I’m not very good at trying to digest new information on subjects I know very little about. For some reason I have this concept that I have to be good at everything, or I am good for nothing. Learning to be teachable has been a process that I am still working on to this day, and probably will for the rest of my life.
Today was a good example of dealing with information that was not familiar to me. An IT friend came over and was discussing my website and blog. The words he started using were well beyond my comprehension and I found myself shutting down, as is my usual pattern. I wanted to scream and run out of the room, getting into a fetal position in a dark corner until the agony was over.
But today I decided to try something new and express how I was feeling. I didn’t do it with malice or acting like I was offended that he wouldn’t understand what he was saying was too technical for me, but simply expressed that he was talking over me and that my capacity for new information had reached about 95% at that point. His response was surprisingly gentle, and almost apologetic. I could tell he really liked what he knew and was only trying to help me.
When I give people the information they need, so they can understand how I am feeling, I am not giving away my power, but rather giving them an opportunity to choose what to do with the information. This concept is completely new to me. In the past when I was not able to follow a conversation or topic, I would either lash out over fear they would perceive that I wasn’t smart, or would put them on the defensive by attacking their lack of sensitivity to my needs. Where I learned this pattern of behavior I do not know, but it isn’t very productive.
To continue to grow and expand I need to learn new information, and get fresh ideas and perspectives on things. I can’t do this if I am closed off to being vulnerable, expressing areas where I lack knowledge and need more information. I don’t have to appear to know something about every topic. Plus, I imagine it would be pretty annoying to be around someone who thinks they know something about everything. And I certainly don’t want to be that guy.
Today I will remain teachable, even if it requires some vulnerability.