Distortion, Deletion and Delerium

Communication is an interesting subject, so let's go there today...

The mind is incapable of digesting and storing everything it sees, so there are processes which make it possible to get the gist of any situation while not having our heads explode from information overload.

one of these processes we shall call filtering.

when you enter a situation, lets say your first day at a new job, you take in masses and masses of information, and as we've said, you can't possibly keep all that information in your head, (think back to last thursday and try to remember as many details as you can about the hour of 12:00 till 13:00 and you'll see that you remember much less than an hours worth of information)

so somewhere along the way, one of the things that you do is filter out and store only the information that is important to you.

but herein lies the rub.

How do you define what is important to remember and what isn't, on that first day how do you build up your impression of the Job, who chooses what you will use, and what you will discard.

we all have many filters, and they are running all the time, as you read this, you've already started filtering, you get the gist, but lose the detail.

a good example of a common filter is Positive / Negative.

some people filter there experiences for negatives, ask them about their job and they'll tell you the negative aspects, ask them to describe a rusty car and they'll tell you it's an pile of junk.

others filter for positives, they'll tell you all the best bits of their job, they'll tell you that the car is a classic waiting to be restored.

their situations are identical, yet their filters change their perception and lead them to different conclusions, different versions of the truth, yet they're both right.

let me give you another filter to play with.

get a pen and paper, and answer the following question.

write 9 bullet point sentences comparing how things are going in your job this year compared to how things were last year



ok, so now lets look at what you wrote, we're checking for a specific filter the same / change filter, on the paragraph check how many times you said something was the same as last year, and how many times you noted that something had changed.

if you've more things that changed, that's an indication of a person who filters for change, someone who likes change and a changing environment

and if you've listed lots of things that are the same then that indicates that you filter for sameness, and like knowing where you stand and similarity.

of course this is only a little test and there are many other factors, and it's a scale, so you could be in the middle, and be equally comfortable with change or sameness.

but it gives you a starting point to explore your filters.

the really interesting thing is what happens when two people have opposite filters.

let's take an example

Jane filters for sameness, and John filters for change.

John wants to get Jane to come on a holiday with her and he, being a change person, pitches it like this.

"It'll be really amazing, nothing like our normal holidays, you've never seen anything like it, honestly. There are loads of different things to do, things you've never done before, a great new hotel and a whole new world of adventure"

OK so maybe he's gone a bit over the top :) but the essence is there, he filters for change, so he's telling her things that excite him, the differences. but she won't buy into this, she filters for sameness, he'd have more luck with something like.

"It'll be really amazing, There'll be you and me, as always, and there's plenty of things to do, even some things you've never done before, we're in a lovely hotel like last year, and out the window is a whole world of adventure"

he's telling the same story, but dropping out a few of the change specific bits, and adding some sameness that Jane can relate to.

so if we are aware of others filters we can communicate on their wavelength. someone who filters for negative for example isn't necessarily a negative person, it's just that positive things aren't as obvious to them, they will describe the glass as half empty not because they are negative, but because they honestly see the glass as half empty.