February 2nd, 2008


Mutual Insight - ad homonym

I've noticed that if you are going to be making a comment about what is going on in the moment, (especially when you have a personal investment in the outcome of the course of events that may follow,) it's very tricky to make your motive be understood when your motive is the intention for mutual insight. I find that it works best to prepare the ground to be received in the spirit of what you are about to say before you say it. So linguistically, the first skill is called "re-framing." You must redefine the frame for the audience, because it is quite likely that they will misunderstand you if you assume they are on the same page as you are.

There is also a time of arrival factor that is also important. Once people are locked into repeating a vicious circle, it's very tricky to stop repeating what is the problem. Better to wait for another time when the vicious circle is about to happen, and make your attempt to interrupt the event that you can recognize is ABOUT to happen at that time...because this sort of thing will happen again and again if it really is a problem.

Even then, we're talking about talking using words. Often, you need to do something to interrupt the actions that are being done. This is why violence is such a common alternative once the vicious circle gets going, because violence at least puts the exchange on the level of "doing something else" rather than mere talking. Everyone understands what you mean if you become violent; but not why you became violent, or what you think violence will do to resolve the situation in your favor or if you imagine reacting violently will do something besides hurt the other person, etc. If you intend to do something else besides become violent, say, grow closer and more intimate, it's a lot trickier to find an entry point inside of the vicious circle of events once they have begun. Unless you have a previous relationship with the people involved that allows you to indicate in some sort of inviting action that you are intending intimacy rather than violence with your ad homonym style comment, your overtures of putting aside the possible response of violence to resolve the situation are likely to be rejected AND misinterpreted.

Often saying something will have no effect, because the action that is going on is that people are saying something - content is being ignored. So for the content of what is being said to have an effect, communication works better if you can figure out a creative way to "change the game" of HOW the content is being delivered. This is another form of reframing. Otherwise, whatever you say will just be reacted to as if it's merely a brand of violent defense or retort driven by the interpretation of some sort of paranoid motive - the sort which is left up to the negative imagination of the person on the defensive who doesn't have enough creative ability to imagine any possible positive constructive motives for your actions.

So this is another skill that I have learned to cultivate - the ability to imagine, under duress, multiple creative, reasonable explanation for the other person's actions when it "makes no sense" that they are in conflict, not becoming violent and getting upset. This is quite a challenge because anger and other emotions tend to block creativity.

OK, so below, I've reviewed what I believe are the motives or strategies behind some of the people's responses here, ad homonym:

below, Rajath has made a comment that puts people on the same side, rather a positional defense that the first two have done. This is constructive because then you may unite both people's ability to observe general characteristics without reacting with the need for assuming the defending/attacker role.
In DL's comment, refuting is not what he would want to do - agreement is what he would want to do while he would restate the question; which would be - "how can we both stop doing what we both tend to do?"

Bohm responded with the "generalized labeling" motive, with an attempt to distance himself from the phenomena in order to examine the pattern. This is constructive, because then the pattern of habit could be recognized at an earlier stage when it could be more easily redirected. I found this also requires making a pact with one person to signal the other person when they believe "we are "doing it again." Then an agreement needs to be made to "try something different" at that point rather than doing what the pattern dictates the two people "must" do. The more often people are willing to go together to this unknown state and "try something different" together means sooner or later they are going to stumble on workable solutions. This is the basis of Dialogue. ...It's also how many psychological answers to relationship issues get hatched, but then someone seems to have to write a book,etc. for the insight to reach beyond whatever agreement two people privately come to in their own relationship. Somehow in our culture, people cannot just "share their experience" without setting themselves up to be some sort of authority which parades their "right" for it to be taken seriously. The motive to have things work out for both of them can easily become a contest of who is going to control the outcome of the situation for the benefit who.

That's why I am fascinated with how couples/family groups deal with prioritizing on the fly. How have they determined who's needs gets answered and how long does everyone else have to wait for their needs to be answered - and how does everyone get what they need at some point?

Rajath's way of dealing with the problem at hand here would be to make observations about the nature of it to attempt to understand how and why it is so difficult to deal with. This is also constructive. What needs to follow is to come up with a strategic way to make it easier to work around the built-in paradoxical difficulties.
The rest of you guys began to talk about how people must have run into this problem before, and started reciting the history of what they had to say about it rather than using your own ability to observe in the here and now for yourselves. These are the pastimes of scholars; it redirects the arguing to a sort of "name-dropping" activity contest showing how well read, what great memory and ways of competing about the value of scholarly infomercials.

I find that when you are talking about your own experience, if you imagine nobody else has ever encountered it before, it's always best to refrain from making up terms for what you are talking about. It usually turns out that someone probably has encountered what you are experiencing before and done just that. So the pastimes of scholars are handy because usually someone in the past came up with a good name for the phenomena already and if you use that name, you don't have make up another confusing term that then has to be endlessly defined and bantered about.

But this is what we do when we first encounter the unfamiliar - we try to make it familiar by comparing or matching it to what we already know. Comparing to reveal differences is usually more constructive when confronting then unknown than matching for similarities; matching ignores pesky differences and is a kind of searching for commonalities that are already known. I know that the way you frame the question points to where you look for answers - and also what sort of answers you find. Seeking for differences notes assumptions that are being missed - and it is from what is being missed where insights are hiding.

I guess I'm writing this to you kids because I imagine you all might want to play with me like this.


DL wrote: I have long needed and now need and appreciate these points of Reason and Meaning! I have not known how to refute the accusation: "You do it too."
Irene wrote:
Bohm had called insanity "sticking with a point against evidence that it is incorrect." But can "evidence" be seen when one is blasted with it and when there are imperfections in it, and when delivered by someone that one doesn't particularly like (which seems to be a guaranteed aspect of this process), and when "evidence" is tinged with strong, insulting words? I sure can't! Bet I'm not alone.
After all, we have communication in the conscious level and metacommunication on the unconscious level, and very often these two are in mutual contradiction (Bateson's double bind), and this is the basis of conflict at the least, and probably schizophrenia at the worst.
-- pete says we could:
fortify (?)
pretend -- or -- propriocept
repress gain insight
enslave (?) liberate (?)
something like that? can someone please sort it out?