Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Great discussion on Linkedin

Have a look here for a great discussion on "The gratuitous insult - How do you respond?"

The author raises a situation where he asks for an explanation and gets the surprising response "“If you don't understand what I mean, then that is probably your problem.”

Enough to take anyone aback.

The question has elicited 90+ responses so far with differing approaches.

Many people say ignore it, or walk away. Some look at reframing or feedback, others would adopt a more directly challenging stance.

More than one respondent suggests a hug.

My response is in the mid nineties... and is set out below

My Conversational Riffs material approaches any dialogue like a blues or jazz guitar solo. Sure, we can stick with the same old easy riffs we all know so well, the tedium of attack, defend and counter attack. That is the Status Quo and it neither interests us, nor serves us very well.

Instead, what we need is a whole repertoire of tiny riffs which we can improvise at any time to take conversations in whole new directions.

So, your colleague makes this comment - probably a defensive comment on his part following a mis-perception that you have just attacked his communication skills - and then counter attacks you in such spectacular fashion.

You can respond as expected above or throw in a new riff. Change direction. Improvise. Create a new dialogue. Try an encouragement, acknowledgment, agreement or invitation riff.. any of these will break the cycle that this conversation looks as though it is about to embark upon. Who knows what meaning and understanding you might create!


Jamie Notter said...

I absolutely agree with the notion of changing direction to open up space for new thinking or change.

But when you riff in a conversation, is there a limit to how different you can be? If you get too different, wouldn't it be inauthentic?

Optimist said...

A very good point. I started replying at 10 o'clock last night and found myself naturally adopting a defensive stance.

That approach certainly felt authentic to me. Should it be honoured therefore?

The problem is that such a response would close the discussion and therefore limit the opportunity you created to explore meaning and understanding. And that would certainly not be authentic to my values, beliefs or aspirations.

So I stopped.

Instead, I have been thinking about what this thing called authenticity means to me. Jamie, I'd like to come back to the issue with a fuller response by way of a separate article. I don't want to sidestep the question, but it merits considerable thought and more time than I have available immediately.

Let me play my own "encouragement" riff and invite you to elaborate on what you mean by authenticity? Are you talking values, sentiment, verbal or non-verbal expression?

If anyone else wants to pitch in, then please do. In the meantime, I'm going to throw this open to the crowd at linkedin to see what their consensus is - not that a general consensus grants authenticity, but it will be interesting to explore the range of understanding.


Alexander Massey said...

Some interesting comments by optimist - thanks.

Your 'defensive stance' sounds like it might have been reverting to a 'habitual' stance. Habit, because it is familiar, can seem as though it is 'natural', and therefore be confused with 'right' or 'authentic'. I believe that fundamentally, our authentic selves look for connection with others and resolution.