Monday, October 16, 2006

Discussion Scenario #1: "Forest for the Trees"

Today's scenario is called "Forest for the Trees" because it refers to a discussion in which one person is trying to point out and discuss a trend, while another person continually misses the broader point because he or she is too busy focusing on the elements and examples of that trend. They're missing the forest because they're too busy focusing on the trees.

Here's an example of what I mean:

Malik: You know, I didn't mind Jason moving in with us for a while after his divorce, but I really don't think he appreciates what we're trying to do for him and he really doesn't seem to be trying very hard to find a place of his own.

Shanice: Really? No, I think he appreciates what we've done for him. In fact, he thanked me when he borrowed the car, last week.

Malik: It's nice that he said the words, but it's not just about what he says. It's what he does (or doesn't do) that truly counts.

In the past week or so, he's left the lights, tv, and stuff on when he leaves, even though I've asked him not to and he KNOWS he's not paying any electricity bills around here. He doesn't buy any groceries, but he keeps leaving the milk out or leaving the bread open. And when someone leaves a message about a job, he doesn't call them back. I've heard messages from the same people over and over, again, on the machine.

Shanice: That one time, though, he didn't turn the tv off because he didn't know where the remote was.

Malik: Maybe that was the case, then, but that wasn't the only time he le...

Shanice: No, really. I remember when that remote kept disappearing deep, deep into the folds of that new couch. It was easy to lose.

Malik: Even if that's true in that one case,...

Shanice: It IS true. Don't you remember when we spent all that time looking for the remote?

Malik: My point is just that he's not all that focused on improving his situation or respecting ours.

Shanice: I TOLD you that remote was...

Okay. I've beaten the hell out of that dead horse, but this is a good example of the kind of thing that I've encountered time and again - from multiple sources. One might think that all just people, like Shanice, just don't want to be wrong (or that maybe she's SLEEPING with Jason :p ), and maybe that's true, sometimes, but I continue to get the impression that a lot of times, these folks are being completely sincere. They think that potentially refuting just ONE of many examples of the trend means that there NEVER WAS a trend.

Obviously, I believe there's a serious flaw in that logic, but that doesn't stop people from repeatedly using this as a legitimate debating tool.

I don't know that pointing this out, in this manner, will be particularly helpful in the future, but I'm curious to see how many of these I can compile... and whether anyone else has had similar experiences (from either side of the discussion).

Your thoughts?


Shai said...

Different perspectives. I have watched people discussing the same thing from two different points and missing all points completely. One time I felt like I was watching a ping-pong match. LOL.

Since I have taken training courses on communication and had to deal with different people at work, I try to take my time when I listen and speak.

Many times people don't realize that communication does not mean just talking and listening. Feedback is essential so that both parties are on the same page.

Hence, some people misunderstand when I ask a question for clarity.

In the case of the discussion you posted, I think it is a case of a emotion versus ration. And emotion don't pay bills.

Son of Blog-El said...


Discussing the discussion. Forest for the trees. You say tomato...

I like it. I constantly drift off topic or zero in on the wrong point. Unfortunately, its even worse in this written world where I can't tell the intent behind a phrase or word. Maybe I should just slow down and actually re-read before I post.

Looking at this scenario, the remote was probably lost when he was poundin' that @$$ into the couch...

Michael May said...

"...the remote was probably lost when he was poundin' that @$$ into the couch..."

Ha! My day = Made. :D

I'm with you, West. I hate it when conversations take that turn. Malik's point was still valid and had he not been in the heat of the argument, he would've thought to tell her that Jason still could've turned off the damn TV without the remote by getting up off of his damn ass and walking over to it.

West said...

'preciate the feedback, folks.

All I can say is "Sho' nuff."