Clear, Open Communication is Easy–in Theory…

A number of years ago Linda and I attended a workshop on how to facilitate dialogue. The session was led by our colleagues Will Stockton and Marjorie Herdes of Mobius, Inc. ( They do tremendous work, especially facilitating large group and community dialogue sessions, using a “roadmap” they’ve evolved over the years which they call the Mobius Model.

In the course of our workshop they facilitated a dialogue between Linda and me around something that had happened awhile back about which we had different views. It wasn’t a huge issue between us but, experiencing my end of the dialogue with my wife, I stumbled upon what was, for me at the time, a huge insight.

It is infuriatingly easy to stop listening to the other person and, while they are still talking, shift over to making judgment calls about what they are saying. I consider myself as having some degree of expertise in interpersonal communications, so I was doubly infuriated to see myself doing this with my wife. She would be making her point while, in the privacy of my mind, I would begin a silent monologue about how…

  • she had that point wrong
  • her recollection was clearly faulty here
  • there is a good reason why I said what I did (in the situation under discussion)
  • I will respond just as soon as she stops talking

Clear, open communication is easy–in theory. But, in fact, we fool ourselves that we are being attentive to and taking in what the other person is saying. It’s not true. We rarely focus for more than a few precious seconds–barely long enough for them to express a complete thought–before we begin crafting an “editorial” about it in our mind.

Don’t believe me? Start observing your internal dialogue in your next few interactions, Yeah, do it with the next person that walks in the door. Maybe you will be infuriated too.