Captain’s Log 4,444
The art of good communication is good listening. If you can sit and force yourself to listen without interrupting, do NOT open your pie hole and make the conversation about YOU! Case in point. If someone is talking to you about their broken leg, don’t wait for the chance to tell them you broke your leg WORSE than they did, etc. People never feel heard if you constantly throw in stories about yourself.
Pie hole. I remember the first time I heard that. I thought it sounded dirty. I still think it does, but I got over the uncomfortable part. Pie hole! Pie hole!
Back to listening…..
There is listening…..and then there is waiting to speak. Two very different dynamics. An unskilled communicator makes everything a pissing contest. For them, listening is simply a way of gathering information so they can throw their own hand grenades. This even happens when people aren’t fighting.
Why am I saying all of this? Because I got a very interesting phone call on Friday afternoon from someone who had insulted me very deeply. When I finally got a chance to sneak in a sentence, I asked for 10 minutes of silence so I could speak. And speak I did. I paced and talked and talked and paced. I released a flood of thoughts and feelings about who I am and what I do. When I finished, there was silence on the other end of the line. I thought he had probably set down the phone to pull weeds or peel carrots or some such thing. Imagine my surprise when a timid little voice came back with, “I had no idea.”
I said, “I know. None of you have any idea because nobody knows who I really am or what I do. None of you know what drives my heart or vision. None of you know about the countless hours we spend doing cultural research and planning for our exhibits. None of you know about the logistics involved in making it all seem effortless. I think because it looks so effortless, you assume we are lazy.”
I continued with more information about the shift in museum approaches over the years – how we are all stepping up to the plate to include visitor ideas and how we take their candid feedback into consideration. The days of “appreciate this because we know best” are over. You don’t just stick things on walls or in cases and call yourself a museum. There needs to be meaning – meaning that is understood and inclusive.
He thanked me for explaining passion. The goal of a museum is passion for learning and sharing experience, it is not about pleasing rich people who give you money. I think he heard me. At least I hope he did.
So we shall see what this latest opening of the pie hole brings forth. Will there be the change in attitude necessary for me to feel connected and engaged? I cannot predict such things. People without passion never understand it when they see it in others. They perceive it as weirdness, immaturity, or even insanity. Anything or anyone “different” is always faced with these prejudices. When fear wins, the visionaries are silenced. It’s been happening since the beginning of time, so I am not holding out much hope here.
But I had my ten minutes of open pie hole on Friday. Was it enough? I have no idea. Do I have hope? Not really. The odds are against me. I’m learning too. It’s all falling into place, and the path is becoming clear. It’s all good.