A Reply: You can learn something from somebody and everything from all.

Speyer Cathedral
This is a guest post by Janine Pfahl, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions and learn­ing expert. Janine replies to my ear­li­er post., which you might read first.
While paus­ing for a moment in the spring sun­shine to read Michael’s text „You can learn some­thing from every­body and every­thing from all“, our dog posi­tions his snout on my key­board and starts to com­mu­ni­cate in his own way. It’s absolute­ly clear what he wants to tell me. Not only dog own­ers can inter­pret this sig­nal: „Come on, play with me! Stop work­ing and stroke me!“ Even a dog is not able to not com­mu­ni­cate and, after gaz­ing back and forth, he lies down at my feet in the sun­shine — and the both of us are happy. He did not only remind me to think of him, but that he is the wiser one. I reward him (and myself) by caress­ing him and I’m glad not hav­ing to speak to any­body.
Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and learn­ing are the main aspects of my job. I have to talk all day long, some­times with­out any rel­e­vant time­outs. And while think­ing about the dif­fer­ent rela­tion­ship lev­els of the indi­vid­ual com­mu­ni­ca­tion part­ners, my self-revelation and the appeal of what I say,it becomes appar­ent that not only com­mu­ni­ca­tion is unbe­liev­ably com­pli­cat­ed but learn­ing is any­thing but self-evident. Why?
The older we get the more we expe­ri­ence that we learn uncon­scious­ly each day. Is there any­body who wouldn’t be thank­ful for that? „You can learn some­thing from every­body..“ and every­body knows some­thing what you don’t know (yet). So sim­ple, so true!
After an extend­ed and pleas­ant dis­cus­sion with Michael about that topic I couldn’t but agree to all that. So obvi­ous, so nat­ur­al, so good are his argu­ments: to learn from the expe­ri­ences of oth­ers, to switch per­spec­tives, to accept dif­fer­ent opin­ions, to see one­self deal­ing with oth­ers and to learn from all that. In a word: be tol­er­ant and learn from oth­ers. Who would not agree with that ideal? It sounds too good, doesn’t it?
But there is some­thing which dis­tracts me, since I am no saint. I’m a quite nor­mal human being with my own idio­syn­crasies. I am famil­iar with those dark, nar­row blind lanes of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. And I pre­fer shaky old wood­en bridges over well-paved com­mu­ni­ca­tion high­ways, any­way, To learn from oth­ers, that means not only to to learn via spo­ken or writ­ten words. We also learn by watch­ing, we learn from other people’s behav­ior — but the con­nect­ing link always is com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion with oth­ers doesn’t always pro­ceed accord­ing to plan and some­times small­er or larg­er mis­un­der­stand­ings hap­pen. Who has never been in a catch-22 like this?
Although I love learn­ing and I want to learn every day and all my life — some­times I do not want to learn from oth­ers. I don’t want learn from a col­league I don’t real­ly respect; I don’t want to learn from a neigh­bor who wears her humans stains like oth­ers wear their clothes. Even if they know some­thing wich I don’t know, from time to time I pre­fer to turn a blind eye to some­thing. It hap­pens quite often that we see some­thing beau­ti­ful when look­ing away.
For me, learn­ing means not only to dis­cov­er flaws in nice things, to tol­er­ate them and to learn from them — but most of all it means to see the light and the beau­ty which emanates from some­thing which is old, rot­ten or bro­ken. Nature is our reflec­tion: after a bad start into the day, nature shows flow­ers with enthu­si­asm — even if they knew that the next storm would carry them away.
My child, smil­ing at me after a short and bad night, open­ing his tired eyes….the dog, who asks to be caressed, but who offers me his soft fur to feel good myself. From all that I love to learn.
You can learn some­thing from some­body and every­thing from all.
Recent­ly, we went to Spey­er with the whole fam­i­ly. There were far to many peo­ple. Happy about the first sun­beams, peo­ple annoyed them­selves. At the Spey­er Cathe­dral I saw a nun who, appear­ing relaxed and friend­ly, smiled at anoth­er per­son and waved. A won­der­ful moment, teach­ing me humil­i­ty and tol­er­ance.
 The photo was shot by Janine at Spey­er Cathe­dral.

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