Monday, March 28, 2011

A Glass of Water

The Conflict Communication class near Seattle Saturday went well. The material is solid, universal, applicable, simple...all that good stuff.

The reason it works is because there is nothing new to it. No tricks, no new information. It is just putting into words how people interact on a daily basis and why, sometimes, that leads to friction or violence or just gets in the way of a job that needs to be done. Once you see it, it is all around you, has always been all around you. It is predictable and has always been predictable, we just were too close to it to see that.

You all might have noticed that I'm wired a little differently. Raised by coyotes, there are a lot of things about human beings I don't 'get.' Don't misunderstand me: I know these things and understand them, but only because I studied and learned. I never had a voice in the back of my head telling me what 'normal' was or freezing me up with bullshit thoughts about what others would think.

On second thought, 'never' is too strong a word. I remember a couple of times...

Anyway, I studied people when I went to college the way a behavioral biologist or field anthropologist studies a population. And in the end, like a really good n on-native speaker, I understand the rules of grammar and syntax better than most natives.

Then I went to jail, and in that compressed-time, high-stakes world I got really good at predicting extreme behavior. And noticed that the patterns were almost the same as less extreme, less violent behavior. Executing a traitor, spanking a child or counseling a co-worker all vary in the consequences, but the pattern of behaviors that have to be observed first, the steps in the rituals, are very, very similar.

That goes for almost all other conflict behaviors:
There are only a few types.
Each type follows the same pattern.

That makes them predictable.

There were a few very solid critiques from people I respect. Some of the changes are easy and some were already in the works.

One of the critiques is surprisingly hard to fix. Exercises and role-play are generally very important to communication training. I feel the need, but... This class is so based on natural reactions that it seems really hard to induce them artificially. In the course of the class I can reliably induce the "unfinished business feeling" not just in the person I demonstrate with but with every other person who observes. I can trigger a defensive monkey reaction with one simple word that we think we use every day, and everyone in the class feels it.

But role-playing? Every interaction that each student had that day, in class, out of class, before or after, revolved around the elements explained in the class. I get the eerie feeling that after a class on water taught to fish, a class where they learn why they sometimes drift when they aren't moving and sometimes they go slow in one direction (against the current) and fast in the other... that the fish want me to bring a glass of this thing called water to look at.

It is important, though, and a good critique. I'm probably just monkey whining. Time to get creative.


Anonymous said...

Would LOVE to see this in video format, even if one couldn't really get as much out of it.

Anonymous said...

Monkey whining? Love that.

David Kafri said...

Raised by coyoties?

Do I smell a story?

Josh Kruschke said...

This goes back to a lot of the topics of your posts, "How do you train something that you really have to experience first hand if then?"

Does knowing that the trainings not real life effect the out come of the drills?


Josh Kruschke said...

I hate when I leave words out of sentences.

"How do you train something that you really have to experience first hand to understand; if even then?"


Sonia Lyris said...

Maybe you're right, that it's like fish and water. The examples you give are even more important when it's something we're breathing all the time. Most of us are expert walkers, but ask us to stand on one foot and spin (like dance) and we might have to think about balance all over again. More examples of scripts that we could noticing ourselves breathing (feeling) would go a long way toward letting us understand how what's all around us and what you're showing us in that glass are the same thing.