say, “right, you’ve got it!” or, “let me rephrase that so we’re both on the same page.”

Most of what passes for communication today is messaging that is… misunderstood because the delivery is too loud and disrespectful and/or coded in some way, not received because we don’t listen well, only partially digested because we already have our minds made up, and almost never results in dialogue.

Real communication requires clear delivery, active listening, and respectful dialogue.

Derek Maul

So this is what frustrates/confuses/confounds me: Surely people who have ideas they believe in want their ideas to be understood clearly? Surely people who advertise themselves as intelligent, open-minded, reasonable, and free-thinkers understand that all of us have something to learn, and that this amazing country was forged in the furnace of intellectual and ideological compromise?

– Derek Maul communicates from his home in North Carolina

And surely those who present themselves as Christians know the scriptures well enough to realize that we are not called to pledge allegiance to religious dogma so much as invited to follow Jesus?

I’m paraphrasing here, but a writer I came across while preparing my senior thesis in psychology said the following. “The person who prioritizes listening over talking is not only a popular guest at parties, after a while he/she actually knows something.”

Peace and light – always – DEREK

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