It’s easy to misunderstand one another. It’s just as easy to miss that there was a misunderstanding. People have different backgrounds, different histories and thus different ways to see the world. It’s like having a unique filter to see the world and figure out what that view on the world means.
It’s a filter based on how we like to perceive the world, may it be through our senses, our activities or our thoughts.
Our preferred perception comes along with biases, judgments and for example the sayings we learned. In this, sayings often are how truths are passed from one person to the other. It’s a short story, one we easily remember. The richness of the idea of “clean hands” for example goes way beyond a story like “Handwashing and caring goes together.”
People will take for granted that the way they see the world is the one others will use too.
I’ve been reminded of this multiple times these days.
Asking a colleague “what is your take away from today” she started to describe how grateful she had been for the experience. As I asked another question shifting the first one a bit, she moved to another description. I was still struggling to hear an answer to my question. Digging on, I asked the third question. Her reaction showed a sense of feeling examined.
We were not finding one another. Repeating and orienting my questions didn’t help.
Pushing people towards something doesn’t help. It leads to struggle.
A way to solve the dilemma is to add context to the question by sharing what you are interested in or what your question is about.
A generous way to continue asking questions is to simply ask “and what else?”
It’s a simple shift to show your interest in all the answers the person is willing to share and one that helps the person see that she has more than one answer.