knowing

- Mary Cassatt, “The Conversation”, 1896


if you find yourself saying “I know…”, then maybe, it’s just an indicator that you just don’t know.
I’ve been paying quite a bit of attention to speech lately and this is one phrase that really perks my ears up…maybe because I find myself saying it more often than I’m aware of.
On occasion, I’ll be having a conversation and the other party will, in the middle of my sentence, say, “I know”. But, the thing is, they couldn’t possibly know what I’m about to say or how my story or sentence could turn.
Many of us are intuitive and it’s indisputable that we as humans “know” more than we realize so, I understand this occurrence. But, maybe it’s a practice in listening.
Why do we feel the need to let the speaker know that we know? I feel that we, as social creatures are really quite nervous. I see this as a nervous tick. A way of masking that we really don’t know. We will be only half listening and in an attempt to stay connected, remind the other party that we’ve “been there, done that…”.
It’s a way of connecting but I feel that in many cases, it’s a way of pumping your self-conscious self up. “Oh, I totally know what you’re talking about…” and then proceed to thwart the conversation to one of your stories. It’s much easier to talk than listen yet, it’s so much more beneficial to you and the relationships you build, to listen.
In many instances it seems like this phrase is almost a way of shutting the other party up. Like, “I know, save your breath.”
But you DON’T.
It’s an act of humbling yourself because, guess what?!… you probably don’t know and if you just sit and slow down, listen to the person you’re sitting in front of, you may actually learn something you didn’t know. Even if it’s not something directly derived from their literal speech, you may learn something about the person speaking…mannerisms, body language, accents, quirks, etc.
I gravitate towards people who are good storytellers and I’ll find myself saying this phrase from time to time. It really bugs me that I do it. It’s a learned habit and I have to slow myself down and do this practice of humbling myself. It helps also to take note of your listening style. You don’t have to say everything that is on your mind. It’s a filter that you have to develop.
Speaking and conversing is like a performance, a dance, if you will. You can’t be dancing if you’re stepping on someone’s toes or if there are two people leading. Someone needs to be the follower. Just for a moment, slow down and listen. Let someone else take the lead. You never know that you just may not know.

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Socrates