Here’s a line I’ve used on numerous occasions:
Help me to understand…
Here are a list of questions that have accompanied the line;
- what you’re talking about?
- why this is a thing?
- why you think this is a thing?
- what happened to get you thinking that this was a thing?
- how I can help you stop thinking that the thing you thought is not a thing?
Using help me to understand has gotten me out of a heap of trouble over the years. Instead of enacting the conversational version of a spit take when I hear something that just does not make sense. This simple sentence buys my brain a bit of time to process any novel and or dangerous information. I felt it was time to give these magic words their due.
Help me to understand is more than a deflection, it is a polite way of saying, “Although every fibre in my body completely disagrees with you, I will listen and try to broaden my understanding of an issue”.
Help me to understand is what we all are working towards as we grow in our humanity around one another. It is not vile or reactionary, but instead a higher order thinking attempt to see all sides of a story, an event, or what we are unable to rationally understand.
Help me to understand requires collaboration. I can’t do it on my own. It asks us to put aside scepticism and share our ideas openly and fearlessly.
This line crosses the boundaries of many professions. Since mine is education I find it a natural and friendly way to get students and other educators to share more, rethink more often, and to broaden our collective understandings of who, what, where, why, and how we educate?
This post can also be found on Medium at https://goo.gl/DIbMhg