Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Being Responsible For Being Heard

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

November 15, 2016



I am indebted to my sister Anthea "Anth" Sarah Platt Haupt and to Ronald "Ron" Peter Zeller and to the graduates of the est  Communication Workshop who inspired this conversation.



I'm clear I'm responsible for the way I listen. That much seems obvious (if not pretty basic) to me. For example, I can listen in a way which leaves you without having the experience of being heard (I fidget, I'm distracted, I'm pre-occupied, I interrupt, I change the subject before you make your point, I talk over you, I don't get what you're saying). I can also listen in a way which leaves you with the experience of being heard (so I focus, I'm present, I'm attentive, I'm quiet, I allow you to complete the point you're making, I speak only when you're done speaking, I get what you're saying). Whichever of these ways I listen, it's clear to me the responsibility for the way I listen, is mine. As a direct correlation, what's also clear to me is the responsibility for whether or not you have the experience of being heard by me, is mine too.

Conversely when you listen, you can listen in a way which leaves me without having the experience of being heard. You can also listen in a way which leaves me with the experience of being heard. What I've been inquiring into lately, is: with regard to having the experience of being heard by you or not, do I have a responsibility in this ie do I have a responsibility in the way you  hear me?  I get the vice versa  for sure: clearly I have a responsibility for how I listen ie for how I hear you. But do I have a responsibility for how you  listen ie for how you hear me? I toss a pebble into the pond. Clearly I'm responsible for tossing it. But can I take any responsibility for how it lands? Indeed, is it even an option to assume I can take any responsibility for how it lands? If I can, and if tossing a pebble represents communication, then communication would ascend out of the realm of mere chat, and into the domain of transformed relationship: being responsible for what we say and  for being heard.

Ordinarily we may say the answer is no ie that we can not take that responsibility, and nor do we even have the ability  to take that responsibility. We may say the way you hear me, is the way you hear me regardless  of what I say, regardless of the way I say it, and even regardless of whether I want to experience being heard or not. That would seem to be the default conclusion. But where it begins getting interesting is if there is some heretofore unknown responsibility I have for the way you hear me. In other words, I'm wondering in effect if I have a responsibility for my own experience of being heard by you or not. And if I do, what does it look like for me? ie what does that imply? Conversely, do you  have a responsibility for being heard by me or not? And if you do, what does it look like for you? ie what does that imply?

When I take responsibility for being heard by you (which is tantamount to taking responsibility for how you hear me ie for the way you listen  me), it is a stand I take with regard to being in complete communication. Said another way, it's a stand I take for what's possible  for being in communication. And as a stand I take for what's possible for being in communication, it has a profound impact on how I communicate, on how you listen, then consequently on my experience of being heard by you.

It's here ie it's around about now  that the difference between mere talking, as differentiated from speaking, comes into play. Consider they're really distinct modes of languaging  - whether or not you've considered this distinction as a possibility before ie whether or not you've ever differentiated between talking and speaking before. For what I intend here ie for the purposes of this conversation, what I mean by "talking" is merely making noise which carries no true intention of landing (it's actually ignorant of this option). It carries no true intention of being heard. It brings forth no "presence of Self"  in its execution. And what I mean by "speaking" on the other hand, carries with it the intention of landing. And it more than brings forth presence of Self: it is the linguistic act  which is  presence of Self itself. When distinguished this way, talking provides merely space-filling sound - whereas speaking provides common ground for being, for listening, for engaged presence, and (here's the point of this inquiry) for being completely heard. It is in differentiating between talking and speaking that the possibility of being responsible for being heard, is teased out.



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