How many stock answers do you carry around in your tote bag?
We all have them and we bring them out so often that others can finish our sentences with them. There is a need for stock answers in our world. For example they work well with specific questions like, “Do you have a parrot?” Either you do or you don’t, or you have a cockatoo. The answer is right there in stock.
What about other questions?
How often do you parcel out a pat answer?
Since we are creatures of patterns, the answer is quite often. There are two immediate difficulties that I see with our normal way of doing things.
- We are not present with the questioner.
- We may miss a treasure waiting to be discovered.
Think about the last time someone asked you a question to which you supplied a ready-made answer. It was a classic stimulus/response interaction which doesn’t provide any depth to the communication. It’s like a robot answered the question for you and you weren’t present. You didn’t give the questioner access to you – only to your gatekeeper.
When you become present with a questioner, you open the door to a deeper communication because that presence can be felt by others well past the superficial level of most interactions. Presence provides a fuller experience for all involved.
Secondly, when you become present, you swim in a deeper ocean. You go well past getting your feet wet and collecting a few shells. You get on your scuba gear and plumb the immeasurable depths. This is where the pirate booty exists.
So how do we become present with a questioner?
First, recognize you are about to give a prefab answer.
Second, just sit with the question for a moment and allow other choices to bubble up to the surface.
Other answers are there, they just need you to create some space for them to pop in. Creating the space means interrupting your stock answer and just sitting with the question for a moment or two longer. You will notice different answers presenting themselves, offering you a choice. This is really exercising your free will that too often gets bypassed by not being present.
After exploring the other possibilities, you may find that your off the shelf answer is the most appropriate. Even so, you have done two wonderful things by taking the time to be present.
- You were part of a deeper connection with another human being.
- You exercised your free will which is a rare occurrence in a stimulus/response world.
You may want to test this out in low risk situations at first, like at the drive up window at McDonalds. “Do you want fries with that?” will now take on a whole new meaning for you.
Once you get some practice with being present, you can expand your new found skill to other areas of your life.
It’s really a cool thing to experience because you discover that your interactions can have more life to them.
All the best,
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