Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Pause Button

I spent a major part of one day last week in a meeting where there was a good bit of blame tossing going on. In reality the problems that surrounded the design and construction of the building under discussion had many sources. The architects wanted to blame the contractors. The contractors claimed it was an architect driven problem. When that didn’t work out they turned on the owner and on and on it went. I was a neutral third party and could see the blame ball being batted back and forth even though the subject under discussion had resulted from the complexity of the issue and everyone in the room needed to be involved in the solution instead of arguing irresolvable questions of fault.

Some words were heated. Many of the words were poorly chosen and completely unproductive.

I have read in Taoist writings that in ancient times people so revered words on paper that they tried never to throw the paper away. When they could no longer write on a piece of paper, they would very carefully gather it up and burned it reverently, so that the words in the paper would be recycled into the great process of life. That was the great respect that the ancient Taoist had for words.

Before the ancient sages spoke they paused to carefully consider what they were about to say. During speaking they often paused again for more contemplation. For them, the words they spoke were sacred. Their words represented their depth of wisdom and knowledge. Their words and the thoughts expressed by the words were not to be devalued by gossip or thoughtlessness.

The writer of Toltec philosophy Don Miguel Ruiz teaches that we should use our speech in a similar method. He speaks against gossip and ‘black language’ cautioning us about the power of our words.

Reflecting on this past meeting I could not help but think about these things. Words used to hurt or blame, when they could have been used to problem solve instead. Words used in fear of the judgment of others; judgment that surely was being thrown around willfully.

Here is what I think I re-learned. I say re-learned because all of us inherently know these things in the beginning. Our fear of judgment by others springs us into the inappropriate use of the power of our words. Other things might do this as well; but the cause will always have fear at its base.

The logical conclusion might be that if we strive to drop our judgment, simultaneously learning to not fear the judgment of others, then perhaps we become able to once again elevate our words to their appropriate sacredness?

23 Comments:

Blogger Reach said...

Rick,
this is the "magic" I find on your site. You have an ability to elevate your words, and this is inspirational to me in my writings. When a problem arises in my career field, we have no time to discuss guilty parties. For this reason, it is a blessing as not one person will waste precious seconds to assign the guilt. We automatically, due to programing during our training, resolve to discovering solutions. I must admit, the synergy levels of great team work are unmatchable.
Excellent post!
Reach

PS, I will address your request later, however today's post is the result of an urge.

May 31, 2006 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Reach said...

Oh, and BTW,
I think you will like today's Quote by Reach.

May 31, 2006 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Excellent post, Rick! Words are incredibly powerful. I must admit I am guilty of using "black language" every now and then...and in the end, I usually feel horrible about it....so it would really pay me to think before I speak.

June 1, 2006 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger a fish on a bycicle said...

Very true. I thought you were going to pursue something that I completely agree with, that we simply don't get the opportunity to express ourselves properly any more. Any pause or hesitation is immediately filled by someone else presenting their point of view. So I suppose in the sort of meeting that you were discussing it's quite possible to appear to criticise because you simply don't get the opportunity to give voice to a complete train of thought. We all end up defending ourselves in sound bites?

Maybe that's whe we blog?

June 1, 2006 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Seven said...

Queen of Nuts,
Thanks sweetie. I know that bad feeling well, hopefully we all get a chance to make it right later after we do 'black language' things.

Fish,
Excellent extended thought. Very perceptive of you; I like the observation.

June 1, 2006 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Grant said...

I myself have had absolutely no bad experiences due to an unmeasured response to anything I've ever said or written, so I can't identify with the situation. However I have worked for and with several people who, when a problem is identified, immediately look for who to blame instead of solving the issue. I always advocate solving the problem first, and then going back to see who was at fault (if that's absolutely necessary).

June 1, 2006 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Seven said...

Grant
I advocate blaming the blamers. I used to do that when I was the boss of many people. It actually infuriated some people, but as soon as someone started blaming I would get focused on why they were seeking to blame, creating a new and different sort of negative spotlight. Now I know this was a shaming technique and also wrong, but it was pretty effective at stifling blaming and letting the solving commence.

June 1, 2006 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger patti_cake said...

Too many people suffer from "diarrhea of the mouth". I like the concept "think before you speak" and you have given it great breadth and width in your post Rick!
The way you choose the words and the wrap and wend their way through the paragraph really grabs your reader!

June 1, 2006 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Seven said...

Cakes,
Thanks Patti-Cakes. While I was writing this one I thought about my brother-in-law who pauses in conversation a lot. I find it very annoying because I am always wanting to finish his sentences before he gets there himself. Maybe he is just a wise ancient returned?

June 1, 2006 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Robert Shapiro said...

My friend, that is truly so beautifully said. Such wisdom truly ought to be put down on a piece of paper and kept in a special place - perhaps it ought to even be kept in our hearts as well as in our minds.
Thank you for contributing and reminding us of this great wisdom. Goodlife.

June 1, 2006 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

The funny thing is I do TRY to think before I speak, which people mistake as me not being social, involved with the conversation, or having ideas on the subject. Sadly, in an attempt to overcome this, I've started blurting things out without thinking them through which is just as bad. **Sigh** I guess until everyone becomes a wise ancient, I'll just have to put up with being quiet & un-social :) Great piece, Rick. Very well written!

June 1, 2006 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Seven said...

Robert,
You know how I always cherish your carefully chosen benevelont words. And I agree, in our hearts is where it's true home lies.
Goodlife to you too.

June 1, 2006 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Seven said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 1, 2006 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Seven said...

ooops, trying again
Stormy,
We are all victims of the pace of conversation as you and Fish so wisely assess. And I very much like Robert's thought that this small but useful wisdom finds its appropriate home in our hearts. That is when we have truly gained wisdom, is it not?

June 1, 2006 at 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Molly said...

Rick,
I am young enough that when I come to your site I often feel like a child sitting at the feet of a wise grandparent, being taught valuable things of life. I hope that is not offensive to you. It's a wonderful thing for me!

June 1, 2006 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Seven said...

Molly,
If you are older than 2 then I am not old enough to be your grand-dad, but I take no offense whatsoever. I read your comment with a pleased smile on my face.
I did however become a grandfather two summers ago!

June 1, 2006 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger kate said...

I am one of those people that HATES a quiet spell so I have, what Patti Cake calls verbal diarrhea at times.

Its been both a blessing and a curse at different times. Its me though sooooo I do with it what I can!

I actually applied to be one of the QVC hosts... I had to talk about a shirt for 2.5 minutes on tape for the interview. Try doing that successfully... thats when that VD comes in handy!! Turns out they wanted broadcasting background so I didnt get the job... grrrrr

nice post.

cheers! Kate

June 1, 2006 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

A friend of mine told me about studies that had been done on the physical reaction we have to certain words/phrases. I really only remember certain parts...but they've affected how I think/speak. The gist is that when a human being hears 'good words'...like I love you - they're body reacts - physically - with something akin to euphoria. On the flip side - 'bad' words cause a negative physical reaction...akin to the one we might get when we barely avoid a car accident.

I've tested it - unscientifically of course - with my daughter. Only the good words part, obviously. Since she was a wee thing I've told her she is spectacular.

Still - every time I say it - she wiggles with giggles. Every time. I can whisper it, say it loud, or with a funny accent...it's the words.

June 1, 2006 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger Seven said...

Jenn,
Very good for you and even better for little one! I love that phrase...wiggles with giggles!

June 1, 2006 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Seven said...

Kate,
Thanks for coming by. You're a motormouth eh?

June 1, 2006 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger fatty ~ said...

as spontaneous as i sometimes sound - i have an automatic check on my words and actions. Even as i talk or rant i can not not "spellcheck" them for appropriateness or the possible consequences.
Usually it means what i say is very measured, but sometimes the check misses stuff or isnt workin properly. And sometimes i'm just lazy with people i know.

June 6, 2006 at 4:19 AM  
Blogger Grant said...

I notice that Fatty is now commenting on your blog. She's a 17 year old ethnically Chinese hottie, so your blogging mission will now be to convince her to marry me when she turns 18.

Thanks in advance. Also Happy Evilus (06/06/06). >=)

June 6, 2006 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Seven said...

Fatty,
I have been assigned a mission by Grant.
I'll be considering if I accept or not.
Though I am puzzled? A 17 yo old hottie that is also a FATTY?

Grant,
Somehow the words Happy and Evilus used together have confused me. But, thanks. And as you see I am considering the mission. I would start by singing/memorizing Joe Cocker's "Drown In My Own Tears' for the proper development of loving passion directed at Fatty. Never ever underestimate the power of your own passion let loose on the bunny of choice.

June 6, 2006 at 6:18 PM  

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