It’s a commonly used and sometimes comical quote from Jack Nicolson in the 1992 movie ‘A Few Good Men’, but is it true in any context? Often we talk here about perspective and the ultimate axiom which pertains to reality. In other words, whether it is or it isn’t true, right wrong, black white, simple etc, it is your reality as long as you perceive it to be so. Therefore, perception is reality. This is one reason why programming our subconscious is so valuable, why visualisation can be so fundamental in terms of creating the life we want, and why dreaming can be a true asset when it is set up and used to advantage.
But it can work against us too. For example, I have been told by more than one person and, on more than one occasion, that my commentary about what is happening in my life as part of a two way conversation, is less than truthful. People assert, that with so many changes, so many projects, so many stories, such a broad perspective of observation, such a creative heart, much stimulating work engagement, blogs, newsletters, clients, support work, presentations, song writing, recording, cooking, writing, and looking for love all playing such a instrumental part in this thing I call my life, that to say I have nothing new to talk about at any time must be a lie.
But lie is a strong word isn’t it? I don’t tell lies, don’t see the point, don’t want to, and although my honesty can sometimes hurt, I still believe it is the best approach. But I have to none-the-less, examine any such implication. If someone says I am not an integral person, not an honest person, not a good listener, selfish or self-centred, I am keenly interested to learn more of their viewpoint and explore for myself if there is any truth to their proposals. The ultimate test of course, for any information, being that it will stand up against impeccable and objective scrutiny. If it does not, it is therefore, not true.
So I begin my explorations and certainly, in this first instance, the logic of their statements aimed at my apparent misunderstandings seem valid. If one has a life which many people consider adventurous, I reason, a life full of planned and non planned changes, a life of creative pursuit and achievement, then affirming there is nothing to talk about and share would, logically at least, seem to be a lie. But remember the premise above? The word objectively stands out and that means putting opinions and judgements and emotions aside, if only for a moment. So I delve further and consequently, more information surfaces through the deeper examinations.
I am relatively introverted as a person. This is not unsual and in fact, more than likely for all people identifying with some level of ‘the rebel within’. It is additionally in line with the population majority, and that’s an important consideration in this debate. In particular, while I am not bound by some scale or method, the Briggs/Myer system puts me in less than 5% of that population. And, I must admit, that feels about right. For introverted people, even those who don their game-face and perform boldly in front of hundreds of people each year as I do, there is a deep sensitivity which requires a perceived safety in order to communicate fully and freely. This is not in any way to insinuate that my friends or the people who seek converse from me are not to be trusted, not at all. But it is to say that my perception of what I do and what happens in my life, measured against what I think other people feel is important and, what levels of ME they are willing to safely receive, is what guides my participation. Consider then, this important revelation:
“Introverts get their energy from being alone and [they] are drained by being with other people. This doesn’t mean introverts don’t like being around people or that they are shy, just that the effort of being around them is a drain on their energy”
If an introvereted person, wants to communicate at a high level and in particular with people who are less than introvereted or indeed, more inclined toward extroversion, there are two ways this can be successfully and easily accomplished – if only in the short-term while energy is available. The first way is for us to talk about things which are easy to talk about, hold our passion, are close to our heart, and freely flowing from the true self. Of course we must first feel safe to do so. And secondly, we invite the other person to do most, if not all, of the talking. Listening takes much less energy and can be mutually beneficial.
While most of my good friends must get fed up with hearing about the music, and the writing in particular, they seem content to have me say anything at all. For others, when the conversation goes ‘dry’ and ‘awkward’ I feel for us both and pro-actively probe. Most people (less introvereted than I), are truly happy to talk about themselves and their own lives and, if it is encouraged gently and safely, will do so freely without even knowing they are doing so. There are so many benefits from my point of view as the instigator or listener of such flow that it is truly outstanding to be part of. So that:
I can practice and hone my listening skills for the sake of my friends.
My friends can talk freely about their lives and enjoy the sharing process.
The conversations end with people feeling good for having talked ‘to’ me, perhaps not understanding why they feel so much better but feeling that way none-the-less.
And I don’t have to question things like safety, perception, and how much people really want to know since I will be doing most of the listening, not the talking.
Of course one might question my own benefits here. Even though my intent is sound – heartfelt – what about me? What about my talking and my sharing and my feeling good for having had a conversation with them? There is no doubt that ultimately a great conversation, in fact great communication outright between two people, must be shared so that the benefits we spoke of are also mutually experienced to the extent where each person brings about similar benefits to themselves and each other. This is the cornerstone of all good relationships and without it, no amount of sex, money, work, study, or even play, can affect or offset the fundamental flaw created without successful and uplifting communications.
Covey, S, Habit Four
And there we have it, full circle does it seem? With an end of the writing and left yet, with apparently the same question we had when we started. But then it was never my objective to answer it for you, especially considering I have yet to answer it for myself! (smiley face). But rather, provide some insight into the self-exploratory paths we must all engage in if we are to master our own thoughts and emotions and in particular, something which is probably the biggest challenge of the whole human experience – RELATIONS.
“Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood”
Covey, S, Habit Five
As always great to have you here, great to ‘talk’ with you, and great to leave you with an important question that I too, have to ask when I look in the mirror. I say “Hey you? Are you lying to people when they ask you what’s been happening? Or instead, have you shut down respectfully stating to them only in the silence of your mind:
YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH”
Til next time, pleasant musings
Covey, S, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 1989, Simon & Schuster, USA
Talbot, Betsy, 5 Ways Introvert-Extrovert Couples Can Improve Communication http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/5-ways-introvert-extrovert-couples-can-improve-communication.html, viewed 2014
Meyer Briggs, The Myers & Briggs Foundation, http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/
A FEW GOOD MEN, 1992, Castle Rock Entertainment