Discovering Communication Filters, Hidden Maps, and Outcome Expectations

The probability of communication failure increases when filters, maps, and expectations are unknown or misunderstood. Since toddlerhood, life-long discovery of pleasurable and painful phenomena allows us to think, feel and behave in patterns that enhance our safety, security and survival. We learn filters that help us move in and out of boundaries, with maps that communicate guidance for the journey, and expectations for proven outcomes when we make good choices. They are part of the matrix of the growth and development of human life.

The National Geographic film series Welcome to Earth, Season 1, episode 3, Mind of the Swarm captures on film the swarms of bees, wildebeest, flashlight fish, slime mold and swallows for images of discovery, choosing, and proving outcomes for safety, security, and survival. They have unique ways of communication for protecting the community from predators. When necessary, they also may travel together at great distances to discover food and water and usually follow proven paths in their journey. In the swarm “they don’t get too far away from their neighbor or get too close to them either. When their neighbor turns, they turn”, to avoid a dangerous outcome or take advantage of a beneficial one. At times they appear to say “Go ahead. I got your back”, hoping for their individual success knowing that some explorers won’t survive.

Humans also have swarm interaction with the environment. We can discover, choose and prove desirable outcomes with the person next to us in ways other organisms cannot. But some of our thinking, feeling and behavior is as automatic as a swarm of bees or swallows. We generally hang together in life with another human whose age, gender, education, family background, financial status, personality, race, and religion are closest to ours. These associations provide boundary filters, predictable maps for guidance and outcome expectations with choices we all believe will provide safety, security and survival. However, interaction with humans who have a different narrative from our herd can be difficult  but is necessary and beneficial.

Understanding how male filters, maps and expectations are different from females is important for a couple’s wellbeing. For example, there are decisions for safety and survival that prevent most men from shopping for clothes with women friends or family. If a woman asks, “do these jeans make me look fat?” the man anticipates doom. Few in a male herd would ever ask each other this question. Quickly talking to himself the male filters available memories for a map to survival before he answers out loud. He thinks: “How do I bring light to the subject without sticking my finger in an electric socket”. The imagined outcome is there won’t be a right answer. If he says no, he may be accused of lying. If he says yes, he will probably be lying – on the floor. The female has also developed swarm filters, maps and expectations for this communication event that enhance or inhibit the outcome. Her question is likely acceptable to other females. But male swarm thinking, feeling and behaving will probably get in the way of his honest answer.

It’s important to discover our own filters, maps and expectations that will enhance or impede interaction when we are trying to successfully share our thinking, feeling and behavior with another human. We need to be better than our swarm nature sometimes dictates. It’s embarrassing to discover that our herd mentality of filters, maps and expectations hinder successful outcomes. Interaction is best when those involved are committed to take the time necessary to interact wisely using their language and beliefs skillfully to discover, choose and prove both accuracy and error.