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INTERNAL VOICE
Theary Seng's BLOG
Sunday, 21 February 2010 09:03

 

Learning to quiet our "internal voice"



Cambodia is a high-volume society; the volume level of our speaking voice is shriller and louder than most, I would posit.  Oftentimes, in order to be heard, we have to speak against the grain of blaring television, blaring loudspeakers, antagonist parents, feuding neighbors, abusive authority etc.  Daily life is drowned out by cacophanous noises which often make it difficult for us to hear and to be heard, to listen and to be able to "read the patterns of life well".


In order to read the patterns of life well, I am reminded again while here in Manila of St. James' letter to Christians in the 1st century -- "everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" -- in the brilliant facilitation of Caby Verzosa and Eric Henry at the workshop sponsored by the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in the East Asia and Pacific (of which I am an Executive Committee member) here at the ADB headquarters in Manila.


A managing partner of CMPartners LLC, Eric reminded us of our biases and perspectives we bring into any situation by making this indelibly clear in our group's viewing of a video clip and asking us to focus on the number of complete basketball passes the team in white is making as another team in black is weaving among them...we were so attuned to the white team and counting their passes that we missed completely the black gorilla walking across the scene - all 9 seconds of the 29 second film; of the 40 of us in the room, only one person noticed the gorilla !!


The video serves as another wake-up call for us to be cautious of our biases and colored perceptions and to be re-reminded of the need to be open when we encounter any and all situations. We were reminded (or quickly convinced!) how each of us has an "internal voice" which is also actively at work when we encounter another person or group of people. Of course in life, we live within a set of operating assumptions (e.g. that gravity will not fail us). But certain assumptions can blind us, particularly for task-oriented individuals. The whole discussion was framed in the larger context of effective communication and negotiations.


When we go into negotiations, it is important to quiet our "internal voice" in order to be able to hear more effectively what the other person is truly saying. (Meditation is one effective way to quiet the internal voice.) Especially, when there exists differences in positions, it is the more critical to check one's own impulses and position by speaking less and listening more.  Normally, when there exist differences, we tend to do the opposite - by advocating harder and raising the volume.


If we are to follow this line of thought then, a meeting of 2 people is really a conversation involving four voices; a meeting of 4 people involves a conversation of 8 voices - the active voice and the internal voice of each person constantly commenting, evaluating and/or wandering in the background.  I may be nodding and "aha-ing" to what you are saying, but really my mind is having another conversation, a fight with the ex-boyfriend earlier in the day, for example.  All to say, what seems like a simple conversation on the surface is oftentimes more complex based on our ability to be in the moment and to quiet each of our internal voices, so what needs to be negotiated is not convoluted by issues having to do little with the topic under discussion.

 

__________________
Theary C. SENG



 

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