The blog post is titled "Meet Me Halfway" (Scientific American) and its author writes about one kind of two-way communication: The speaker gives information and the listener, well, listens. The blogger then gives us some interesting neuroscience-related information about the way the brains of speakers and listeners can synchronize. And then she writes about scientists having much good information for the public—if the public would only listen!
But the vast majority of the populace still cheerfully go about their daily lives without giving science (or scientists) a second thought — when they’re not actively hostile to it. We’re simply not reaching them. To borrow a line from Cool Hand Luke: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”
The missing ingredient from her blog post is benefits. Why would a member of the populace want to listen? What would they gain by paying attention to a scientist? Of course, this is basic sales theory: I won't listen to you unless and until you show me what's in it for me to pay attention.
The blogger seems to leave out that powerful and essential ingredient of benefits.
Which is why I’m speaking directly to the listeners out there now who rarely give science a second thought and/or assume they could never have a meaningful connection with a scientist: you need to meet scientists halfway. It’s not enough to sit back and wait for them to impress or entertain you before you’ll deign to give science a smidgen of your attention — not if you want to truly grok what science is all about.
I am reminded of a salesperson who continues to stress the features of his or her product while ignoring what the product
How do you achieve a mind meld with others in a mediation? Or with listeners in an audience? Or with your spouse or child? You find out what they want and need and then, if there's a fit, you connect what you have with what they want. Then the minds begin to meld. Then the listening begins.
And how do you find out what someone wants and needs? Questions, questions, questions. Then more questions. Remember the brain likes to be engaged, not sit there as a passive receiver. (The second "I" in my acronym INSIDE with points on how to get the brain's attention stands for "Interactive.") Why would someone want to listen to your fine information? Find out! Change saying "wah wah wah" to wondering "why? why? why" and you'll be on your way to mind meld.
One last tip: Don't assume that you know why your information will benefit the listener. Did I mention that you need to ask?
Image credit: CMYBacon.