DINK #308 What Do You Not Know That You Don’t Know?

Posted on : 15-02-2011 | By : Lynn | In : Communication

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Remember Bill Withers’ song, “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone“? When I was a little kid, the very ending drove me crazy….okay! okay! we know that you know that we know that you know that there definitely ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone!!  Well fast forward several decades and that seemingly redundant ending has a whole new meaning for me (still reminds me of my brother and I trying to sing the ending in one long breath so that we could mimic Bill but almost passing out in the process…but I digress!)

We’re starting to explore Epistemology in Philosophy Class, which is the “nature of knowledge’.  Three basic questions of Epistemology are:  What is knowledge?  What can I know? and How do I know it?  You’re probably wondering what this can possibly have to do with you, but understanding what we know and what we don’t know much less what we don’t even know that we don’t know….are some of the most important questions we can ask ourselves in regards to how we relate to the world around us.

One of my long-time coaching friends shared with me recently how much she appreciated the gift I have to just “know” what to say, when to say it and when not to say anything.  Believe me, this has been a long time coming for me—I used to be so obnoxious with all my ‘knowing” and would “know” all over anyone who would allow me the room.  Today, I’ve learned that although I do know quite a lot (in spite of my sieve-like brain) a.) there is quite a lot I don’t know and b.) when it comes to really “being there” for another person–it really doesn’t matter what you know.  What is more important is your knowing how to use what you know in a way that can help the other person to recognize what they know.

Some of my favorite teachers in life (both the academic as well as the non-academic variety) have been those people who seem to really know who I am by the way that they ask me questions about what I know, think, believe, need and/or want.  Some in particular, have had a very elegant way of responding to who I was in a very understated manner which allowed me to save face and feel almost brilliant at the same time, without taking any credit for it.  Sometimes days, weeks, months even years later I would replay the scenario in my head only to be able to see the scaffolding behind the scenes of their actions with me and appreciate them even more for allowing me the room to grow and explore.

Such a simple thing really, to ask another person what they need, or what they are thinking or even to clarify what they have said…even if we know in our gut of guts all of the answers and beyond to any of the questions we are asking.  The knowing is about going deeper into the understanding of what we  know so that we can go deeper in order to help another person in their knowing.

That’s a whole lot of special vitamin K for your brain but I believe understanding about our knowing can then lead us into further explorations of  empathy….but then that’s a whole other blog for us…know what I mean?

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