The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Surprising conversations

Whenever someone makes a presentation, the speaker will search for ways to gain the audience’s attention. There will be many ways, but one could call three of them as being part of human nature. These are loud noise, bright light, and surprise.

The reason people react to surprise is that it comprises the many ways highlighting that something isn’t as expected. It can be a gesture that is perceived as inconsistent with the words being used, it can be a sudden change, it can be unexpected repetition, etc.

And thus, surprises also appear in conversations. When something has not been understood, a sudden twist appears in the conversation, or a feeling of an incoherent conversation.

Depending on one’s preferences people will tend to let these events go, become frustrated when being misunderstood, or become curious about them. What they’ll also learn is that these gaps can pass by unnoticed.

For perfectionists this is an issue, they will seek ways to prevent such surprises. It’s because surprises are easily classified as “dangers,” otherwise they wouldn’t catch an individual’s attention. Which, in fact, is the reptilian brain’s attention. Naturally, there are also surprises people appreciate. That is because they will please the reptilian brain and signal safety.

The idea of preventing such surprises fits human nature’s need for structure and thus planning as well as safety. It also fits the idea that preventing surprises contributes to efficiency. While this is technically true, it is not compatible with the problem. One can be intentional about creating a surprise, but then it is done for a specific reason. And if one isn’t intentional about it, it is a surprise for all those involved even though it might have known subconsciously.

Thus, the only way to reduce such surprises is to develop a sense that one may not be understanding one another quite well. It assumes an ongoing exploration seeking to learn what the other understood from one’s message. It doesn’t build on the belief that one will be understood. On the contrary, it rests in the belief that not being understood is normal.



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