Argyris noted that disciplined left-hand-column awareness can be an effective aid in communication, making you sensitive to how others are responding, and enriching the content of what you are trying to convey. And radar can enrich the content and accuracy of your right-hand column. But it’s also easy to see how a well-developed radar can send your left-hand column out of whack. You may notice so many details that you lose track of what you’re saying and why.
When this happens, your left-hand column becomes a source of absence rather than presence, a way of tuning out rather than tuning in. It becomes a source of weakness rather than a source of strength.
So how do you discipline your left-hand column so you can make it work in your favor?
Trying to suppress it is generally not a good idea. In fact, Argyris cautioned that ignoring or blocking out left-hand thoughts was a good way to become a less effective and less intuitive communicator. That’s because being out of touch with what you are actually thinking and feeling disconnects you from the people you’re supposed to be engaged with. Your total absorption in your content comes off as robotic and inauthentic, which may make others wonder what you’re trying to hide. In addition, suppressing what you notice consumes a lot of neural energy. So the effort can make you lose steam and feel exhausted.
For all these reasons, blocking out what you notice is not a good practice. Far better to manage your left-hand column so you can benefit from it without being overwhelmed.
Buddhist concept of ‘beginner’s mind,’ the idea that you should approach each task like a beginner so you don’t get stuck on autopilot. As I said this, I realized that beginner’s mind was one of the assets I brought to my work. It had probably kept me fresh for all these years. Making that discovery as I was speaking turned out to be pretty powerful.