It’s something The Dude says a lot. When he says it, it has the tone of blah, blah, blah, whatever, Mom. My usual response is “No, you don’t know.”
I’ve realized, however, that it’s a phrase I say a lot myself. When I say it, the intention is to connect. “Yes, I agree with what you are saying. We have a shared experience, a commonality.” I’ve begun to believe, however, that my “I know” has the opposite effect.
Knowing things has always been my stock in trade. I landed on the “I’m smart” square, and camped out for the long haul. To keep my place, I read and study and explore. I’m only human, however. I cannot read, study and explore everything. The scope of what I do not know is enormous. For a smart woman I’m pretty stupid.
The truth is, no, I don’t know, and not embracing that idea is probably one of the greater sources of my disconnection.
I used to interview people for a living. I’d sit down with them, and get them to talk to me about shampoo, or their car, or what’s hiding in the back of their closet. They told me so much more, however. They told me about their fears, and their secret wishes, and stuff they are both proud and ashamed of. My clients would ask me how I did it. How did I get them to tell me such personal information? Especially since I said so little.
Because I said so little.
People told me things because I was listening. Sure I’d share some details about myself along the way to honor the reciprocity of conversation, but mostly, I offered commentary to show that I was hearing and registering what they’d said. I can tell you for sure, I never would have said “I know.”
Ironically, the best way to be part of the conversation might just be to shut the eff up. You know what I mean?
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph, “Quiet” by elycefeliz © 2010 Creative Commons