As with other guest blogs I have hosted, I will tell a little more of my story. I grew up in South Africa and did all my formal education there. South Africans have a reputation for being straight talkers - and I have to admit I am no exception. We are basically taught to say what we think and not to pull any punches. That way you know where you stand and where I am coming from. When I moved to England in the late 1980s, I discovered a very different world. Straight talking was not viewed as a strength and I soon found that there was very little direct talk. There was always a sub text floating around which I was not very clued into - and not very good at grasping so I could act on it. I could have done with Overcoming Fake Talk right then.
In the book John outlines the elements of REAL Conversations as follows:
- Recognising and suspending your thinking and judgment
- Expressing yourself without creating resistance in others
- Asking questions to increase your understanding
- Listening and attending to the signals others are sending
Now for John's blog post - it is all about one of the big challenges in communication
DEALING WITH A CLOSED MIND
Years ago, while teaching a critical thinking class, I had an interesting experience with an individual who was determined to prove to me that he was “right” about something. The interaction occurred because I said, “Even though we all have an interest in ‘being right,’ there are many ways of looking at reality. We really don’t know as much as we’d like to think we know.”
My statement caused a stir among the participants. About half an hour later Jay raised his hand and said, “I know everything about something!”
“You do?” I answered.
“Yeah,” Jay nodded. “I know everything about writing my name.”
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” Jay said.
“Do you know how to write your name in Greek?”
Jay thought for a minute and admitted, “No, I don’t.”
“Well, call me when you can.” I replied.
Another half hour went by and Jay raised his hand again. “I’ve got it!” He said.
I asked, “Are you sure?”
With confidence, Jay replied, “Yes. I know everything about writing my name in English.”
“How many times did you write your name in English last year?”
With a frown, Jay responded, “I don’t know.”
“Well, call me when you know,” I said.
Yet another half hour went by. Being very determined, Jay raised his hand and offered, “I know everything about writing my name in English once.”
“Are you sure?”
“Do you know how much ink you use when you write your name in English once?
Feeling a little deflated, Jay said, “I don’t know.”
Notice that in order to be “right,” Jay literally narrowed the scope of what he said he knew, so he could claim to “know everything about something.” Being right is a wonderful place to be, even if you’re only right in your own mind! The challenge for all of us is to recognize that everyone has something to offer because their thinking, their life experience, and their view of the world is quite simply not our own.
John holds a Master's Degree in Organizational Behavior as well as a J.D. Degree. His landmark book, Overcoming Fake Talk, is both entertaining and engaging, and it presents skills that help readers talk about what matters most.
In the past, John worked as a practicing criminal defense attorney, spent summers as a Grand Canyon white-water guide, and taught on the university level for 13 years. John has been happily married since 1994 and he and his wife Stephanie are the proud parents of five children