The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

On listening

Earlier today, I had a discussion with a colleague. We talked about education and how it is influenced by the structure of the family. Our conversation quickly became painful as it seemed to be impossible to come to a common conclusion or a basic understanding.

Seeing the conversation unfold like this I started to search for the “why”.

The two main elements I could figure out where his “worldview” and his “interpretation” of my contribution to the conversation.

A “worldview” is a set of beliefs and understandings of what is right and how, in this case, family life should happen.

In his case, I noted that in the set of beliefs he included the idea that a “stable environment” allows for “consistent education”. Another belief he expressed was that children should not experience conflicts between parents.

In his case, his set of beliefs are so important to him and seem so relevant, that other ideas couldn’t find a place. As the ideas I was bringing up could have impacted his priorities he rejected them as opposing views. For him, it was probably too painful to revisit his ideas of family as some of the elements I brought up could have shifted his ideas. Allowing a shift of ideas would have meant to change his worldview of the point from which he was seeing it. Such a shift was too painful for him as it would have had to adapt values about discipline and relationship. Having carried these ideas for a long time, it must have felt to him as the risk of shacking up the way he was seeing life.

Beyond his worldview, I could also perceive the way he understood my ideas. It was difficult for him to see the information I shared as information. What he perceived was that the information I shared had to be linked to a goal or an evaluation.

Where I described the idea that we have to deal with the situation, it seemed important to him to integrate an evaluation of the situation as bad or good. Where I shared the idea that everyday decisions impact our future, he understood it as a plan to impact our future towards a “positive” future. The idea that my description wasn’t aimed at creating a positive or negative change wasn’t audible to him. What I understood from his reactions, was that he could not see a difference between being sure that we make the right decision and taking a decision with a positive intent.

Looking back at this conversation I can now see that it was a difficult conversation for me as it felt to me as if his worldview excluded mine.


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