Alleviating unconscious incompetence

I've been shoveling snow this morning, both here and at the next door neighbor's. When I finished, I continued designing the immersive workshop on relating. I've recently been pondering the learners' initial problem with "unconscious incompetence".

The possibility I'm exploring with them is "off radar" from their familiar considerations, alternatives and expectations. After a lifetime of troublesome experiences with relating, they are most likely convinced they are right to expect dissatisfaction. They know from experience that other people don't relate well, don't reciprocate in kind and don't understand people who are very different from themselves. The possibility of deeply satisfying relating seems naive, impractical and overly optimistic. The learners assume they don't know about this because it does not exist in the realm of realistic expectations.

Coincidentally, I discovered that Steve Roelser wrote today about the four stages of learning that begin with unconscious incompetence. He brought up the topic in the context of consciousness raising and giving people conscious reasons to change. Good stuff!

It occurred to me that most content delivery "makes learners wrong" for their maintenance of unconscious incompetence. A presenters actions speak louder than words. The actions of teaching, preaching and authoring come across as insensitive, propagandistic and domineering. Everyone is being told the same information. Explicitly the informative presentation says "listen to this". Implicitly that presentation is saying "never mind what you're feeling, what you've been through in your life, what's happened to you recently, or what you think is the right approach to this".

I get around this when I'm mentoring entrepreneurs because we are conversing one on one. We explore "what happened to you?" because I'm not addressing many people at once. But mentoring is not scalable. There must be a way to send a different message than "never mind...." when presenting to larger audiences.

So far, I'm considering adding a brief overview of "inconceivable alternatives" to send that different message. Here's a glimpse at that approach:
When we know things from experience, that's all we know. We don't know what we don't know. We are not aware of having blind spots, overlooking possibilities and ruling out creative solutions. We're convinced by our experience to trust what we've discovered works for us. That means that something we don't already know is going to be inconceivable to us. More specifically, the new possibility may initially appear:
  • unfamiliar, strange, surprising
  • unexplainable, mysterious, puzzling
  • unalterable, lifeless, stagnant
By validating their initial experience of inconceivable possibilities, I'm intending to send the opposite message: "I'm considering what you're feeling, what you've been through in your life, what's happened to you recently, or what you think is the right approach to this".

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