Our Blog

Do you hear with your Third Ear?

I have always loved the notion of a Third Eye.

According to chakra symbology, it sits right in the center of our forehead. Smack above our eyebrows. It is the place in our body that fuels our intuition and our gut instinct. It’s also the pathway to any psychic powers we may possess.

Cool.

But a Third Ear? What the heck is that?

Joyce F. Brown is the president of the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, one of the preeminent US breeding grounds for future fashionistas. Ms. Brown is also a psychologist. When she was asked what helps her to be a successful leader, Ms. Brown replied with little hesitation: I am convinced that I have a third ear. (New York Times, Business Section, 7/21/2013)

The third ear, according to Brown, is the ear that hears the nuances.

Love that.

And the moment I read those two words – third ear – I thought of two distinctly different circumstances when my third ear served me well. Really well.

Nuance IN the spoken word

A few weeks ago I was settling into a seat on Virgin Air, getting situated for a flight to LA. A fellow strolled by, stopped, glanced at the seat next to mine and then announced: We’re neighboring.

If I had been distracted I might not have noticed. But I thought to myself, wow, what an exquisite phrase that is. Neighboring. A phrase full of nuance and surprise. So we quickly engaged. My chat with Mark turned out to be, hands-down, the most riveting chat I have ever had with anyone on a plane. Ever.

It began with a nuanced word.

Nuance BENEATH the spoken word

In the early 90s I was trained at the Brooklyn Courts to become a mediator. I value this training more than my Organizational Psychology degree or most other formal learning opportunities I’ve had.

The crux of what I learned:

In pretty much any difficult conversation, one of 5 core emotions is likely bubbling below the surface. One of 5 core issues is likely shaping the flow of the conversation. The nuance is not in the words. The nuance resides in the emotion and the issue that I, the speaker, am covering up with my words. And my Third Ear is able to hear both.

And the moment I hear, I am able to shift to a deeper conversation. That’s the power of nuance.

I’m sure there have been a gazillion moments when my third ear was shut tight. When it is open, however, it invites me into a more nuanced conversation. A more nuanced conversation is invariably a richer conversation. And isn’t that always so much more satisfying?

This week, choose to open your Third Ear. Hear the nuance IN the words. Hear the nuance BENEATH the words. Enjoy the conversational surprises that are sure to come your way.