MISSIONS OF LIGHT SERIES – Mission 4 — Talk to People

MISSIONS OF LIGHT SERIES

Mission 4 — Talk to People

by Aspen — ABCU|8 team

Listen and ask questions. The right kind of questions. Those are key to this mission.

“Some warriors are naturally gregarious, and strike up an easy conversation at the grocery store or with a delivery driver. They keep family in the loop by telephone, instant messaging, or email. They are good listeners and know how to ask the kinds of questions that lead others to uncover truths for themselves.” [1]

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If this is your mission, establishing close connections to lots of people is already in your nature. While it is very tempting to express one’s views forcefully, direct confrontation can have the paradoxical effect of pushing away those we hope to persuade.

People can become combative when their belief system is threatened. Cognitive dissonance is a very real phenomenon. [2] When new information contradicts what a person has long believed—upon which their beliefs and behavior are based—it is natural to reject that information. This can reach a crescendo until the person suddenly realizes they have to reconsider their beliefs and stand down. Or perhaps they simply cannot tolerate the dissonance, and take steps to distance themself from it, like walking away from the conversation or rejecting the information source. Our entrenched beliefs, whether real or false, are intrinsic to our concept of ourself, therefore our ego, our personhood. When this feeling of “who I am” is threatened, a fight-or-flight adrenaline reaction may occur. We have all felt threatened by uncomfortable information that we had to evaluate and decide whether to believe.

Rather than alarming them and provoking cognitive dissonance—which might cause them to distance themself from you—consider an alternate approach. First, find out where they stand. What they believe. What information sources they trust. Then you are in a position to ask Socratic questions that could help them release programmed beliefs without hardening their position.

Socratic questions are focused, open-ended questions that encourage reflection. They can surface knowledge that was outside of our awareness, resulting in insightful perspectives and positive actions. They are “widely used in teaching and counseling to expose and unravel deeply-held values and beliefs that frame and support what we think and say.” [3] Instead, you play dumb, acting as though ignorant of the subject. This encourages the other person to become active in exploring the question, and their beliefs concerning it.

You might start with questions that are not too far from what they already believe. Allow them time to consider the questions and react to them in their own way. This approach takes time, but the results can be rewarding. Truths that someone uncovers for themself are generally the most impactful. A Mission 4 warrior is successful to the degree that their family, friends and acquaintances relinquish tidy sound-bites and start thinking for themselves. Your goal is not to think for them, but to encourage the development of critical thinking and introspection skills in others.

Sources

1. Missions of Light – Introduction, https://abcu8.co/2020/11/21/missions-of-light-introduction/

2. Cognitive Dissonance: The Deep State’s Last Stand?, https://abcu8.co/2020/08/03/cognitive-dissonance-the-deep-states-last-stand/

3. Socratic Questioning in Psychology: Examples and Techniques, https://positivepsychology.com/socratic-questioning/