Learning to Stop At The "What Do You Mean By That?" Threshold
Wednesday October 12, 2022
One of the biggest problems humanity faces today is pretty tricky: It’s the concept of the unknown.
I believe that, moving forward as a species, we will need to tackle and solve this problem, making the unknown less of a feared condition or aspect of life.
Lately I’m noticing even more than usual that, far from applying only to fringe topics like UFOlogy, it most certainly even applies to everyday questions.
Can I Have More Details on The Unknown?
I noticed that a lot of people are wayyyy past their personal comfort level by the time they ask “What Do You Mean By That?”
They don’t like having to ask this. Not just because it makes them feel dumb, which is true sometimes. But also because they are very uncomfortable with the unknown in general.
And—is it really wise to continue talking about the unknown in such a case, with someone who is that uncomfortable already?
What if it started with a simple topic, like you saying “here’s an idea for this weekend’s party?”
In my experience, even thinking about this simple type of future activity can cause high levels of stress for those who fear the unknown. Everyone has their threshold.
This is why I think it is important to start thinking more deeply about responding to the question and mindset as soon as it comes up.
What to Do About It
Here’s something to try on your own: Stop things short, as soon as you hear “What Do You Mean By That,” or sense a similar questioning mindset. Set a temporary boundary right there. And then make some time to ask yourself:
- Am I trying to communicate something that exists in my mind, as a concept, imagined idea, or plan? (I generally call this “intuitive” material, or information from the realm of the intuition)
- Is it possible that this person is uncomfortable or lacks experience with intuitive-weighted topics, like planning? Or mental imagery? This is really good to know as early as possible. New phrases or tools can be used to help make these topics easier to deal with. And knowing about this issue in general gives you more control over potential problems that may arise.
- Is it possible that this person needs more bigger-picture context? For example, some details about the history of the topic in question? Even for party planning, it can be helpful to rewind a bit, and say, “before I go into my idea, here’s some background.” Basic sequential logic can do wonders here.
- Is the conversational approach appropriate, or is more formal training or a formal presentation a better idea? This is especially helpful to consider if you need people to work with you, or for you, at the level of plans, ideas, and concepts.
Why It’s Important that We Help Them
It may not be your fault for having an idea that others don’t understand. But it’s a good idea to start thinking about that bridge—about what can be done in these cases. Cases that can come up when the “What Do You Mean By That” idea you’re trying to communicate refers to a concept you can’t exactly produce in physical form from your coat pocket, but which you also really need to get across.
And why is important for us intuitives, planners, conceptualizers, inventors to think about this?
Because it involves creating new processes to be used in the future.
So, by definition, those in your audience who aren’t comfortable with the unknown probably can’t do this part for themselves, either. And it doesn’t make them ignorant, or stupid. Far from it! Some of the most clever, executive-minded, and productive people I’ve ever met have also really struggled with the unknown.
If we really want to improve the universe, the world, humanity, and its general readiness for future events, those of us who can face the unknown comfortably have a lot of important work to do, to benefit those who can still make their own contributions…though perhaps not with the exact same gifts.
Things on my mind lately, 2023-12 yearly wrap-up edition →
When My Words Meet Your Mental Stageplay →
A quick way to get more creative coding control with ChatGPT →
Why it can be a good idea to say "Thank You" to ChatGPT →
Let's Talk Zuckerberg and BJJ, and What That Says →
Things I Made for You
Own your procrastination with Whole Productivity, a new system → Get my free INTJ COVID-19 Guide → Explore your gifts with my INTJ Workbook → Other Publications → ...and the fake word of the hour: "Errk." Pretty sure it has to do with feats of daring.