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Two Books that are Kind of About Empathy

Today I'm going to talk about two weaknesses I have and two excellent books which address them. One book was recommended by my friend Brian Sharp during an awesome presentation he did at the Game Developers Conference (video coming soon, Brian?). It's called Difficult Conversations. The second is called the Time Paradox, which I got off my friend Derek's reading list (Derek provides notes for every book, which gives you a good idea of whether you'll like it or not).

Self Expression

Unless I've dated you in the past, you might be surprised to hear that I'm not very good at expressing myself. The irony, of course, is that blogs are about self expression, and the authors that make themselves most vulnerable often have the most success. But if you look at my past articles, I very rarely talk about my feelings. I'm transparent about who I am, what I do, what I've done, where I go, what I think, etc., but how I feel is notably absent.

Learning to Speak and Listen in Actions, not Words.

On DROdio

We humans are a strange bunch.  Being equipped with the miracle of verbal and written communication, we get a 'pass' on something the rest of the animal kingdom relies on for survival: Speaking and listening in actions, not words.

It's taken me a long time to realize how poorly my action-related communication syncs to my verbal communication.  I grew up believing it was OK to say one thing, but to do another.  Many of us do.  It's easy to fabricate worlds where we say one thing but do something completely contrary, and as a society few people call us out on the disparity.  I'm not sure why this is.  The best reason I've come up with is that few of us are tuned into "listening to actions, not words" enough to notice it.

As I've slowly become aware of the disparity, the main reason I've often failed to achieve parity between my spoken commitments and my actions is that it's a really, really hard skill to master.  It takes meaningful, consistent effort to 'say as you do, and do as you say'.  Life is full of small opportunities to massage the effect of one's actions with a stream of words that cover up the true meaning of the underlying actions.  Our spoken (and written -- but mainly spoken, since it's more extemporaneous) communication acts as a type of elbow grease that makes interactions between humans run more smoothly -- or so we think.

Examples are plentiful and commonplace:  

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