Re: Wisdom LO1011

C. B. Willis (
Mon, 1 May 1995 23:49:12 -0700 (PDT)

Replying to LO999 --

Doug Seeley wrote:
> But, I wonder if Mike or anyone else in the LO List could help me with the
> following issue..?? It is not uncommon for me to encounter a lot of
> resistance to distinctions when I use common words for making them (even
> with using them for explicit purposes) or when I introduce uncommon words
> or phrases (which are often seen as jargon).
> At times, it has almost seemed that I come across as a kind of
> "intellectual bully" when I insist that the distinctions be made. I find
> such situations evers so frustrating because it seems as if the objectors
> are not interested in the usefulness of the exercise and would rather swim
> around in a sea of murky, and unchallenging concepts.

Distinctions are an acquired taste. There is also a distinction to be
made between "differences that make a difference" and differences that
don't seem to make a difference. People need to acquire a taste for
differences that make a difference (and exactly how they do that).

Before a group can appreciate the particular distinction you are making,
it might help to back up a bit and do any or all of the following:

1) State the problem they're trying to solve, have them say what they've
tried and how did it work, reiterate Einstein's idea that in order to
solve a problem you have to get out of the mentality that created the
problem (paraphrase), then invite them to notice the difference between X
and Y, and lead them to say how embracing X leads down one path and
produces one results (what is that), and how Y leads down another path and
produces another result (what is that). Which result do they prefer? It
was the distinction the allowed them to come to the desired result or new
way of being. One or two demos like this will sell any rational person on
the practical power of making distinctions that make a difference.

2) Expect that you're up against irrational conditioning and ideas they
hold about thinking, thinkers, problem solving, educated people, etc.
Someone coming from an irrational place refuses to differentiate, but
misidentifies or confuses many things, and accuses YOU of "nitpicking"
when you get near this, which succeeds in temporarily getting the
attention off themselves. Exercises that indirectly show all involved
that they have limited ideas about themselves and their abilities, and
then inviting them to look at how they may have acquired those ideas by
imitating others (who?), or from drawing conclusions based on painful
experiences in the past (what?).

3) Use the positive suggestion about how smart this group is,
validating them sincerely where possible early on, sets them up to further
meet that expectation and be open to entertaining distinctions. It builds
an intellectual rapport with them.

4) Build on "noticing". Ask them, "have you ever noticed that ...?"
This gets them to check their experience and find the times when they did
indeed notice whatever. When you are building toward making a distinction,
draw on their noticing again. This way they can own the distinction because
they can relate to it experientially, it's fun, and it builds a shared

C.B. Willis
Executive Inquiry
Sunnyvale CA

| | "Values are the infrastructure |
| | upon which civilization |
| | will be reinvented." - CBW |