If you draw a straight line about four meters long on the floor, it is practically impossible to walk from one end to the other while blindfolded.

In fact, if you go long enough, research has shown we're likely to even walk in circles. Part of the reason for this is due to the build up of small mistakes. When we see the line, any slight deviation can be immediately corrected. Those deviations can be so small we don't notice we're correcting them but without this check, we compound mistakes and go off course.

When we talk, we're walking with the blindfold on. We can't have much of a discussion if we don't talk at all but lifting the blindfold now and then by stopping and getting input allows us to course-correct.

"If you're explaining, you're losing" — Ronald Regan

Anyone who has been part of a bitter debate has experienced this. We say "that's not the point" and "you're not seeing it from my point of view" because we hear them go on about something that isn't touching our concern. We interrupt because they keep their blindfold on so long, we can't stand to wait and listen to them "walk" thinking they're still "on the line".

This is why cothinking emphasizes ../questions and ../removing-yourself-from-the-room. Talking is thinking, not cothinking. It only becomes cothinking in the spaces we leave behind. When we're talking, we're no longer learning. We think what we have to say is so important, we reduce how much information we have coming in. Information gives you power and leverage.

In the same way it feels like we have power when we're doing all the talking, we instill this sense in the person we're talking…or better said, listening to.

This works both in adversarial and amicable settings. In an adversarial setting, our opponent feels a false sense of control while they are actually empowering us with information. We give them little information to use against us and easily put them in a defensive position. If instead we want to resolve conflict, this allows them to settle down and feel heard. We can resolve the conflict better knowing both parties mutually understand each other.

In amicable settings, the outcomes are similar. We connect with the other person more deeply. Their sense of being in control is elevated. They are given all the space they need to put their thinking in our heads. When this happens, we are truly cothinking.