I recently had a conversation with a relative of mine about why some people try to finish other people’s sentences when being told a story, while other people sit and listen and simply take in the story. This morning I had the following insight:
A few years back I bought the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I was thrilled, like super thrilled, when I drew a picture of an old man sitting in a chair that made me look like an artist. I never thought I could draw well, but the secret was this: They had us turn the drawing in the book upside down. Then we were to copy the drawing, line by line, curve by curve. And after three hours of doing so (I told you, I’m not an artist), the result was a very accurate copy of this drawing.
In turning the page upside down we shut off our left brain, our logic brain, our expectations and assumptions of what an old man on a chair should look like, and we immersed in our right brain, our creative brain, simply being present and observing what was right in front of us.
If I had stayed in left brain mode, there is no doubt the results would have been far less impressive.
This difference between left brain and right brain holds true for many aspects of our lives, including how we converse with others. Are we making assumptions, jumping to conclusions, trying to connect what we are hearing to what we already know? Or are we simply being present, listening to each word being said and observing as the story unfolds moment to moment.