"What am I not saying that needs to be said?"
"What am I saying that's not being heard?"
"What's being said that I'm not hearing?"
Jerry Colonna from the "Coach with a Spider Tatoo" from the “The Tim Ferriss Show” link to the tim.blog/podcast
THE MEAT (The Main Idea)
Listening pretty faithfully to "The Tim Ferriss Show" (link: tim.blog/podcast), I have stumbled upon a treasure trove of mind-expanding conversations that never fail to captivate me. Tim's insightful interviews consistently serve up invaluable information that immediately gets my wheels turning. In one particularly episode titled "The Coach with the Spider Tattoo," Tim Ferriss engages in a fascinating conversation with the extraordinary Jerry Colonna—a well-respected executive coach, leadership consultant, and author.
During their dialogue, Colonna reveals the source of his coaching prowess—a trio of profound questions he was gifted by Dr. Sayres. These questions, I strongly feel are starters to unlocking self-reflective transformation: "What am I not saying that needs to be said?", "What am I saying that's not being heard?", and "What's being said that I'm not hearing?"
Now, let's delve into the first question—"What am I not saying that needs to be said?"-a courageous leap into the realm of vulnerability. It prompts us to explore the unspoken thoughts, emotions, and concerns that often remain hidden within us. We hold back for various reasons—fear, discomfort, or the assumption that others are already aware. By consciously excavating these unspoken truths, we create opportunities for personal growth and foster deeper understanding.
The second question takes us on a journey into the nuances of communication. "What am I saying that's not being heard?" It invites us to examine how our words resonate with others, recognizing that misalignment can occur when our intentions aren't accurately received or understood. I may know a thing or two about how this feels. By reflecting on the impact of our messages, we gain the power to adjust our communication style, clarify our ideas, and ensure our authentic voice is truly heard.
Lastly, we have the third question—a call to embrace active listening and presence. "What's being said that I'm not hearing?" It emphasizes the importance of being fully engaged in conversations by immersing ourselves in the exchange of ideas. By honing our listening skills, suspending judgment, and truly absorbing what others are saying, we reflect empathy, forge meaningful connections, and create an environment of mutual respect.
THE CHEESE (Added Depth)
I'm getting personal for the added depth.
As someone known for my assertiveness and direct communication style, I often found myself speaking my mind without fully considering the impact my words would have on others. It took longer than I would like to admit, but this approach led to misunderstandings and hurt feelings within teams I served on.
Over the course of many years, I have learned to utilize these three questions. It has required a significant amount of active listening, a lot of inner voice, and seeking guidance from trustworthy individuals who genuinely aim to assist rather than harm. While I can't claim to be a perfect listener, I consistently strive to improve in this area. In fact, I have printed these questions and displayed them in my office as a constant reminder. Whenever I sense my thoughts drifting towards doubts like, "Are they truly attentive to what I'm saying?" or "That hardly aligns with the main point I was conveying," I refer to these questions.
Let me take this moment to point out that these three questions did not change me in isolation. They were a valuable supplement to the work I was already doing, serving as a powerful addition to my communication toolbox. I am still direct, but with a little more compassion. I am still assertive, but I now listen more before I speak. As a matter of fact, I have come to realize that I can communicate my thoughts more clearly because I see the bigger picture more vividly.
THE OLIVES (A Surprising Element)
Let's look to an iconic movie and powerful scene from "Good Will Hunting" (1997). In the therapy session between Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon) and Dr. Sean Maguire (played by Robin Williams), we can witness the power of the three questions in action.
Question 1: "What am I not saying that needs to be said?"
During the therapy session, Will Hunting harbors deep emotional wounds that he struggles to articulate. Dr. Maguire creates a safe and non-judgmental environment, encouraging Will to open up and express the thoughts and feelings he has long kept hidden. This question allows Will to confront his suppressed emotions and share his innermost fears and vulnerabilities.
Question 2: "What am I saying that's not being heard?"
Will often employs defense mechanisms such as sarcasm and intellectual superiority to shield himself from true connection. However, Dr. Maguire sees beyond the facade and actively listens, understanding the underlying pain and struggles Will is trying to convey. By attentively hearing what lies beneath the surface, Dr. Maguire helps bridge the gap between Will's words and his unspoken needs.
Question 3: "What's being said that I'm not hearing?"
Dr. Maguire recognizes that Will's tough exterior conceals a brilliant mind and a wounded soul. He listens not only to the explicit words but also to the unspoken messages and subtle cues, discerning the hidden cries for help and the profound fears that even Will himself may not fully grasp. Through compassionate listening and empathetic understanding, Dr. Maguire guides Will on a transformative journey toward self-discovery and healing. To be truly understood and known without walls is a profound experience that we can all aspire to embrace. The power of these three questions lies in their ability to unlock authentic dialogue, fostering understanding, connection, and personal growth.
I encourage you to seek out the therapy session scene between Will Hunting and Dr. Sean Maguire in "Good Will Hunting" for a firsthand experience of the powerful dialogue. As you watch the scene, listen carefully for the subtle signals that convey the three questions. They may not be explicitly stated, but their presence can be felt in the meaningful exchange between the characters. This scene offers valuable insights into the transformative impact of these questions and their ability to foster understanding and personal growth.