I think so. And therein lies the problem…
Our perception uses filters. Some of these are called cognitive biases. Essentially they are patterns of thought that channel how we process information and lead us towards certain conclusions.
Recently there’s been an explosion of interest and understanding about cognitive biases. All of which is really helpful… unless they stop us functioning because of a fear of cognitive bias (… perhaps only a quiet disruptor would say that!)
So here are a few that may help – both for listening to others and hearing what’s going on inside:
- Sunk costs – this is where we give more weight to what we have already invested. This could be time, resources or previous life choices. We may find it hard to hear a suggestion that disregards those investments, even if that’s the wiser option.
- Familiarity blanket – similar to sunk costs. This limits our capacity to hear about novel ideas or suggestions because what we know feels more safe and comfortable. The status quo has a strong and usually hidden emotional hold.
- Our own story – this is our narrative of ourselves and how the world works. Recently I came across this very satisfying definition from Ian Morgan Cron: personality is how you show up for life. This is formed by our essential personhood and the things that have shaped us. It’s the story we tell ourselves and use to filter what we hear. Anything that challenges this, has a hard job getting through.
Are we really listening? Good question.