Imagine reading this quote say, in 1984.
“I will not be releasing any podcasts until further notice. To our #UnlockingUs and #DaretoLead communities, I’m sorry and I’ll let you know if and when that changes. Stay awkward, brave, and kind.” –Brené Brown
What might you think?
Hmm, I wonder why she’s pausing the podcast?
I wonder what’s going on?
I wonder if everything is OK?
I’m curious to learn more…
Actual date of post: January 29th, 2022, 4 days after Neil Young pulled his music from Spotify “in protest of the platform’s streaming of the podcaster Joe Rogan, who has been dismissive of the coronavirus vaccine.” (Source: New York Times.)
Now with THAT context, what might people think? According to the tens of thousands of comments across Brené Brown’s social media platforms, A LOT. Perhaps “thinking” is the wrong word and the better question is, “How would people respond?”
Answer there: in the form of a complete shit show. (Brené’s words, not mine. Although I concur.)
The onslaught of accusations, assumptions, and judgments in the comments on her social feeds was astounding. Threats in the form of “canceling” her by burning her books because she had “canceled” Joe Rogan were ludicrous and ironic and would have been funny…except they weren’t.
I couldn’t help but think…WHOA. WHAT HAPPENED TO CURIOSITY?
Whoa–did they read something in that quote that I missed?
Re-read it. “I’m taking a pause.” She never mentioned Joe Rogan. The name “Spotify” is nowhere in that quote. Yet with complete certainty, thousands of people castigated Brené for her stance.
The thing is, their comments weren’t about her stance. Their comments were their judgments, assumptions, accusations, perspectives, and narratives around THEIR stance of what they ASSUMED her stance might be based on what they THOUGHT they knew of her, projected on to her NEUTRAL post.
(Yes. I know. Confusing. Re-read that last bit and see if you can apply that scenario to any of your recent conversations…)
Curiosity and wonder were thrown out the window when righteous, point-proving took over.
Now, I get that there’s some heat around the issues of this whole Spotify/Joe Rogan situation. Big names, polarizing topics.
I’d argue these patterns persist at the office when someone says something we might not agree with. When someone thinks in a way not in complete alignment with our own way of thinking. When we have strong opinions.
Do we default to pointing the finger? Blasting someone? Making assumptions? Talking smack behind their backs? Building up narratives to prove our point that only take in our perspective?
It’s in these moments that it’s even MORE important to pause. To reflect. To double down on curiosity and wonder and ask questions that encourage empathy and understanding.
I wonder what’s going on?
I wonder if there is more to this story than I am aware of?
I wonder if I have all of the facts?
I wonder if there is a different perspective I am not seeing?
It is only when we pause, put the effort in to get curious, and stay out of judgment to we open up possibilities of understanding and connection.
Bonus: we avoid the emotionally exhausting, energy-sucking, polarizing shit-show that is so much of our discourse today.