Category Archives: communication

The Beauty of Not Knowing

There seems to be a lot of pressure on knowing  in our culture.  One somehow has to have it all figured out and already 100% knowledgable about everything. This is so perplexing. Why would you want to have nothing left to learn? Wouldn’t it be terribly boring if you had nothing to challenge you, push you, or help you grow?

Sure there are instances where having as much knowledge as possible is best for a given situation. However, the general expectation that a person should know every word in the dictionary, have read every book already, or remember be up on every current detail, seems a bit much.

What is wrong with not knowing? What about the sheer pleasure of learning, exploring, or discovering something new? We love that scientists are curious and interested in creating that which has never conceived of previously, yet when it is the rest of us a negative slant appears.

Imagine  you are having a conversation and someone responds to something you say with, “Oh I haven’t heard about that. ” And then follows with various questions about the topic. Do you really consider someone who is interested in learning dumb, stupid, or foolish? The answer of course is … most likely you would enjoy that the person was eager to hear what you had to say and wanted to understand. Then why would you be so concerned if you did the same thing?

Most of us enjoy sharing information when asked and rarely negatively judge another for asking for more information.  The critical self talk actually strangles our ability to do the very thing we are hoping we are projecting (wanting to already know). How are you ever going to learn it if you claim you already know it all already?

You know what it is like when you can sense that someone is pretending to know what you are talking about when they obviously do not.  You wonder why they are pretending. You wonder why they are so afraid to ask or not know. It is in that moment that the  negative judgement of the person often arises. Again the very thing we often fear, happens only when we pretend to already know it all.

There is so much to be gained by asking questions, not knowing, and allowing others to teach you.  It can be a beautiful thing to share the connection of expanding your knowledge in the presence of another person. Be brave and admit to someone today that you don’t know and feel proud of yourself for doing so!


Conquering Approach Anxiety

Signalling Theory presents us all with a wonderful data set of human interactions. We can look at how we respond, interact, and influence one another in multiple modes of unconscious and conscious communication.

In fact, Paul Watzlawick has a great way of encapsulating this concept:

“One cannot not communicate.”

Basically that even if you are not actually talking, you are still communicating.   We are constantly signaling to one another about who we are, our values, and our ideas.  It is pretty much impossible to not share who you are in the presence of another person.

This all matters in how to help people who are nervous about how to engage with another.  You might want to approach a person across the room that looks attractive, is someone you want to talk to about a specific topic, or even someone you dislike. Whatever the reason you might feel a bit anxious about the situation. You don’t want to seem manufactured in your conversation but you don’t really have anything to work off of due to the situation.

So what do you do?

First you can make a quick read of the person you are looking to talk with:

What are they wearing?

What do you like about their clothing, style?

How are they standing, interacting with others, or looking at?

If you can hear the conversation they are already engaged within … listen for the main topic being discussed, is it something you know about or want to know more about?

You have so much information just waiting to be considered and you haven’t even spoken to the person yet.

Then what do you do you?

You become curious! You move forward with a quizzical context about the person and let that lead you towards them.  Allow the natural human desire to learn more put you in motion and guide you towards learning more!

The information is floating around in your head and you approach the person and you forget everything you were just thinking about.  Total blank!

How do you handle the situation?

The one thing that will always get you through no matter how nervous you are with a new person is to ask the person about themselves. Most people are just itching for a reason to share who they are (just like you do or you wouldn’t be interested in approaching them) and will do so gladly if you just ask questions and follow-up questions to their responses.

The signals you send to the person are that you are interested in them, you want to continue a conversation, you are listening to them, and you are investing in who they are as a person. Most of these things go on with each one of us unconsciously however, if you realize that you a great deal of information right in front of you, that you have curiosity which will propel you along, and your key is to ask questions about them… you will be set to approach anyone.