A friend and I were talking about ways of knowing (I am about to read “Tell Me So I Can Hear You” by Eleanor Drago-Severson and Jessica Blum-DeStefano to find out even more) the other day. Sue said she believed I was a self-transformative “knower”, which I took as a huge compliment after learning more about the ways of knowing. Here are the descriptions below:
I suppose the self-transformative knower couldn’t be a more accurate description of me, as I try to use everything that happens to me and around me as an opportunity to learn something from it. In fact, Dave calls me such a learning geek that he has forbidden me from going back to school to get any other sort of degree. Hmmph…. Fine. But that won’t stop me from using every single thing that happens in my life to be my “next degree”.
This past week, I had arrived in Seattle for a two-day workshop (learning, not teaching). Several colleagues were attending, as well, so we had gotten rooms at nearby hotels. The evening I arrived, Ron texted to see if we should car pool to the venue the next morning. The texts went like this:
Ron: Have you arrived at the Hilton?
Me: Yep, working tonight in my room, so I will meet you tomorrow morning.
Ron: We’ll meet for breakfast at 7:30 and head over about 8:00
Ron and I are great friends, so imagine my surprise when I didn’t see him the next morning. At 8:00, I texted, “I don’t see you down here. Did you leave already?”
Ron: We are here.
Me: I don’t see you.
Ron: Where are you?
Me: About to drive to the training.
When I arrived at the training location, Ron and I connected, only to find out we were staying at different Hilton chains. Well, so much for easy communication. After laughing about the miscommunication (and Ron asking if he was going to play a starring role in my blog---yes, Ron, hair and make-up will be with you, shortly), I considered how easy it is to miscommunicate. Nope, not blaming it a bit on smartphones, texting, social media, etc., as no matter what we use, the human is still there, ready to mess it all up. It just struck me as funny how easy it is to misunderstand and misconstrue. Why? I think it is because we are coming to the communication experience with our own set of assumptions.
For that reason and so many more, I view communication not as a one-time deal (i.e. “Let me tell you something so you can understand it the ‘right’ way”) but rather an entry point into the relationship. Or, maybe, the relationship is the entry point into the communication experience. Either way, it’s not a one-and-done.
Case in point: while working this week with incredibly knowledgeable, dedicated and inquiring folks, I re-discovered the power of how we say something. I asked the group to be patient with me and not to be offended if I asked questions about some systemic issues within the school district. I made the point of saying I was not coming in to tell them the “right” way to do things but simply to ask how they felt like their current process was going. After two days of working together, they shared that my inquiries helped them determine some new ways of looking at their own work. I believe we will be working together for a while to come. Why? It’s about the communication, the transformation, and the relationship.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of getting to see some of the Yukon wildlife, up close and personal, at a preserve. My brilliant guide and new friend, Christine, was likely exhausted after 2 ½ hours of walking with me, as each and every animal, plant and scenery change we witnessed was simply fodder for my curious questions: How does the preserve know when the animals are ready for re-release into the wild? How do the first nation folks know how to use the spruce for healing? What time of year do the golf courses open? (oops! Slipped in a question on behalf of Dave) What is the moose population in the Yukon? 70,000, which is twice the population of humans…AND 25, 000 of the 35,000 people live in the Whitehorse area. Wowee!!
Some may call it being nosy, I like to think of it as curiosity and a product of being a self-proclaimed nerdy learner. I like to look at everything that happens to me as an opportunity to learn something new.
Just for today, perhaps you can take a potentially not-so-great situation and see what you can learn from it!!