Needless to say, Viktor Frankl was onto something when he first wrote about the space between stimulus and response over 70 years ago. Interpersonal communication is a big subject but when broken down and this critical communication no-thing… thing, is introduced to someone for the first time, the reaction can be epiphany-like.
Why the amazement?
For starters, many of us don’t distinguish between hearing and listening. Noticing a dog barking in the background is hearing and different from listening to your soft-spoken grandmother tell about the birth of your mother. Furthermore, our interactive patterns are so riddled with emotion and unexamined perceptions, it’s a wonder there’s communication on any level.
But this is not my point in writing about stimulus, response, and the space in between. I want to explore ownership.
Frankl explains that each of us has a choice; that we select our response. It’s been my experience the idea of having choice doesn’t carry the same weight as the “space between” notion itself. The big “oh wow, right…” impact about the space between doesn’t seem to carry forward to the belief that we do actually have a choice in how we respond. Perhaps it’s obvious or too options-messy. In any case, something is missing.
However, inserting ownership changes things in a hurry.
Ownership of the space is the missing puzzle part. Suddenly it makes sense. We own this space. It’s ours. We decide what to do with it and how to spend it.
Now choice takes on weight and meaning because with ownership comes the possibility of control. We own the space therefore we have a shot in eliminating the habitual behaviors and emotional reaction typically associated with it.
Of course getting it doesn’t guarantee doing it. Nonetheless with ownership comes a gift, an intangible circuit breaker of sorts that’s set on “auto” and deployable in a nanosecond. Response to stimulus now becomes the tripping of the circuit breaker. The “space” that is owned is what’s created when the unexamined circuitry is severed.
There’s a metaphysical overtone to all of this and without a doubt I’ve lost a reader or two because of it. No matter. Let me just say that this space between communication concept is one that people take to in a heartbeat. There’s inherent truth in it and the practical implications are obvious and evident to anyone willing to take a look.
Thank you Dr. Frankl for this and much more.