There used to be a television series called “Lost in Space” which first aired in the mid-1960s. One of the characters was the “B-9, Class M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot” usually known only as “Robot.” The Robot is memorable for two phrases: “Danger, Will Robinson!” and “Does not compute!” It is the second phrase I would like to focus on in this post. “Does not compute!” sounds just like someone who is thoroughly confused, does it not? “What you say doesn’t make any sense!” would describe that state of mind quite well. Have you had that kind of response from any of your clients? Have you experienced that sort of feeling yourself? I certainly have! Have you ever wondered why your clients or even yourself felt confused? Was it because of poor communication? Really?
This is where we need to be much more inclusive. We all like to think that we are inclusive as far as hearing other people out is concerned. Is that true? Does being inclusive mean that we need to expand our frame of reference? After all, we need to expand our own world if we are to include others in it, right? Of course, I do not mean to say that we should simply be inclusive of everyone and anyone, as I wrote earlier in “This Evil Called Inclusiveness.” I do mean to say that we need to accept communication from others with a great degree of discernment.
If we do not understand what is being communicated, there is no need to be confused. We can always accept the communication with an open mind and an open heart, and try to figure out what the other party is really saying. When we don’t do that, but simply choose to be confused, then what has really happened is that we have refused to connect. Engagement, connection, is a choice.
This is where the framework of Appreciative Inquiry comes in handy. I am not in any way “accredited” or “certified” in the framework, but I find that its basic concepts are sound enough, easily understood and applied. In order for all parties to benefit, two-way communication needs to be sent and received in good faith. How often have we chosen to understand a received message in the light of “I wonder what their real motives are” and be on the defensive? Could we try asking “What are their needs” more often instead? Perhaps even ask “How can I meet their needs” even if we don’t see how at the time? Remember – genuine business occurs when the needs of two or more parties are met by some endeavour. Go ahead, discern and meet their needs!
Remember, when we say that we are confused, it is often because we have refused to see things from the other party’s perspective. Turn things, not upside down, but right side up! Choose to be inclusive. Perhaps then we will be induced to produce! For the benefit of many.